A Recovering Addict Watching An Active Addict… It’s Torture

April 1, 2010 — 9 Comments

When we were in active addiction we couldn’t see ourselves for what we were until the very end when we finally surrendered and asked for help.

No matter what others would tell us about how we looked or acted we somehow rationalized it as them having a problem… not us.

Having an active addict in your family forces you to look close up at addiction but through an outside view. For this recovering addict, watching an active addict is torture.

In the past I have talked about how my brother is an addict and how horrible it was to watch. Then I talked about my brother finally giving in and seeking help and how much of a relief that was. Now here I am unfortunately talking about how my brother has let himself slip back to his old addictive ways (although he won’t admit it to anyone yet.)

You would think that the fact that I’m a recovering addict would make it easier for me to understand a fellow addict slipping back into active addiction… WRONG. I guess it makes me less understanding because I know that it doesn’t have to be that way.

I see him trying to hide this and that from everyone. I see him lying, skimming money, avoiding eye contact and basically becoming a dickhead who I want to kick the shit out of (a little pent up anger or what?). But what jumps into my mind every time that I look at him is that I’m looking at someone that gave in and took that first pill.

I understand that once that is done, there is pretty much no controlling yourself. I understand that better than most. But what I can’t understand is why you would do it that first time. You know where it is going to end up… you’ve been there before. Do you think somehow this will end differently than in the past?

Seeing where he has led himself has cemented the fact in my mind that I will never put myself in that situation again. I will not allow my addiction to trick me into thinking I can just do it once. I can’t. At least I have gotten that much out of this situation right?

9 responses to A Recovering Addict Watching An Active Addict… It’s Torture

  1. That’s one thing I always say to people who pick up/relapse in their addiction: Thank you for showing me that it’s NOT pretty, fun, or attractive to go back to the substance. I have yet to find one person who “went out there” come back to say that it was great. I’ve only heard stories that picking up was awful and torturous, etc.

    It is hard to watch a loved one suffer through an active addiction. And I agree that it’s even harder once you’re in recovery yourself. We didn’t know what we didn’t know before. Today knowledge is powerful, but it’s also hard at times. I just have to remind myself to keep the focus on me and that the best thing I can do for myself and the active addict is to stay in recovery and work my program to the best of my ability.

    Keep on keeping on!

  2. Bill W. put a lot of research into why people take that first drink again. It looks like we addicts have a big blind spot and actually forget how much it will cost to have “just one”. We (addictively) think “just one won’t hurt”, and then lose a recovery, or a spouse, job, home. We “know” better, but we forget! Putting ourselves in charge of that decision is like having the fox watch the chickens. So, I’m deathly afraid of that “just one” thought now, and when it comes I try to recognize it, have a red flag go up, and think, “ah, here’s a decision for God, not me.” Thanks for writing about the pain of watching an addict in the family, and I appreciate Amy’s advice to stay in recovery yourself. Very wise.

  3. I can relate very much, cause my 30yr.old baby, and I say baby because, he is the youngest, Therefore, he will always be my baby. Anyway, his drug has always been meth, and was clean for a while, then started using again.I would just like to express, how powerful these DAMN! drugs are! Iam sorry. After knowing that his older brother is in prison, for 19yrs, For killing a Nurse by running from the cops driving, high on meth! I feel the same way you do, as to not understanding why? After knowing this, plus what I went through, And now me being sober for 6 months,And his outher older brother, and older sister, all been through hell,but thank goodness, were all sober now, Why would he pickup again? All the narcotics are bad, And to think of the people that got paid for almost killing us! Is beyond my comprehension.

  4. I have a close friend who have watched get in countless domestic alcohol fueled fights and have legal issue after another. He decided to quit cold turkey and I say more power to him but his GF who is just as bad is in complete denial and believes that alcohol is not the root of her problem. I just sit there and think I wish you could see what I see.

  5. A way to help ease your torment might be to have a mantra to say when you in pain over your brother, perhaps something like

    “May he be healthy,
    may he be at peace,
    may he be sane,
    may he be happy”

    Because if he had all those he would no longer be using. All the best to you, and thanks for this blog.

  6. Wow Zentient, thank you for that. I will definitely keep those thoughts in mind. I do wish those things for him.

  7. but what else can be DONE?! I’m in the same boat and I’m tired of watching him slip away. I tried to detach cuz that’s the only way I knew how to keep my life going but it was too hard. i felt sick w/o him, more worried than ever. now I’m just tryna be around but he’s not acknowledging me anyway. still a jerk. he says he wants to quit but I read it’s still denial cuz he thinks he can do it his way. he tells me using is a hassle but I wonder if no one was hasslin him bout it if he’d be more ok with it then. and that scares the hell outta me. I mean, should I kick his ass?? shuld I tell him what a jerk he’s being AND looks like?? will he care?! he’s on his last chance w drug court (heroin his drug of choice) which i think is best but I just really want the person I know back.. or at least someone I can stand.

  8. This helps a little with my problem I’m a recovering addict from alot of diffrent things basicly addicted to anti reality anything that will fuck me up it was all good when I was doing it with my GF but I got arrested and put through forced rehab at first I hated it but after being sober during that time I saw how much I was hurting others and fucking up but im still in rehab and staying away from my triggers but now my main trigger is my GF she is an active addict and talks about quitting but she just slowed down a bit and talks about doing it her way idk what to do im scared because I love her to death and I dont want to leave her but her having it around makes it harder to be sober then ever if anyone can help please please do

  9. Hi my name is hashiem I’m a recovering addict.it is
    Very hard to watch someone you luv go down I have. A cousin of mine that has relapsed
    And I think this time he has hit rock bottom , where they put him out of the house and he now stays in the back yard.he just does not want to accept that he can’t
    Do it on his own.I can barely look at him ,but I keep away and pray for him everyday I’m so
    Scared that if I try to help him I could relapse as I am in early recovery.
    But ja it works on me everytime I see him I just feel like bursting into tears.

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