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Collateral Damage: Families of Drug Abusers



the collateral damage to families of drug addicts

We do a lot of damage to our families when we use drugs. Until I went into rehab I never realized the toll families of drug addicts take.

Wouldn’t life be simpler if other people were never affected by our poor actions and decisions? I know in my life, if this were the case, I would have quite a few bridges still standing that have unfortunately burnt down long ago.

When in active addiction, usually the last thing we are thinking about is how we’re affecting others. I remember I used to think, well, I never hang out with anyone. I just isolate in my room; I spend my earned money on my drugs and alcohol. And my most famous (and now almost comical) line was, who could I possibly be hurting when nobody even knows I’m using?

Hiding Drug Addiction

Well, one thing I’ve learned in my road to recovery is that as much as we think we’re doing a fantastic job at hiding every little detail of our disease, we’re not. Believe me; I thought I had it down to a science how to contrive the perfect plans to obtain my substances with as much discretion as possible. Now, notice I said “thought,” as in past tense. Looking back on my actions in those dark, lonely days, now I realize just how delusional I was.

There was a certain point in my addiction where I wasn’t able to drive because of a DUI I got. And in my town in upstate New York, if you wanted to get pretty much anywhere, you were either driving, or somebody else was driving you. So to make a long story short, for weeks I had my 62-year old father (knowingly) drive me to either get alcohol or drugs. I would trick and deceive and manipulate him, convincing him that I needed it to get through withdrawals. Or that I was only drinking. Well, none of those things were true, and my saint of a father (which we in the recovery community unfortunately also call a “grade-A enabler) went along for the ride.

Our Drug Addiction Traps Them Too

I didn’t know it at the time, but after multiple rehabs and countless family sessions, I learned that these daily trips wore on my father greatly. He felt trapped and confused. All he wanted was for me to be happy and thrive in life. And while his enabling didn’t exactly help me, I truly did not make it easy for him to say no.

My point may have been buried in the example a bit, but what I’m really trying to get across is just how much our addictions can harm and hurt the others, especially those we care about most.

Sometimes, It’s Not All About You…

Besides wanting to finally get better for myself so I could have a life I was proud of, the catalyst that sent me into an intense desire to get sober was seeing how much I had hurt my parents.

People seem to say a lot in recovery, “you have to want it for yourself, nobody else.” But my opinion is that if what initially gets you into a treatment center or prompts you to go to a meeting is thinking about another person whose life you’ve affected, I think doing it for them (at least in the very beginning) is as good a reason as any.

Karma Works Both Directions: Become Positive

So to end on a positive note, I want to remind all of you of something. While your negative actions may affect others negatively, when you start implementing positive actions into your life, you can just as easily influence others in a positive way. You can rebuild relationships. You can make a difference in people lives. You can be a force for good. You can make people smile when they see your face.

And always remember, you’re not alone. You can always call the Aid In Recovery Hotline at 1-800-910-3734, check in with your sponsor, or call up an old friend from rehab.

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