Today when my colleague returned from a smoke break outside, he told me how he’d been approached by a man, who was fifty-something and looked strung out and desperate, yet well dressed and well spoken, who had then told him a story about being short of cash for a bus ticket and being in a dilemma, and asking for money. My colleague knows – hopefully not only because I have emphasized it to him many times – that the man is a drug addict. Also, the man forgot that he already tried that story about two weeks ago.
Normally when approached by such people, I say only the words, “I’m sorry. I can’t help you.” Then they go away. (Sometimes they persist, in which case I am rude to them.) But I was thinking about this as I drove home from work, thinking about what I would love to say instead, if only they would listen…
It doesn’t have to be this way. It really doesn’t. You don’t have to be enslaved by your drug. You don’t have to be desperate to get it, so desperate that you are willing to do anything, including humiliating yourself by approaching strangers at shopping malls and trying to con each out of a few cents here and there that eventually add up to make a hit. Considering that when you reach this point, you have already lost the trust of your family and alienated everyone who used to care about you, isolated yourself, it should be a huge red flag to you that you have placed yourself in this situation. If you were thinking straight you would realize that you should never have put yourself in this position, and that you need to get yourself out of it, no matter how difficult that may be. You should realize that it is unacceptable to live your life like this.
It doesn’t end there – I know. I knew people in rehab, straight men and even more women, who sold themselves to other men to get their fix. I met people in NA meetings who robbed to get their fix. You don’t have to live that meaningless life where a chemical is more important to you than anything else, where your life is empty and has no purpose. You don’t have to hate yourself; to come down and be ashamed; to look at others and imagine that they are judging you. You don’t have to live this life where nobody cares about you, least of all yourself.
You can be happy and normal, fulfilled and lead a good life, one that you can be proud of. You can be a good parent, and a good worker who is admired by your peers. But right now, it’s your fault that you are a junkie. You might think that begging or conning others out of money is harmless, but in reality you are a burden to others, and if they judge you harshly, that is to be expected. Don’t be angry when people refuse to give you money. I’ve met many who are, many who seem to think that others who are more fortunate than them should just give them money – that they deserve it somehow. You made your own poor choices, and I made my own good fortune. (Eventually.) While I empathise and I understand addiction because I put myself through it, I feel no pity and I owe you nothing. It’s your responsibility to get help; to find a way to get into rehab. That should be your only goal now. Rehab. Don’t think any further than that.