Addictions are one of the worst things that can happen to someone. It starts out as dabbling one or two times then turns into a situation only done socially than a habit you can’t kick to an addiction. I’ve never believed that people who have a severe addiction chose the life they lead and I do think it’s an illness.
Prescription pill addictions don’t look like all the others. You don’t wreak as you do with alcoholism. You don’t have track marks people can see. You don’t have to always score your drugs illegally in a dark alley. Prescription pill addictions often times fly under the radar. It’s interesting how many people who suffer from this addiction are so good at hiding it that often times the people closest to them in their lives don’t even know.
We are told that medication is safe for our consumption and that doctors ensure they only prescribe what’s necessary and the correct dosage. I can tell you that’s not true. I don’t think all doctors are negligent in this aspect but I do believe there are some that prescribe pills to get people out of their office or the prescribe the wrong ones that lead to addictions. It’s not all the doctor’s faults, but there is a flaw somewhere in the system.
I was 21 when I met a guy who I was utterly captivated with. I wouldn’t say, love, because, at 21, I don’t think I could fully comprehend what love was. When I met him, I thought he was one of the most attractive men I had ever seen. Not only that, he told me stories about places he had been and adventurous things he had done that I admired. He was older than me, and he knew about the world. Everything was perfect until it wasn’t.
I don’t remember exactly when I realized what was going on, but there were always random parts of the night when we were out or at a party where he would just change. His face would almost become different, and it looked like he was in a faraway place. What’s worse was he wouldn’t remember anything that happened the night before even if I explained it to him.
It wasn’t until a month, and a bit in I had spotted him popping something into his mouth while coming out of his bathroom. When I confronted him, he said it was Tylenol and that his shoulder was bugging him. I shrugged it off, but there was a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. A half-hour after that pill, I noticed him start to get more and more withdrawn from the crowd and almost dopey, like every night before.
That’s when it hit me. There was no way what he was popping was Tylenol. So I waited until the next day and asked him again what he had taken. I told him I was pretty sure it wasn’t Tylenol. That’s when he admitted he had taken Oxycontin and had been taking it a few times a day for the past few years. I didn’t really know the effects of oxycontin or what it was so I started to read up on it. On every single website, it said ‘do not mix with alcohol’ in giant bold letters. I didn’t know what to do. I was uneducated in any addictions and had no idea how to help him.
Eventually, I had to leave. I tried to get him to get help so many times, and he refused. I talked to his friends who just shrugged it off as no big deal. He was functioning at work, so he wasn’t at risk to lose his job. It just got to a point where I couldn’t help someone who didn’t want to help themselves even though I so badly wanted too.
If you’ve ever loved someone with a prescription pill addiction or really any addiction, you know these six truths to be very real.
One: You stay up all night to make sure they’re breathing
I stayed up multiple nights after I read that oxycontin can’t be mixed with alcohol. I worried that in the middle of the night, that he would stop breathing and I would lose him. I watched the rise and fall of his chest so often I can still see it in my mind if I shut my eyes.
Loving someone with an addiction means constant anxiety and worry about them staying alive. Addictions are so ugly and can take someone without warning. You know that when loving an addict, sleep deprivation to try to keep your partner alive is just part of the role of protector. If you fall asleep for even a few moments, you wake up panicked until you see that they’re safe and breathing next to you.
Two: You don’t know they’re on drugs at first until the medication really hits their bloodstream
My ex-had a look. I don’t know if I could describe it to you, you’d have to see it. Because it’s almost like his eyes change. It’s like his spirit altered and he was suddenly not himself, so his eyes reflected that.
With prescription medicine addictions, it’s sometimes difficult to know if your partner even has an issue. You could be out with friends, having a couple drinks and then bam, your partner looks like they’ve checked out. They start to say things that don’t make sense, and the vacant look in your eyes make you question; did they just have too much to drink or is there something else going on here?
Three: You find yourself in nonsensical conversation with your partner
My ex one time told me to close the window when we were outside. When I asked him to explain to me what he meant, he repeated he was getting too cold and we needed to close the window. When I reminded him we were on a patio, he got angry and stormed into the restaurant. I looked around at my friends and sheepishly shrugged unsure of what to say. Especially when I was helping him keep his addiction a secret.
When someone is on something, their conversations start to become far out and distant. They talk about things they see that aren’t real or create stories in their head that are fictional. Every conversation you have with them when they’re high doesn’t make sense, and it makes trying to reason with them even harder.
Four: You love them, but you’re slightly scared of them
My ex is one of the kindest people you’d ever meet. He loves to be the center of attention, and he always treated everyone with respect. But when he would get high, he would get angry quicker if I didn’t agree with the things he was saying that didn’t make sense. He’d break stuff if he got frustrated. He’d even squeeze my forearm when he started to pass out standing up because he needed to hold on to something.
While we know these things aren’t done on purpose, when your partner is high, you almost don’t know them anymore. The addiction and pills change them into someone you don’t know, and it’s scary. You walk on eggshells to not piss them off because you’re unsure of their reaction. When they get high, they’re not your partner anymore. They become the addict that haunts them.
Five: You often times get apologies for things they don’t remember doing
I often times tried to tell my ex everything that happened the night before. At first, before I knew what was going on, he’d apologize. When I asked him if he remembered anything, he’d usually say ‘I think so,’ but you could tell he didn’t know. He bought me flowers and took me out to excellent restaurants to apologize, but it didn’t make up for the painful memories he was unwittingly creating for me.
Your partner apologizes, and then you forgive them and then it’s a cycle that just continues. Maybe they even say they’re going to get clean after it happens one too many times. Either way, you’re getting half-hearted apologies for things they’ve done because they can’t recall what had happened. It’s not fair to you, but you love them, so you stay.
Six: You don’t know how to help them
With everything, I had an knew about life as a 21-year-old, I did my best to get him to help himself. Back then I didn’t realize that people need so much more support to kick a drug habit that I could give him. The ending was a painful realization that caring about someone so much can’t actually save someone.
You’re not the only person who’s not known how to help someone they love. Addictions are a tricky business that makes everything so damn confusing. All you can do is try to be there in the best way you can but also know when it’s time to walk away and take care of yourself. You’re important too.
Whether you broke up with your partner or are still with them, the only thing I can say is that you’re brave for giving all of yourself to help save someone else. You are trying to be healthy for them but also know that you need to care for yourself too. Self-care is not selfish even though in this situation it might feel like it.