This is the fourth part in the story of my eventful and often strange friendship with Jake. You can read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
As soon as I met Jake, I saw that he had issues with drug and alcohol addiction. I knew his addiction could get worse, but I had no idea how far he would fall and how badly he would affect the people around him.
How should I navigate a friend’s extreme addiction?
Once after Jake stayed at my house, I found signs that he was abusing prescription painkillers. He admitted to using them, claiming it was under control and he would never use heroin. Knowing we shouldn’t enable him, my housemates and I forced him out of the house.
Years later, I still believe that was a good decision even though it was painful for me and him.
After he left our house, I remained in touch with Jake. He kept increasing the amount he used, then switched to heroin and disappeared for a few months. One day, he called to say he was glad he’d survived a near fatal overdose. The doctor had told Jake he was minutes away from dying!
This experience should have made Jake think, but he just went right back to his addiction. He spent all his money on drugs, so he couldn’t pay rent. He rediscovered my older friend, Jeremy, and asked to live with him for free.
Jeremy was the first guy with whom Jake had made out, the one Jake believed had “messed up his sexuality.” Jake never exchanged sex for rent, but Jeremy let him live there free and Jake “showed off” for Jeremy. It was very unhealthy!
As addicts often do, Jake used my older friend Jeremy’s sexuality to manipulate him — in this case, for free rent.
I felt responsible to help Jake and Jeremy, but neither would stop going down his destructive path. I went to Jeremy’s place several times to talk to them and maintain a friendship, but I could not stop either of them!
Eventually, Jake moved 3,000 miles away to be in a place where heroin was cheaper. Things got even worse for him. His brother also had a serious addiction problem and committed suicide in his parents’ garage. Jake returned for the funeral, and I talked to him at that event.
Jake and I went to a restaurant to talk. He was out of money and cut off from his drug supply, so he wanted to drink. I probably shouldn’t have done this, but I bought him alcohol and he had too much.
Jake talked freely. He believed his brother would still be alive if he had not started him down the path of addiction, depression, and suicidality.
Jake finally admitted that his addiction had not only destroyed the good things in his life and killed his brother but also would kill him soon if he did not stop.
I believe that was the turning point for him; he decided to get help.
For the next four years, Jake went through addiction treatment programs again and again. He fought and lost, over and over, but he kept fighting for his life. Eventually, he stopped using heroin, and after more battles he went off all medication!
He has been free for years now, has a responsible job, and actively follows Jesus Christ! I have great respect for Jake now. That inner strength I saw in him years ago is now on full display. There are very few people I know with the level of courage I see in Jake!
What did I learn from Jake? I found out I can’t force change in an addict. I can only point them in the right direction when they hit the bottom and become desperate.
I also learned that I need to be careful, because an addict may try to use my own sexual temptations to manipulate me.
Have you ever had a friend with a serious addiction? Were you able to remain friends through the addiction? Has a friend ever attempted taking advantage of your sexuality?
A long time ago, I used to babysit a kid named ‘Jeph’, maybe about a year or so. I honestly had not thought about him until he called me out of the blue in June. He was at his father’s house and needed to be picked up. I left work and picked him up. He was shaking. He told me that he had visited his Father and that he had pulled a gun on him. I was horrified! In further talking to him, I found out that he had been living on the streets and eating out of dumpsters – because of drug addiction.
He had been abused by his father, beaten so badly once that his eyes had bled. Later, after his mother had divorced his father, he had tried to buy his love (as a teenager) by offering him a life of no rules. But there was a price…his father got him addicted to drugs. First came alcohol, then some pot use. Of course that wasn’t enough, given that he had an addictive personality. Pot turned to heroin, and heroin turned to methamphetamine…all the while his father continued to beat him, all the while heaping on guilt that he was supposed to love him because the Church of Christ said so.
I gave him a place to stay, and for a while, things seemed to go good. He was working and all seemed to good. He was even going to recovery meetings with me (I have porn addiction). But then he moved out to his own place, in a trailer…and that’s where the trouble began, again. He had a tempestuous relationship with his girlfriend (she has her own problem with drugs). The night after they broke up, he overdosed on meth (it had bathsalts mixed in). For a few days he had no idea where he was. He had extreme paranoia and was hallucinating. He had to be hospitalized (this was in early October). He is still living down the shame of what happened, and that somehow he let me down. He didn’t.
My own addiction to porn and the many times I failed (been clean 11.5 months) has let me know that addiction is extremely hard to overcome. Mine is one that is mental, his is one that is physical. It all resides in the brain with the addictive personality type. I am one of them, and by the grace of God I never indulged with any drugs or alcohol (my mother was addicted to drugs and my father was an alcoholic). I can’t change Jeph, all I can do is be there for him, when he needs me. He told me that I was more of a real father to him than his own dad, and that he loved me as such. On hearing this, I could do nothing but weep for him.
Here’s to hoping Jeph finally gets his $^!+ together. Getting past survival mode to thriving mode is hard when your brain is intent on doing what you need to make you feel better.
Addiction is a weird thing. It’s really our brains working against us when it comes down to it. We feel bad. We want to feel good again. So we do whatever it is that will fix that. In response, our brain chemistry sets us up so we want to do it again and again to our own self destruction in some cases. It’s hard to break the pattern. Relapses happen. Some would say it’s inevitable. I’ve given up smokeless tobacco several times. The craving and withdrawal is intense. It has kicked my @$$ several times. I suppose there are worse things, but I am hooked none the less. I understand the process.
On another subject, you mentioned the Church of Christ. Is that your background? It is mine. I went to ACU for my undergrad back in the late 70’s. It was a very conservative and strict environment. It also, strangely, had a gay subculture and drug culture that everyone was loathe to discuss, but seem to know about. I am lead to believe that things have changed there and they are more open and helpful with those issues, but I cetainly understand how negatilvely such an environment could effect someone back in the day.
You have had an interesting life Bradley Joel. Here’s to hoping you get to enjoy some boredom. A friend of mine says that boredom is the absence of tragedy. I kind of like that.
Actually I go to a Baptist church, more of a habit than anything as that was what my limited exposure to religion was. Being apart from the faith for 20 years has made me comfortable no matter where I hear the word.
It helped Jake to know that I did not look down on him when he failed, but that I wanted to help him keep fighting. It sounds like you are doing the same!
I did have a “friend” with a serious addiction. It was my younger brother suffering from alcoholism. After undergoing rehab, a divorce and taking recovery steps in A.A., he seems in better shape these days. However, my parents and I rarely chose to be around him for any extended period of time. I haven’t spoken to him face-to-face since December of last year. Yeah, he can be that bad. My brother is very egotistical and very contemptuous particularly towards me and my life choices. I don’t know what I plan on deciding to do during the upcoming holiday season. Do I show up at his place AGAIN like last year just so he can passively berate me in front of my parents and his wife and kids? He can be such a bully. I think his whole “act” is just to make him think he is better than me. Just as bullies do. To get back to your question, the answer is no. We have not remained friends through the addiction. Whether he’s sober or drunk is irrelevant. He remains disgraceful. If he wants to thinks he is better than me, then fine. You can do it alone, dear brother. I have other people I’d rather spend my time with other than you.
There is a time and a place to have strong boundaries with an addict so you and others don’t get hurt. I did that with Jake. I would recommend not cutting off all communication because you should give him a path back to the family if he turns away from his bad direction.
My best friend, Chris, from 1st grade. He was the only family I had for the longest time and we been through so much and his addiction destroyed our friendship…our brotherhood.
Denial is very powerful…let myself believe it wasn’t anything. Just pretend that I didn’t see him snort crystal meth.
One day he came up to where I moved away to spend a few days away and was lit the whole time on adderal pills. Used my computer to get on FB and he didn’t log out and when he left and I was using my laptop I found he was talking to someone I thought was our enemy…the same guy that introduced and got us and our friends hooked on Crystal meth.
The things he said about me…calling me a fag and faggot behind my back and I never said I was that way. He only said those things to get his connection back by destroying our bond. He sold his soul for a hit. He sold his only true brother.
This was when I was 19/20 at the time and I didn’t understand. Even if I am gay why should that change what we been through?
Sadly, Chris was behaving like a typical addict, sacrificing his friendship with you for his drug of choice. I suspect he would not have let your sexual struggles end the friendship if he was not addicted to meth. Sexuality was his excuse. Meth was the real reason.
I was warned before I moved away that I would lose my best friend to drugs. I didn’t wanna believe it, but I also thought it meant death.
Our friendship was worth a single hit of meth…to some guy who ratted him out when he got busted. We were kids in high school and on such a “high” we really thought we were kingpin status.
Thank you Marshall R. I really didn’t see it that way.
I was in a relationship many years ago and my partner wanted to separate. I soon found out why. He wanted to use drugs again. He had a previous issue with them but had been clean for many years when I met him.
I came home one day with another guy in the LR and they were doing drugs. I didn’t want to be a part of it so eventually he moved out.
To make a long story short, I tried to stay friends with him but he destroyed his immune system and died of AIDS not many years later.
Broke my heart.
Brian, I can only imagine ho much it must have hurt to lose him. Drug addiction is so destructive, many people don’t survive it. It not only hurts the addict, but also many around him or her!
Part of the reason why I broke up with my exboyfriend was his addiction to drugs. It reminded me too much of my mother’s problem with drugs.