During the midst of a busy Super Bowl Sunday, I was deeply saddened to hear the news that legendary actor Philip Seymour Hoffman had passed away from a drug overdose. He was incredibly talented, and to see that his life was taken from addiction was really tragic.
These kinds of terrible situations always remind me of a situation that hits too close to home: my ex-boyfriend, who I dated for almost five years, has been battling an addiction to drugs for almost six years now, and it is devastating to watch. Every time I hear about a celebrity (or anyone, really) who has died because of addiction, I think of him, and I feel horrible all over again.
Watching someone you care about become addicted to drugs is awful, to say the least. It leaves you feeling helpless, miserable and guilty. It’s not easy to deal with, but unfortunately, so many of us have to go through it. Over the past few years, I have felt so many different emotions towards my ex, from sadness to anger to frustration to that guilt I was just talking about. I’m definitely not saying I have it harder than my ex, I’m just saying that it’s difficult. Here’s my story:
I met D when I was 14-years-old, and I liked him immediately. He was funny, caring, charming, unique, charismatic, and incredibly smart. He was different than anyone I had ever known, and I was very intrigued by him. He liked me very much also, and after a year of confusion and messing around, our relationship became official. Things were great – until I realized that D was depressed (something I’ve written about before).
D wasn’t just a little sad sometimes. After a while, it became obvious that he was dealing with serious depression. He was suicidal, constantly getting very dark and talking about killing himself, and how death seemed so peaceful. Despite his charming and confident demeanor, D actually had almost no self-esteem at all. He was always putting himself down and talking about how awful his life was. I spent all of my time being worried about him. Drug addiction, alcoholism, and depression were common in his family. D was certain that he was going to end up the same way.
For five years, I tried as hard as I could to keep D stable and happy. Of course, I couldn’t – his depression was very real and serious, and not something an inexperienced teenager couldn’t handle on her own. Eventually, his unhappiness got to be too much and our relationship went really downhill. I had to break up with D, even though I cared about him and loved him very much.
About a year after we ended things for good, D started going down the wrong path. He was still seriously depressed when he started dating a girl who didn’t have a job or any ambition. Together, they spent all of their time watching TV and sleeping. This obviously made D’s depression worse. All of our mutual friends, my brother included (they have always been very close), told me how worried they were about D. I tried to reach out to him, but he never listened to my, or anyone’s, suggestions to get a job, get out of the house and try to have a life.
One night, I got in a huge fight with D, and a little while later, got a hysterical call from his friend saying that D had locked himself in the bathroom and had taken a bunch of his dad’s pain medication pills (Oxycotin). He refused to come out, and when he finally did, he ignored his friends and got in his car. High on prescription drugs, D drove around Long Island like a maniac while his friends tried to follow him to make sure he didn’t get into an accident. He called me from the car, crying and telling me he didn’t care what happened to him. After a few hours, he returned home and blew off the entire incident like it didn’t happen, saying he was just upset, it was no big deal, and even laughing about it. That was just the beginning.
I wanted to get him help then, obviously, but he had no interest in doing so. I was trying to move on with my life, so I tried to let him go. He had always relied on other people, especially me, for help, and I thought he needed to learnt o be more independent. For a while, he seemed okay… but then he started dating a girl who was selling him prescription pills like Oxycotin and Roxys. Both are incredibly dangerous and highly addictive. D started taking them on a regular basis, mixing them with alcohol, and refusing to listen to anyone who tried to stop him. D’s parents were blind to the drug abuse because they were in denial. They refused to believe it was happening, or do anything about it.
Whenever he was high on prescription pills, D would write elaborate Facebook statuses about his depression and how many pills he took, obviously a cry for attention. One night, he took a lot pills and drank a lot of alcohol, then wrote a suicidal Facebook status. A friend from high school saw it and called the cops at 3 AM. They went to his house, and dragged him, kicking and screaming, to a rehab facility.
When I heard about it the next morning, I was devastated, but also a little relieved. I knew he needed to go to rehab and I was hoping this would be good for him. But after two days, he insisted he felt 100 percent better and his parents, who were still in denial, helped him get out of rehab. It was the wrong move – he spiraled right back out of control a few months later. He started going to a psychiatrist, who put him on more prescription pills for anxiety and depression… and he got addicted to those.
That happened five years ago, and today, D is still addicted to pain killers and who knows what other kinds of drugs. A few years ago, he got high on pills in the morning, then drove to work – and got into a car accident that resulted in a minor head injury. He’s been in different rehab facilities several times. He’s been arrested a few times for things he did when he was high. He’s lost all of his friends from the past and has completely alienated himself from everyone. He lost his job, he stopped going to college, he has totaled a few different cars. He has gotten sober for months, only to go right back to the pills and the alcohol.
The worst thing is seeing how different D is now. He has completely changed because of the drugs. When I fell in love with him, D was one of the smartest people I had ever met. He aced every class without studying, got a 3.9 with no effort during his first semester of college, and constantly impressed everyone around him. He could speak well and act confident. Now, it seems like D’s brain has gone to mush. Talking to him is incredibly difficult for me, because he isn’t the same person. He speaks very slowly, and repeats himself a lot (partly because of his head injury). He has no ambition. He is always alone, and whenever you talk to him, he’ll tell you how lonely and sad he is. It’s horrible. The last time I ran into him, a few months ago, I walked away from our conversation with tears in my eyes. It was like my old D was gone forever, replaced by this empty shell of a person who was completely lost.
I often feel really angry at D for what he is doing to his life. It’s hard not to – he had so much potential, and he threw it all away because of drugs. But when that anger fades, I just feel really, really sad. D is so miserable, miserable enough to become addicted to pills. There are few things I want more in this world than to see D clean, sober, stable, successful, and most of all, happy. A lot of the time, I feel guilty that I am happy and he is not. I feel guilty that I can’t be there for him, partly because it takes too much out of me and partly because I don’t think I’ll be able to help. D needs to want to move past his addiction. I’ve moved on from D, but that has never stopped me from worrying about him.
Just recently, my brother told me that D was back on pills, and was supposed to go to a rehab facility an hour away from home for a while. I was hopeful for him, because I think he needs that. Unfortunately, a few days later, his brother told me that D had decided not to go. It seems like his addiction and depression are an endless cycle that he can’t get away from.
My worst fear is getting a call from someone telling me that D has overdosed and the situation was fatal. I don’t know what I’ll do if that happens. I’ve watched firsthand how drug addiction can completely ruin one person’s life, and I wish I didn’t have to. Addiction is a disease that is incredibly hard to get away from. Before you judge anyone with an addiction, or say it’s not a tragedy, please think about how devastating it is.
Do you know anyone struggling with addiction? Have you ever dealt with addiction yourself? How did you handle it? Tell me in the comments.