Photo by S Citizen

Do you feel all over the place?

Are you struggling to do basic things like the washing and food shopping – in the sense that it requires huge effort to motivate yourself to do these things? Do you feel that you couldn’t care less what you look like when you go out the door?

Bills mounting up? Having trouble dealing with problems in the house that would have been easily dealt with a few years ago?

We can all feel these things at times, but if this describes you on a day-to-day basis, then your life has become unmanageable.

What happens to us is that our energy gets so severely depleted that eventually we are ‘running on empty’.

The Addict has acted out, thrown temper tantrums, shouted at us and trashed rooms and furniture in the house. Or he has retreated to his room and hardly ever emerges (except to go out to score more drugs).

We’re exhausted from constant fights, trying to reason with someone who is beyond reason, clearing up the house when he’s trashed it, and not being able to get into his room to clean it. You know that feeling when you sneak a look into that room and you see the floor littered with take-away cartons, beer cans, rubbish and dirty clothes? It’s like – “How did this happen? How did our house deteriorate into this state?”

The mess that sits there up in his room is like a black gas cloud that sucks the oxygen out of the house and sucks the energy out of the family. You are deep in the middle of chaos.

Beyond unmanageability, the family descends, gradually at first, and then headlong – into helplessness and denial. One or more of you may become deeply depressed. You stop seeing your friends or don’t return their calls. People ask you how you are and you say “Fine” – because you don’t know where to start in telling them what is actually happening. So you cover up, or maybe tell small fibs like: “Oh, he’s setting up an online business – so difficult for the young people to get a decent job”. Or you talk about the difficult break-up he’s had with his girlfriend. The one thing you don’t fess up to is that he’s using drugs. And this is because you’re probably not being honest with yourself about this. You cling to the hope that this “phase” will pass.

This crazy business of presenting a mask to the outside world wears you down. The fibs, pretence and dishonesty leave you drained – and you don’t even realise that your denial about your situation is contributing to your tiredness.

You wake up in the morning with a feeling of dread and you don’t know why. Then you remember. And it’s so difficult to get out of bed and face the day. The Addict, of course, stays in bed till after lunch, having been up most of the night. It’s like having a huge parasite sitting in that bedroom who emerges only to eat the food from the fridge. He is probably stealing money from your purse when you forget to keep it with you all the time, generally creating chaos and sucking the life-blood out of the rest of the family.

You quarrel with your partner or spouse about how to deal with this. One of you wants to yank the addict out of bed, the other wants to leave him there in order to get a few hours’ peace. This is just an extended gap year, you say to yourself – he’ll grow out of it.

Your son may have become violent and you feel you’re walking on eggshells, trying to avoid the horror of your child having turned into a monster. He may have been admitted to A&E due to an overdose, or he may get caught up in the violence that goes with the territory surrounding drugs.

But let’s not get lost in all this now.

Although emerging from this chaos is no picnic, there is a way through.

It won’t be easy or quick. There will be two steps forward and one step back.

I have one very important thing to tell you. You can do this – one step at a time. See Help – my Life is in Chaos (Part 2). The Next Step – Support for You.