Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
Jack Had No Problem Buying Drugs, But He Won’t Pay For Treatment
— Jack (not his real name) recently contacted me asking for help. He was feeling hopeless and had thoughts of ending his life. It wasn’t the first time Jack has reached out for help. We’ve spoken a few times before. Jack is a heavy drinker and uses cocaine and heroin. Jack is married with a two-year-old daughter. He works in the oil field and makes good money. He and his young wife recently bought their first home. Jack thought getting married, buying a home and having a family would make him feel happy and stop abusing drugs. But that didn’t happen. Instead, Jack says he’s using more drugs now than ever before. Jack says instead of feeling better about his accomplishments, he feels worse. Jack says he feels empty inside and believes he is set on self-destruct. Jack knows that when his life is going good, he always does something to screw it all up. The first time Jack and I spoke, we agreed on a plan. Jack was resistant to going to treatment, but he agreed to reach out for help, attend recovery meetings, and start seeing a counselor who specializes in addiction and mental health. Jack said if he relapsed and needed more support, he would go to treatment. [lorelie-callout] Unfortunately, none of that happened. Instead, Jack returned to work with all his troubles buried deep within him and white-knuckled it for the next month. After he got home from work, it was party time. Jack says he barely saw his family at all. In the last year, Jack started using heroin to help him stop using cocaine. Jack says he’s not addicted to heroin, he just uses it to come down from cocaine when he needs to sleep. On his most recent binge, Jack spent all the money he’d been saving to buy a motorcycle. He left home for a week, staying in a drug house where he bought himself and many others a ton of dope. Jack only went home when he was broke. Now, instead of a new Harley in his garage, Jack is left with empty pockets, broken promises and a feeling of utter despair. I reminded Jack of his promise to go to treatment if he couldn’t stay clean and sober, but he didn’t want any part of that. Jack says he can’t afford treatment and even if he could, he doesn’t want to pay for it. What Jack fails to understand is that he is sick with a progressive illness that, if left untreated, can be fatal. Jack struggles with the same thing most people with addiction struggle with- pathological and dishonest thinking. While Jack had no problem buying drugs or paying for them, he was a miser when it came to spending money on his family or saving his life. I reminded Jack that his drugs weren’t free. He acknowledged this and said, “That was different.” I asked him to explain. But Jack couldn’t really explain how drugs were different other than to say they made him feel good. Again, I reminded Jack he wasn’t feeling good. He was feeling hopeless because he’d relapsed and spent all his money again. Jack seemed baffled by this. As if he couldn’t understand his thought process either. Unfortunately, Jack is not alone. Those struggling with addiction think nothing of spending their last dime on drugs or alcohol. However, when it comes to investing in their health, they don’t want to spend any money. They’re delusional and don’t believe they’re sick. They blame their addiction on other things like stress, depression, financial or family problems. Many of us think if the substance use stops, the person’s problems will also stop- but that’s not true. Substance misuse is only 15 percent of the problem. The real problems lie underneath the surface. You can’t see this disease by looking at appearance, at least not at first, which is why addiction is grossly misunderstood and undertreated. Jack is struggling with denial. He is unable to accept he is sick with a terminal disease. Jack says addiction is not a disease, it’s a choice. But he is baffled about why he can’t seem to stop when everyone else around him can. He does admit the more he tries to control his using, the more it controls him. Jack also acknowledges he doesn’t feel good when he’s sober. He says it’s like something is missing in him and the only time he feels really good, is when he is high. Jack is right about one thing. Something is missing from his life- himself. Addiction isn’t really about drugs or alcohol. It’s the absence of self. You can’t love yourself or others when you’re empty inside. Treatment pulls back the painful layers and heals the void through connection, honesty and hard work. Many struggling with addiction also struggle with mental illness, mood disorders, anxiety and painful pasts. Without group therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, psychiatric evaluation and long term support, Jack will continue to spiral downwards. Eventually, Jack will stop caring if he relapses and become another statistic of this disease. Although Jack doesn’t know it yet, should he agree to enter a treatment program, he’ll make sense of his life rather quickly. He’ll find out why he sabotages himself and learn coping skills to avoid another relapse. He will also find the relief he’s been searching for in drugs and alcohol, in group therapy. Best of all, Jack will feel good about Jack. He’ll be able to love his family and be fully present when spending time with them. Plus, with the money he saves by staying clean and sober, he’ll have that Harley in no time. If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 844-470-0410.