The Risk That Never Ends

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…


4 thoughts on “The Risk That Never Ends

  1. so sorry you are going through this. i’m just getting caught up with your posts.


  2. My heart goes out to you and your loved one. I am in recovery myself for alcoholism, and the statistics we hear as addicts tend to be very discouraging. I have few words of advice, but it helped me to develop a spiritual life, (I follow eastern philosophy) and that in turn helped me learn forgiveness and develop patience. I am now sober for 16 months, after years of relapsing even while in treatment groups. It is a long process, whatever the substance, and many times we are told that it can only be done one way. It’s not true…when we use substances we are trying to transcend life and the pain we feel. Many non-users do this in other ways, too. However, we can find healthier places to dwell, but finding the resources is an individual trek for each of us. I heard this from a drug counselor, and it has stuck with me for 10 years. Don’t lose hope, it CAN be done 🙂 Good luck to you and yours.


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