Effects of Substance Abuse
Effects of Substance Abuse
Lost Time and Lost Relationships
By Ned Wicker
The real tragedy of drug addiction is the devastation it has on personal relationships and more often than not, there are no happy endings.
Allison talked at length about her life, her loves, her passions and everything that she had thrown away through her many years of addiction. Now in her late 40’s and celebrating 13 years of being clean and sober, she still struggles with the after effects of the disease. She has continuing health issues, but more importantly she feels the heavy burden of regret.
There is a shy helplessness about her, a kind of ‘scared rabbit’ look that gives her a girlish appearance. She has a gentle spirit and is delightful to speak with, but underneath it all is a savage kind of sadness that rots the soul and she feels trapped under its weight.
When she was 16 her relationship with drugs began at a high school party. Like many kids, she was curious and just wanted to experience what it was like to use drugs and get high. But unlike many of her friends, Allison could not control what was to happen next. Her enjoyment of the experience led to her going back for more, and soon more meant more than she could afford.
She found herself out of school, away from home and on the streets. She sold herself to get drug money, but became pregnant and had a son. Two years later, she had a daughter. She does not know who the fathers are. Allison’s mother took all of them in and tried to help. When the girl was five, Allison made the most difficult decision of her life.
She was an addict, needing treatment, needing a completely new lifestyle, she was beginning to understand the full effects of substance abuse. She knew her children had suffered and decided to give them up for adoption. She could not care for them and any semblance of maternal care was swallowed up by the demand for more drugs.
She was relieved when a good family adopted both of them, but heartbroken that they were no longer her children. For another 15 years she was in and out of treatment, bouncing back and forth from trying to maintain sobriety to relapsing into long stretches of using.
It was a spiral to nowhere, but she regards herself as one of the lucky ones. She came to the point one day that she completely gave in to the treatment and recovery process. She got clean and stayed clean.
Effects Still There
Once back on her feet, however, she was still left with the remnants of the disease. She had lost a lot of weight and was in very poor health. She managed to gain some weight and was by any reasonable standard “taking care of herself” but the years of alcohol and drug abuse had taken its toll on her organs.
She had frequent hospitalizations and a stomach disorder morphed into a type of eating disorder. It’s not that she didn’t like or want food, but it made her sick. From time to time, having experienced excessive weight loss, she’d wind up in the hospital with a feeding tube. She tried to cooperate with her doctors and wanted to be a compliant patient, but it was like the medical maladies were one after another.
Through the years she has tried to rebuild the relationship with her son and daughter, now both in their 30’s. She is grateful that both children went to college and enjoy satisfying professional careers, but neither of them will accept her hundreds of written apologies, or requests for forgiveness. She has tried to explain her side, but the pain is too deep. They will not speak with her. It’s the ultimate price for her addiction and bad choices.
Her children are the single biggest disappointment of her life. Not having them in her life, not having them all along without the drugs, not being there for all the memorable occasions is a dreadful burden. It was all self-inflicted and she accepts the responsibility.
She has found a measure of comfort from her friends and new significant other, but there is still an emptiness inside her that cannot be filled by anyone other than her children. She often lapses into a melancholy frame of mind and seems out of reach. She tries to maintain and be hopeful. She understands that her children might forgive her in time, and for now that is enough. She recently began a conversation by stating the age old, “If I had it all to do over again I would first understand that I don’t have that privilege. Maybe I’d stop myself from being so foolish.” The Effects of Substance Abuse aren’t worth the moment of high that is unattainable.
Allison is one of the many that has learned that hard way, harder than most, that the real meaning and joy of life is in the relationships with people, especially your own children.
Effects of Substance Abuse Effects of Substance Abuse Effects of Substance Abuse Effects of Substance Abuse Effects of Substance Abuse
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