Checked Out

People are always saying that family is the most important thing there is; that, when everyone else in your life has left you, your family will always be there to pick you up. Until I became addicted to cocaine, I had very little respect for the gravity and truth of this claim. I had always more or less taken my loved ones for granted and assumed that they’d always be there, just as I’d always be there for them if they ever needed me. It didn’t occur to me until I was actually in treatment the unimaginable depths to which they plummeted in an effort to get me help.

When you’re active in your addiction, it’s always about you, right? You’re not thinking about how your actions affect anyone else because there isn’t room for anything else in your life other than feeding your habit. To ask me to consider the feelings of others would have been the equivalent of asking a goldfish to do long division. I had first started abusing cocaine when I was 23 and learned very early on how to hide my habit and get what I want from people. It was a matter of survival if I wanted to keep using and feeling good.

At the height of my addiction, I was a completely different person (if you can call it that) and did everything I could, no matter what the consequences, to score. I robbed from my family, I beat up my brother and I lied at every single turn. Rather than give up on me and watch the inevitable unfold, my family stuck by me and made me see what I had become. They actually videotaped me during one of my fits of rage and played it back to me when I was sober during an intervention. Shortly after my intervention, I got help for drug addiction.

My father and I had a long talk about the expectations of my recovery. We both knew that three years of cocaine addiction weren’t going to be rectified overnight and that my life was forever changed. I took that knowledge with me when I went into treatment and endeavored to build a new life in recovery. It was not easy, I wanted cocaine every day, and still feel as though that I could relapse from time to time, but I was fortunate enough to find a program that treated addiction like the chronic disease that it is. This means that I was set up with relapse prevention tools, because they were certain that I would be tempted again.

Like I said, I had no clue how much my family cared about me until I came to realize what I had done to them when I was doing coke. The whole experience taught me that when you’re completely checked out and there’s nobody else to help you out of the hole that you’re digging for yourself, your family will always be there. At least mine was. 

Contact the National Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Information Center (NASAIC) anytime toll-free at (800) 784-6776 or through our online form, and we will recommend the leading drug and alcohol rehab centers for you or your loved one.