Addiction – The Sun Going Down On Everything Good
Very slowly an uncontrollable feeling of dread and loss of control slowly descends upon the family. What once was a happy and functional group, gradually begins to break down in the impending great cover up operation of secrets, lies and deceit. This leads to an emotional, psychological and spiritual crisis in the family that deepens with every lie, cover up and refusal to accept the situation for what it is.
The family starts to get sick.
The family always knew there was an awful problem, but now when the family gets sick, the same is true for the addict or alcoholic. The addict consumes the drug for the effect produced by the drug. In the beginning this effect becomes an external solution for an internal problem of incompleteness and a collapsed perspective on life. It works extremely well for a while, but eventually addiction starts to demand the impossible of the addict. It drives the addict through 100 different forms of fear, self delusion and self pity to desperately seek the effect from drugs or drink, which by now is only achieving the effect of self centered fear, bewilderment, terror and desperation. It is no longer working like it used to! The demand for the effect now begins to replace other morale responsibilities. Deceit and dishonest motives now rule the roost and dictate the downward spiral of the addict and his/her family.
The addict’s priority is now his drug or drink, he is serving the new master called addiction everything else becomes obsolete.
Now the addict is leading the double life which keeps the family in the destructive center of fear and hope. He is hiding a terrible secret and as a result has to role play and change the colors of his character and behavior like a chameleon stuck in the midst of a rainbow. This provokes all sorts of character defects like resentment, guilt, shame, anger and fear. The addict begins to isolate in fear of being found out, his terrible secret must never be uncovered no matter what!
In the family patience wears thin, tempers flare, secrets are kept as the addict and family desperately try to postpone or avoid the self imposed crisis that looms. He becomes a liar an actual and emotional thief and is now lost in the fatal malady of addiction that demands of the addict his only hope for salvation is either a drug, drink or death.
Fear becomes the dominant force among the family as the crisis has now become overwhelming. Overdose, car accidents, jail, calls in the early hours of the morning, money and possessions go missing, all dignity and intimacy has now been sucked out the room as the great impostor called addiction rips through the lives of the family like a hurricane.
Yet no one wants to admit to the truth of their reality. No one wants to admit that they are losing their addict to a slow and hideous end. Certain members of the family start to isolate, others become lost in their fear and anger at the hopelessness of the whole situation. No one wants to own up to what their gut instinct is telling them, and yet the addict is dying right in front of them. Everyone involved gets sicker.
What started with a couple of beers or a joint in the younger prowling days, has ended up in a life and death struggle where there will only be one victor.
Over time the family has very gradually had to accept the unacceptable, re calibrate ethics, morale standards and dignity to a much lower level than is required to keep a family healthy. They have learned to live within the sickness of addiction, merely focusing on their own survival whilst desperately hoping for a magical solution to the crisis that never comes. All they have been doing up until now is swapping positions in front of the firing squad.
The disease of addiction has confused and baffled the family to a point of dysfunctional behavior. Only a concerted and highly focused effort can bring about change and help save the addict and the family from impending doom.
Paul is a Zimbabwean author of his book Walking On Fire The Journey Back From Pain and Suffering.