The Painful Path of Addiction – Part I: The Set Up

December 11, 2013

in Family, Self Awareness

al anon signI think most people believe that addiction is something that starts right away. You try something, you like it, you keep doing it excess. It’s not really like that.  Addiction is organic. It constantly moves and sways and takes years to settle into what it is. And even then, that’s not really accurate because just as soon as you think you have a handle on it, it changes. That is what makes it so frustrating to the bystander. Just when you think the addict realizes that they have a problem, it morphs into something different. They change habits, try a new doctor, get a new friend or find religion and suddenly they don’t think they have a problem anymore.

And the whole cycle starts again…

The roots of my sisters addiction will forever be up to debate. At the end of the day, how things started isn’t really as important as the things that happened along the way. But, the slow evolution shows the history of the beginning of abuse. Like I said, I think my sister would disagree as to when and how this ‘thing’ became a beast, but I’m sticking with my theory. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not around her everyday. We don’t communicate much about anything deeper than “how are things going?” So my insight isn’t anymore than an observation. Granted, I have had years of watching this unfold (in some cases, over and over again) but I have to say, this is just my opinion.

The crazy thing is addiction is growing at an alarming rate. With the introduction of mass prescription pills into medical offices, doctors are prescribing pills for just about everything. It’s risky business. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they aren’t needed, I’m just saying that they are the first line of defense into getting someone well. These days there isn’t any therapy, alternate medicine or investigation that goes in to prescribing those pills. You give the doctor a list of ailments and/or symptoms (which you can easily get off the internet) and whamo, you got yourself a pill. You go in three months later saying your symptoms have either increased or that the first pill isn’t working and whamo again, you get a new prescription with a stronger pill. No questions asked.

And then you start adding in the side affects of those pills, especially if they aren’t really needed or over prescribed in the first place. Suddenly you are taking more pills to counteract the side affects of the first pill. It’s like a merry-go-round you can’t get off.

We went through this with Frankie. I would research his behaviors and go in and tell the doctor what he needed. I would tell him to try this pill or this dosage and he would listen. He believed I was the expert in the situation since I was with Frankie all the time and he only saw him 5 minutes a month. In a way that makes sense, but not when you are dealing with narcotics that really haven’t been tested or observed on how they affect children over the long term.

The same thing happens with adults. You tell your doctor your symptoms and get a pill. You start adding symptoms to get bigger, better stronger pills. Throw in a therapist where you start with one story and start escalating that over the years so that you story matches the strength of the pills and well, that’s a perfect storm. When one or the other starts questioning you on the amount you are medicating yourself, you just move on to a different doctor and/or therapist. No one checks. You just start all over, working and manipulating the system.

I’m not saying my sister lied, but I do believe she exaggerated her stories over the years. I think they may have a shred of truth that she just made more powerful to keep up with her prescription needs. Pretty soon those stories become a part of your life and the key you need to keep the drugs coming and the doors open to sympathy and state checks. One or two of these slip ups over the course of a few years is nothing to worry about, but when this pattern becomes a steady course over 25+ years, it’s hard to ignore.

I’ve said it before, I don’t deal with my sister daily. And even less now that I have been seeking help on how to manage the situation. Her addiction was annoying, frustrating and painful to watch (especially when it dragged my parents good name through the mud. More on that in a later post.) I’m learning tools to control what I can control, to deal with the shit that comes my way that I am forced to handle and keeping  my family a priority.

In other words, I’m drawing the line in the sand.

And it feels good and empowering.

Can you relate? Below I have listed some great websites and organizations that can help.

10 ways to help a family member with an addiction problem.




1 Lori December 11, 2013 at 7:06 pm

I get it. I joined Al-Anon about 13 years ago. It taught me so much on how to “detach with love”. I totally needed that when my teenage boy started doing drugs, being disrespectful and just getting in tons of trouble. My Mom was Bipolar and had consumed my life for 36 years. My father was an alcoholic. My ex husband was an alcoholic and porn addicted. I thought I might go crazy before learning the art of detaching.
I feel your FREEDOM!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: