Someone I Love Dearly (SILD) is a heroin addict who has recently entered treatment for the first time. Two driving motivations are SILD’s fear of overdose, and SILD’s observation that “If I OD no one will do anything; no one help me.” Because, you see, addicts hang with addicts and addicts aren’t the best choice for friends. I haven’t the strength to ask what experiences inform SILD’s point of view.
So how many old heroin addicts are there? In our particular rehab center there are old alcoholics but no old addicts. Coincidence or reality? I don’t have the stomach to ask. How long has SILD got to get clean or get swept away?
There are lots of statistics about heroin rehab on the internet and they all suck. 97% of all addicts will relapse if they try to quit on their own. 90% of those in rehab programs will relapse. For many the rehab-relapse cycle continues for decades. I can’t handle decades. Can I handle decades?
When I attended my first couple of meetings for the friends and family of addicts, I thought I would dissolve with fear and dread, hearing about all the cycles of getting clean and going out, getting clean and going out. That’s treatment slang for relapse. Going out of the program: using, lying, crashing, burning.
The thinking is that the addict has to hit some kind of profound low, has to scrape a horrific bottom, in order to muster the will to stop using. Compared to the other stories I’m hearing, SILD hasn’t hit bottom. I don’t think I have the fortitude to witness any further descent.
I already get it: these kinds of thoughts are so debilitating, there is no hope where such thoughts live. Thus the instruction to focus on the moment and concentrate on one day at a time. Easier said than…