Drug Addiction Stories
Busted and Going Downward
It was one of those sad stories that made no sense to me at the time. I was a young man, serving in the Navy overseas at the Naval Communications Station-Philippines.
As the story goes, he got involved with a Filipino girl and failed to show up for duty for several days. That was only part of it. Chief Petty Officers are very important people in the Navy. Why would a man in his position do something that reckless? What were the underlying factors? Why would he do something that he KNEW would get him busted?
In the short time I knew this man, I felt profoundly sorry for him. Being too young and inexperienced, I did not understand his behavior, nor did I understand his pain. I have had nearly 40 years to process my observations. It wasn’t the girl who caused him to go “over the wall,” it was drugs and alcohol. All of the signs were there, but I didn’t know what I was seeing.
His life was a cycle of drinking until he passed out, taking “bennies” with his coffee the next morning to wake up, working his shift and going directly to the saloon to start all over again. He talked about how he was going to get his “hat back,” meaning he would be reinstated as a chief. But he knew that wasn’t going to happen in the near future. Nevertheless, it was always a leading topic for discussion.
He knew where to get the really good “dope” from the local supplier, and told stories of his rendezvous at opium dens. But the Navy had done him wrong. It was not his fault. He was busted because somebody else was out to get him. He never talked about the girl. She was merely a stage prop in his tragedy.
To most he was a miserable, contentious cuss, and he was known for being a bully. I don’t know why I hung out with him, but he seemed to enjoy talking to me and treated me respectfully. Maybe it’s why Wally Cleaver was friends with Eddie Haskell. He talked of his disagreements with authority, about his cold relationships with peers, and how people were jealous of him for his professional ability.
I knew there was something wrong, something missing, but I didn’t know at the time what it was. All the signs pointed to addiction. He used drugs and alcohol to numb his emotional pain. He used people and abused his friendships. The rest was an act, a venire to mask his true self from the outside world. He was a bully, but he wasn’t tough.
He didn’t need to be punished for his behavior, he needed treatment. I only knew him for a few months and never saw him again. But I might have been in a position to help, only I had no idea what I was dealing with. To the Navy, at the time, he was a guy busted for being absent without leave, shacked up with a girl. To me, looking back 40 years ago, he was a hurting man with a disease; if I only knew then what I know now.
Is there someone in your life who is showing the signs of addiction? If they are please try to help them; don’t wait forty years.