Updated: May 3
Addiction can feel like you’re bleeding. There is an open wound inside of you and you just can’t seem to find it. And the more you struggle to close the hole, it just keeps gushing more blood, it keeps taking more out of you. This is the way I interpreted addiction after watching my brother’s continuous recovery and relapses over the years. After seeing the weight fall off of him and watching the color slowly drain from his usually sun kissed face. I used to read article after article on ways to help my brother recovery, things I could be doing better, reasons why I wasn’t enough to keep him from his cravings for drugs. However, this year during quarantine I was able to take a step back and reflect on all the thoughts that usually fill my head when thinking about my brother’s addiction and his lifelong recovery.
Every article, post and tweet I read regarding addiction was focused solely around how to help the person with the addiction. There are resources to help people battling addition talk things through, get medical help and find a way out of the darkness they kept finding themselves in. There wasn’t a large part for the people affected by their loved ones path through addiction.
It is easy to blame yourself or feel guilty for what someone is going through. This is a normal part of life, to feel empathy and wish you could pull some of the weight off others and put it onto your own back. The most common question people ask themselves after finding out someone they love is abusing drugs is ‘why didn’t I see it?’. The next question is usually ‘what could I have done differently?’ And while it is hard to accept, the truth of the matter is there’s not much you could have done.
My brother broke the mold of our perfect family by being lured into drugs. He went to a great school, played sports, had a great home life with loving parents and a best friend for a sister. He was a popular, outgoing, happy kid; until he wasn’t.
Life is a mystery in the way it throws things at us. It is easy to take the blame for things you did not cause in order to find some sort of control within a chaotic situation. However, if you want to gain control of your family's issues you must help yourself emotionally and physically before you can move forward.
Your loved one is not the only one going through a recovery process, you are too. The best way to help yourself through is by finding outlets to guide you along the way. There are support groups for families that are going through addiction. There is also the option of therapy if you are more comfortable in one on one conversations. If talking it through is too painful, there are also support groups online as well where you can sit and read other people’s stories so that you can feel less alone and gain support.
Addiction is a bomb not a bullet, it does not just hit one person, it ruins everything in its path. The only way to clean up the aftermath and pick up the pieces is by bandaging up everyone’s wounds, not just the person closest to the explosion.