She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to…Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.
I’m currently looking at my best friend’s dog sleeping by me. (I’m taking care of the dog.)
He is still using Tina and keeps calling me for help which I cannot give anymore. I am not a doctor or counselor or psychotherapist.
I had hoped my friend would stick to his appointments to get help, but no. Drugs win. He is now suffering from psychosis and facing eviction.
How does one help someone at 50? I cannot cope with trying to help him anymore. What do I do?
*A note for those who may not know — “Tina” is slang for crystal meth.
First, let me say that I know how horrible it can be watching someone you love quickly, or slowly, blow their life apart with drugs. Anyone who has read my column for some time knows that I have been both you and your friend in this situation. And, it’s not pretty on either side. I get the feelings of helplessness, as both the addict, and as the loved one of an addict. It’s so painful.
What you and your friend have in common is that neither of you have any control over his addiction.
There’s a reason, in the rooms of 12-step support groups, that the disease of alcoholism and addiction is referred to as “cunning and baffling.” It can take loving, smart, and sane people deep into the throes of psychosis, criminal activity, and a level of hell that those who have not lived it find impossible to comprehend.
The ramifications of long-term addiction become sharper and often more devastating as people get older. I have had friends who were using when I was in my 20s, who continued to use long after I got clean. The thought of being in that purgatory of addiction now, over 40, sends a shiver up my spine.
If someone came to me today and said I had the choice of either living the rest of my days addicted to heroin or shooting myself in the head, it would take but a nanosecond for me to put that gun to my temple. That may sound overly dramatic, but that’s how bad it was for me in the final days of my drug use.