Follow by Email

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Addiction, Madness and Death

If there's anything that fits the Euripides line, "Whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad", it's addiction. My oldest brother died of it. My husband died in it. Many friends died with it. Addiction is madness, a spiral of justification and want. The mind craves, then the body craves, then insanity digs in deeper and deeper and there are only 2 choices- fight or die. If one has the capability to rise above the madness and get clean, there may be survival. If not, there's just a ticking clock. It's terribly unfortunate that many don't have that capability.

The horrible truth is that nobody can save an addict. An addict has to save themself. It reminds me of when a friend tried to kill herself and her mother said to me, "Why don't the mentally ill take their drugs?" Well, because they're mentally ill. And a part of every addict, whether addicted to substances or behaviors, likes their addiction. If they can get to where they truly don't like their addiction, there's hope of recovery. But as long as there's that fancy for the fix, that glimmer in the mind's eye, there will be insanity.

It was painful to witness my brother drinking himself to death but I was done with trying to change him. He'd made up his mind and we both knew it. Four months before he died I told him I'd never mention it again; that I knew he was done with life. He didn't deny it. He'd chosen his way out. In 1995 he'd drunk himself into laying unconscious on the kitchen floor for 2 weeks and a biker brother broke his door down and found him. He spent nearly a year in a nursing home, then a halfway house. Eventually he got an apartment and seemed to be doing well. He didn't drink for 5 years. But he didn't get support, or a recovery plan or even a counselor. He carried grudges from decades ago. He felt desperately sorry for himself. He was resentful and soured on the world. He let his madness eat at him. One day he said to hell with it and started drinking again, 5 years later he was dead. Many musicians he'd worked with showed up at his funeral. They knew a man we never met. "Was that our brother they were talking about?" said Billy afterward in the car. As close as we were, we never really knew him; he never really knew himself. His insanity fed his addictions, his addictions fed his insanity. He was incapable of rising up.

A friend is going through this with his brother right now. There doesn't seem much hope there. Those who loved Amy Winehouse are going through the inevitable end of one who couldn't get over it. Addiction is a terrible mental disease, one that lives to destroy. Funny that there is no "God of Addiction". There should be someone to blame.

1 comment:

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Very sad, but unfortunately, also true.