I was displaying the classic drug abuse symptoms: I was depressed, I could hardly get through my day without severe anxiety and I was neglecting my life — but I wasn’t a drug addict. Hell, I’ve never even tried drugs. I was addicted to an addict and it nearly destroyed me.
- I thought I could save him. I desperately wanted him to stop using cocaine and be clean. How could I not? I cared about him and I thought if I could somehow make him see the light, encourage him and support him, he would be okay — but he could only save himself. That was the cold, hard truth I had to eventually face.
- I wanted us to be a team. Relationships are teamwork. You help each other out and support each other through the rough patches. I went to visit him in rehab and attended some of his Narcotics Anonymous meetings. I believed that once he quit the drugs for good, we could finally have a real shot at a normal relationship. Obviously I was the only one wearing a team jersey because he kept going back to his drugs.
- I clung to the idea that he could be himself again. Dating an addict is a mind screw. When the person is sober, they’re wonderful. When they’re on drugs, they’re completely different. But I stuck it out in the hope that his amazing qualities would come back. I was chasing his light but he was descending further into darkness. The drugs took away the sweet guy with the amazing mind and heart of gold, and I wanted him back, but I couldn’t ignore the lying, cheating, horrible person he became when he was on drugs. How do you separate someone from their drug habit? Which one is real? I was grasping at straws.
- I got caught up in the cycle of hope and despair. One day my addict felt good and positive about staying clean, so I felt good. The next day, he would go back to feeling frustrated with himself and falling into despair and I felt like crap. I got stuck on his emotional roller coaster, but after a few months of it, even the great days didn’t feel great anymore because I knew that crappy ones would soon follow them. I was like a drug addict chasing a high that was becoming harder and harder to reach.
- I wanted him to love me more than his drugs. The sad truth about addicts is that they will often choose their drugs over anything and anyone in their lives. Drug addiction is a disease, but the struggle for the person who loves an addict is that you want them to choose you and the goodness you bring to their lives over their drugs. I did, but I learnt that sadly love isn’t always enough. The addict needs to decide to change and get help if their recovery is going to stick.
- I was trying to gain control of a powerless situation. I would spend hours researching drug addiction to find ways to help the addict in my life. I was reaching out to people on forums. I was glued to my phone in case he needed me. I was constantly checking his social media for any weird status updates that pointed to a low mood or to see that he had logged in so that I knew he was okay. It was exhausting and I had to face the reality that no matter what I did to help him, I was powerless in this situation. I had no control over what happened to him.
- I was lying to myself. Drug addicts lie to themselves. That’s one of the things that keeps them in despair. But loved ones of addicts also lie — I did. I would tell myself that this time around, he would stay clean. I tried to believe that giving him money for food and a new cell phone wasn’t enabling him (it was – all the money went to drugs). I tried to believe we could make our relationship work even though drugs were the giant pink elephant in the room squeezing out all the air. After five months of this hell, he came out of rehab and started using drugs again a few nights later. I realized I had no control over what happened to him, sure, but I had control over myself. I had to get out because I was destroying someone really important. ME.