Mental Health

Working On Us Week 21: Addiction

illustration of a brain encircled by the words mental health matters

It’s week 21 of the Working On Us mental health series hosted by Beckie of Beckie’s Mental Mess.  Please see her post for details on how to participate.  This week’s topic is addiction.

Addiction has never been an issue for me personally, but it was for my last boyfriend, so I thought I would talk about his story.

We met during my first hospitalization – me for depression, him for schizophrenia.  I think I found out about his crack cocaine use before we were discharged, but I’m not entirely sure about that.  He never used around me and he knew I wouldn’t have been okay with that, but the few friends he had other than me used drugs as well, and he would use when he spent time with them.

Looking back I’m not sure how much he was using, although I know it was probably more than I thought.  The effects of crack wear off pretty quickly, so it wasn’t always apparent to me that he’d used.  He could go for extended periods of time without using and not have cravings, which made me think he had somewhat more control over it than he actually did.

While occasionally his use would cause significant problems, on a day-to-day basis it didn’t have much of an effect on our relationship, which was otherwise very good.  He ended up moving in with me, and I was hopeful that with the mix of a stable home and a stable relationship he’d be able to get his addiction under control, and that was something that he wanted as well.  That level of stability was not something he’d had much of in his difficult life.  However, it wasn’t that I thought I could fix him; I was nowhere close to being that deluded.

Unfortunately, nothing was stronger than the pull of the addiction.  After three years together, that became clear, and I ended the relationship.  A couple years later we reconnected as friends, although I was very clear with him that his addiction was a deal-breaker in terms of rekindling the romantic relationship.

In 2015, he was coming to the end of a long hospitalization.  I dropped him off back at the hospital after he’d come over for a visit while out on pass.  That night he was going to spend the night at the new housing the hospital had found for him to move into upon discharge.  We planned to meet up the next day.

Instead of hearing from him the next day, I got a call from the hospital social worker to say he had passed away from an overdose.  I knew right away what the toxicology report confirmed later – it was fentanyl.  Heroin wasn’t his drug of choice, but he sometimes would do “speedballs”, a combination of morphine and heroin, and a fair bit of the heroin on the streets at the time was cut with fentanyl.

Addiction isn’t logical.  There’s nothing easy about dealing with addiction.  So often it’s based in trauma, and breaking free from those demons is far from simple.  Sometimes addiction is a lethal illness.  But it’s not about weakness.  It’s not about being a bad person, despite the bad things that may be done that are fuelled by the addiction.

People living with addictions, and those who love them, deserve society’s compassion rather than disdain.



20 thoughts on “Working On Us Week 21: Addiction”

  1. Ashley, I’m so sorry to learn of your ex-boyfriends overdose. That must have been so difficult to learn, but I’m sure it wasn’t a surprise.
    My cousin was an addict for years. I haven’t spoken to her for years, so I honestly don’t know what her situation is. However, my other cousin’s son nearly lost his life. He suffered so much brain damage, he’s basically a walking zombie, (I know that’s an awful example, but it’s the truth).
    Addiction within my family literally was a key factor to breaking up my family. I’m basically the only clean one. Heck, my brother wrote off every one as well as my sister. Me, I took the route of keeping clear of both of them.
    Can’t help someone that doesn’t want it. I hate to admit it, but I’m sure it will happen soon enough. I don’t see my brother surviving if he keeps this up. He’s lost his family, all his friends, and is most likely living on the streets in the literal sense.
    Addiction is a disease. It’s ruthless and doesn’t care. It’s such a shame to always hear of people dying due to their addictions.

    Thank you so very much for sharing your story on Week #21 of “Working on Us”, We greatly appreciate it. 💚

  2. Oh, damn. I’m so sorry to hear this sad story! I didn’t know… it’s devastating, I’m sure. I’m so saddened. 🙁 It’s just unthinkable. That’s awful.

  3. That is so sad. Addiction is a tragedy and they deserve compassion, as everybody does. Have you ever heard Dr Gabor Maté speaking on addiction? I believe he is from Canada, not sure though. He explains beautifully why love and compassion are needed.

  4. I’m sorry about your friend. Addictions take a lot of work and help from loved ones. My boyfriend gets mad and is checking that I am eating enough because he knows about my addictions with food

  5. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. My current “boyfriend” uses pot…a little more than he originally told me. He said it was just at night to sleep…but now it’s more of a relaxation if someone were to smoke a cigarette…he smokes pot .He doesn’t do it at work though. But if people are in his house (like the other night), he will go in the bathroom and smoke and then come out. This bothers me. We were broken up for a little because of a fight we got into..but then I missed him. We started talking and we are dating again. But..I can’t stand this addiction he has. It’s illegal where we live. I don’t know what I can do…I know he will never stop.

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