As if, Emily.

Diary of a teenage hedonist.

Category: germany

Family matters.

This is an email that my father sent to my boyfriend shortly after I had told him about my addiction. My father had only himself known about the drug taking for a few months but had a good idea of the extent of my previous alcohol problem. I think it provides an interesting perspective on addiction. It’s also particularly poignant as it was over a year ago, I haven’t ‘triumphed’ and am still as lost in addiction as ever.

Hi T—

I think the first thing to say is that it is very positive that Emily has told you what’s been going on. I expect that it was a horrible shock. The first step in dealing with addiction is for the addict to accept that there is a problem.

It’s also very good that Emily has told us about this because a lot of addictive behavior causes the person shame so they tend to be secretive about the behavior. This can cause already terrible problems to become worse because the person can’t get help, and because those who are close can be damaged by the things they don’t know about like no money, health problems or violence.

A lot of us are at risk from addiction. It might be alcohol, Nicotine, sex in it’s various forms, exercise, even wealth and power. I have a strong addictive streak like Emily.

We build our addictions through the idea of reward. We do something like have a drink or smoke a cigarette and we feel some relief, or we place a bet and win some money. The feeling of relief or the money are the reward. The reward makes us do it again. The more we do it the stronger the link between the behavior and the reward becomes. Unfortunately it’s also the case that the behavior has to become more extreme to get the same reward. A €5 bet becomes a €500 bet; a picture of a naked woman becomes a video of woman being tied up and assaulted; a glass of wine becomes a bottle of Vodka.

For alcohol and narcotics there is also the physical dimension of addiction. Withdrawal brings horrible feelings of anxiety and pain. Only more of the substance brings relief. This is the downward spiral of addiction.

For Emily as an individual there is the obvious complication of her mood disorder.

On the other hand the longer the person resists the temptation to seek the reward then the link between the behavior and the reward weakens. If you have tried giving up smoking you will know that the craving slowly becomes less. But you may also know that one cigarette can put you back to the beginning. And the risk of relapse is also always present and therefore must be guarded against.

What can you do?

It is essential to take it one day at a time. Because the “pull” of addiction is so strong the idea of doing without the “reward” for ever is too much to cope with. Better just to think, “can we get through today?”. One day at a time.

Be as consistent as possible. Take the rough with the smooth because if Emily is serious about facing this massive challenge it’s unlikely to be plain sailing.

Managing access to money is a good idea but in the light of what I’ve written already, addiction encourages secretive and dangerous behaviors. Heroin addiction is very powerful and the loveliest person can be powerless to behave normally. Addicts have been known to steal from their families, to sell anything and everything, to lie and to trick to get what they need if money is short. This is why it’s also so positive that Emily is being open with you; she wants to change and she trusts you.

Make sure that you both stay as well as possible by eating well. See if exercise can become a bit of a substitute.

Most importantly I would discuss with Emily and your Doctor the idea of professional help. I have no idea of the quality of “Specialist Drug and Alcohol” services in Germany but if they exist then you both need to think seriously about accessing any support on offer. Emily has made that essential first step but the journey is long and difficult and will have ups and downs.

In the UK there is AA for drinkers and Narcotics Anonymous for those addicted to drugs. There are similar groups for the families of addicts. Your doctor should have more information.

But Emily is brave and strong as well as beautiful so hope burns brightly!

Emily’s father.

P.S – Emily will need to speak for herself but the original “motivation” to start on such a risky, destructive and ultimately unsustainable path only she knows. We can guess that it may be a way to mask anguish and distress, it may be that she doesn’t value her own life, it may be a way of living that she has come to rely on. The difficulties of a “normal” life are too great to bear without “help”.

It’s important to say that we might feel that it’s because we’ve not provided enough help to Emily; that somehow we should have been able to rescue her and keep her safe. As her father I do feel this; as her partner you needn’t feel this. But you need to be aware that Emily’s addiction has been an ongoing theme all the time you’ve known her. Let’s pray that the “real” (sweet, intelligent, capable, energetic, hard-working and loving) Emily can triumph.

Tick…tick…tick…

Waiting for your dealer is the slowest form of waiting known to man.  You want to score, so you call your regular supplier.  They promise they will meet you in half an hour, usual place, usual time.  You go.  Wait.  An hour ticks by but it feels like two.  You call again and are rewarded with “I have something I have to take care of, be there in ten”.  You wait twenty before you call again. Your mouth is dry.  Palms sweaty and your stomach is in knots.  Mailbox.

            I’ll admit that my dealer is normally super, but there have been times when I’ve waited in the designated place for three plus hours and then have finally been told it’s no longer possible.  I wonder what can be more attractive than the €50 I am holding in my back pocket?  The answer is, of course, heroin.  Like most dealers, mine is also an addict.  I know it’s not personal; I realise I am not as attractive as a spoon and a needle.  However, I can’t help feeling let down.  Don’t we have a relationship?  Don’t I support your bloody habit?!

            The truth of the matter is, no matter how well you think you know your supplier – whether you’ve given them a Christmas card or loaned them a few quid – to them you are just another whiney junkie getting on their wick.  They are safe in the knowledge that no matter how badly they treat you, you rely on them.  They can take their pick of the whiney junkies; a good dealer is hard to find.  I am writing this as I wait for my dealer.  Waiting for your dealer is the slowest form of waiting known to man.

Day Ten – Termination.

31/03/14

Having managed most days to write something, I can quite clearly see my mental decline.  I have decided to speak to the social worker tomorrow and when nothing comes of it – or even if something comes of it – to leave.  It’s not healthy for me to be surrounded with people who glorify using or even just talk about it factually (as all of us do; I am not excluding myself from this behaviour but I have recognised that I need to avoid doing it).

            I have gleaned something positive from this: I have rekindled my love of animals and have realised I have somehow retained a bit of the information I collected as a child.  Clearly having bombarded my brain with chemical comforts hasn’t done that much damage (fingers crossed!).  I have also learnt a few new things too, plenty of fuel for my dream cottage fire.  But I think it’s better to leave now.

And the following day, I left.  I don’t regret that decision, despite the relapses.  The intensive drug discussion and self-inventory that rehab brings can work to help some people build the platform to support them in staying sober; with me, it works exactly the opposite way.  I get increasingly turned on by the idea of ‘breaking the rules’ and taking drugs.  As an example of the scale of the problem, when they took blood from me on the second day I was so happy that they used a huge needle!  And every time I tried acupuncture, I was spurring the poor doctor on to dig the needles in deeper just to try and satisfy my craving to inject.  No, I maintain that not discussing/thinking about taking drugs is the best method for me (although maybe that means I should stop writing this blog?!).

Day Nine – Insurmountable Odds?

30/03/14

No one is here for the first time.  Except me.  To clarify, from the 20+ patients in residence I am the only one here in Station P- for the first time.  No one is the first time doing a stint in rehab, not even me.  That makes an 100% failure rate of rehabs here in Germany.  What does that tell us about drugs, kids?  That they are impossible to forget, once you have tried them.  That there are some ills in the world that you can’t heal.  Of course, the stories and the substances differ, but they all come to the same conclusion.  Drugs stay with you, through good times and bad.  “Let’s celebrate – have a wee dram!”.  “Gosh, I feel terrible.  I know what will help”.  And if you manage to abstain, you become an outcast.  A smug arsehole.  And no one wants that.

 

Later…

Just been subjected to a round of drug nostalgia from two of the hardcore old junkies.  Tales of cold turkey, drug abusing parents, bartering codeine for material…it begs the question, for someone who has had such a privileged upbringing – with parents who have always tried their best to show me that I am loved and supported – how did it come to this?  I try and justify it with my crippling depression.  I try and justify it, because I have to.  Because I can’t foresee a future without drugs.  I am going to ask the Doctor to increase my Sertraline.  Fuck.  Fuck.  Fuck it all.