"I came to realize that once you deal with an addict for so long and they don’t prove to you they want to change, their fate is no longer in yours—or anybody’s hands—for that matter."
Case Manager and Administrative Assistant
Currently living in Waterford, Michigan
If anyone reading this is “in love” or has ever been “in love” with an addict, I can honestly say, I know how you feel. I, too, at one point had a heroin addicted boyfriend. I am 24 years old and only a couple years back, I helped him come to the realization that he was an addict.
It took a lot of time and effort to get him to admit to everything that he had been hiding from me in the months leading up to that point. Every day was a constant struggle from the day I suspected he had a problem to when he finally admitted to using heroin.
Knowing the truth about his addiction and not being able to get him to admit it was probably the most frustrating thing I have ever experienced. Every night I cried myself to sleep not knowing what to do. The question lingered in my head, “Should I break up with him because of his addiction and the constant lying? Or should I stay with him and do everything in my power to help him get better?”
I’d been with the kid over 2 years at that point and I was completely lost. My own personal well-being was suffering more than I realized at the time. Once we talked and he agreed to check into a rehab program, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and there was such a sense of relief in the air. I knew him being there was the best possible scenario.
Sadly, the trust I once had in him was completely shattered the moment I found out he had left and that nasty little drug crept back into his life. Thinking back on how awful he treated me while he was using makes me sick. Every day he lied and manipulated me—borrowing money for things such as “gas, bills, car repairs, cigarettes, etc.” because he had lost a lot of hours at work and was low on money, but really using all the money I gave him towards buying dope. It made me sick.
Never wanting to hang out or see me because he had “other” stuff to do (like going to the city to buy, and all other business associated with “dealing”) was another problem. I was no longer his first priority—I don’t even think I was a priority at all. His whole life revolved around the “process” of getting high. Finding heroin, going to buy heroin and locking himself in strange places to, you guessed it…abuse heroin.
After his second stint of rehab, he did show signs of improvement: going to meetings, attending intensive outpatient treatment and regularly talking to his sponsor. I finally felt like our lives were beginning to change for the better and felt, yet again, a huge feeling of relief. I tried to believe everything he was saying, but after a third and fourth relapse, I made the painful decision to let him go and let fate take over.
I came to realize that once you deal with an addict for so long and they don’t prove to you they want to change, their fate is no longer in yours—or anybody’s hands—for that matter. They hold the ultimate key themselves. This is why it is so common to see addicts all alone—they put their addiction above all people and things in their lives, and after a while it really takes a toll on the people who love them.
The whole experience hurt me both mentally and physically. It changed my life in more ways than I can tell you. Having to worry every second of your life about your loved one’s addiction forces you to put their problems and needs before your own, and that was the hardest part for me at the time. I lost myself in my search for the guy I once fell so deeply in love with. That was then—nearly 7 years ago.
After I finally let him go, I started to really think about what I was going to do with my life. I found my passion in the recovery community and threw myself into working with addiction through social work. I landed a job as a case manager/administrative assistant at a facility who provides integrated treatment of substance use and mental health disorders for children, teens and adults—and I absolutely love it. I’m also working towards my MSW so I can work as a LMSW (Licensed Master Social Worker) and a CAADC (Certified Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselor) to provide support and guidance for not only those suffering addiction, but for those who love them as well.
I know now more than ever before that this is where I belong. My personal experiences with addiction had such a profound impact on my life and, without a doubt, contributed to the person I am today. Whether it’s in yourself or someone else, experiencing a disease so devastating seems like the worst thing that can ever happen to someone, but it can be cured just as almost any other disease.
It pains me to see others view addicts as “lost causes,” because that’s not the case at all. They are merely cracked, not broken. They are worth it. You all are worth it. Once you find the light, you too can use your experience and story to help others find theirs as well. I know I did.
They say everything happens for a reason, and I've finally discovered them for myself.