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[ Opinion ] [ Personal Narratives ]

Addiction: How To Prepare For Death, Part 1

My addiction to narcotic pain medication has provided to me an education in life I never could have foreseen coming. Unfortunately, these are classes I wish I never enrolled in. The things I have learned, due to my failures, is endless. Still today, 13 years sober, I find myself adding to that list. How to ruin a marriage, how to lose friends, how to destroy a mother, and how to mortgage off 14 years of my life…I scored an A+ on all those exams. However, recently I have come to know something my Addiction University failed to teach me. And that is how to prepare for death. No, not my own, but someone who is close to me.

So as I write this I am saying to myself…”Please don’t let there be a Part 2″. For in a Part 2, I would be able to answer all that. I am referring to an individual who I cannot get my message of sobriety through. For over 5 years now I have been trying to get this person to realize that the reason for her problems is the very medication she is taking in regard to managing them. For over 5 years now I have watched this individual lose sight of everything they have to live for. When I have (constantly) questioned this medication (abuse), the answer I get (as I am told to hit the road) is that it is a prescribed medication by my doctor. I have met with this addict’s mother countless times by her request. And every meeting I get another chance to tell her that I have failed again. I swear after telling her I see those hour glass things in her eyes…with the time running out. 

My typical confrontation will go something like this…Me:”So how are things going?”/ Her:”With what?”/ Me:”With you know what”/ Her:”Things are fine”/ Me:”Things are not fine. Your job is in jeopardy, you don’t have a dime to your name, your health is not good, you look like hell, your mother is ill over you, you are suicidal, you have no friends. In fact, there is nothing fine about your life. You know why?”/ Her:”I know why. Because of people like you getting all over my $h!!!t. Is this going to be another speech about my Xanax use?” / Me:”You mean your Xanax abuse?” / Her:”I think it’s time for you to leave”

So you drive away wondering will this be last time I ever see this person alive. With each visit comes a completely new vision of death that is painted with more vivid strokes of black and gray than your last visit witnessed. You see in addiction that insanity definition is obvious. The addict keeps doing the same thing over and over, expecting something to change for the better. But when confronting the addict, you cannot look at it the same way. I understand that you keep trying to get someone to see what their problem is with predictable failure. But you keep trying hoping that someday they prove you weren’t insane. Hoping that someday you get that different result. I have failed so many times with this individual, and seeing this downbound train coming off the tracks, I now have started preparing myself for her death.

So just how do you prepare yourself for one’s death? I check any social media connections with her for signs of life. I wait for her call that comes once or twice a month. I look to see if her son is still smiling. Am I supposed to tell her mother that I am expecting her to die? If I do, than all hope would be lost in her mind. If nothing else, I know with each visit to her I do offer the flicker of hope. The idea that someday I would be able to tell her we are finally on the right path. And regardless of not telling her what she wants to hear…seeing that spark die everytime I leave…the next visit comes with that same hope that I know she is looking to find in me. It gets harder and harder.

Look, I know the way things are going, it really is just a matter of time. I often wonder what I should say if I am correct. There is no manual on pending death. The preparations are fruitless. The words go unknown. I have no idea how to prepare for death other than just be ready for it. And to let those around her know that there was nothing any of them could of done when dealing with the adult drug addict. They say unless the addict comes clean, one of three fates is certain…incarceration, institutionalization, or death. Knowing the first two will not be happening, the last one is what I know is the odds on favorite for her outcome. I have stepped over three bodies while I was using. Three friends whose addiction in one way or another was responsible for their death. Overdosing and tragedy are common in the addict’s life. But I have never lost anyone that I was intervening on. Should someone die during my intervention, this would be uncharted water. Frustrating as hell. But I should not be surprised. This was me from 1990-2004. And my result should have been what I fear this individuals result will be. Death. Whether by overdose or suicide. I guess I was one of the lucky ones.