On a Serious Note: Who Wins More Often - The Addict or the Demons?

Every so often, the near fantasy world of playing rock ‘n roll music, drawing childish cartoons, and writing semi-humorous self-deprecating tomes must give way to real life.  In fact, real life is what we do every day.  Real life includes jobs, families, friends, and responsibilities.  It is filled with happiness, melancholy, disappointments, successes, and a gamut of emotions too numerous to list.  In real life, we deal with demagoguery, a plethora of phobias, isms, and just plain hate, intolerance, incivility, ignorance, greed, falsity, and hypocrisy.  The real life that surrounds us has unemployment, homelessness, hunger, disease, and crime.

Over the last couple of months, we got to see some success stories which are personal to us.  Some of my friends reported with pride the anniversaries of their continuing sobriety -- from alcohol, heroin, painkillers, and other drugs.  They were appreciative of family and friends who supported them.  They had fought -- and continue to fight -- demons which once were overpowering and controlling.

During the same time, Whitney Houston’s death and addiction were headline news in both the “legitimate” media and tabloids.  But not all addicts are celebrities or front-page news.  They are everyday people like my friends.  Each of us knows and deals with addicts in our real lives.

Unfortunately and on a personal level, not every story is successful.  I watched with helpless horror what happens when the demons are winning.  Addiction can turn a healthy, intelligent friend into a comatose recluse who cares nothing of self, friendship, or family.  In the span of a few drinks or a few hours, addiction takes people from engaging to blithering, from attentive to a stupor, from dependable to useless, from conscientious to careless, and from caring to selfish. 

The demons indeed can be overpowering and controlling.  Like death, they can take away someone whom we cherish.  Losing a friend or family member to addiction is more difficult than losing a friend or family member to death.  Watching somebody’s addiction push family members away is confounding.  Watching somebody’s addiction destroy their livelihood is saddening.  Watching somebody’s addiction alienate friends is gut-wrenching. 

Unfortunately, we must stand by and watch.  Until the addict admits the addiction and decides to take on the demons, our attempts at bringing about change are futile.  We are told that, instead of helping, we are enabling the addict.  We find ourselves making excuses for the addict.  We cover up for the addict.  We then realize that we are being manipulated.

And we experience a feeling that we should be doing more.  Feeling helpless.  Feeling that, if we back away, something bad will happen to the addict.  Feeling hurt.  Feeling guilty that we feel hurt by the addict.  The toll on family and friends is unimaginable.

I need all of one hand to count the number of friends I have who have said, “My dad was an alcoholic and committed suicide.”  I am not so sure that this is unique to my friends.

Incredibly, we all know addicts.  Just as we all know recovering addicts, we all have lost a friend or family member to addiction.  In your experience, who wins more often -- the addict or the demons?

All of this shows why escape to the innocence of rock ‘n roll can be welcome.

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