How do you help an addict? If you’re an addict, how do you help yourself?
It’s easy to judge.
It’s easy to justify.
Is there a place that’s in-between?
Can we go beyond the caricature? The tramp, sloshed on special brew? The teenage drunk, giddy with alcopops. Before we turn the lens on others, can we look at ourselves? – if so, are we prepared for what we might see?
A couple of glasses in the comfort of my own home. A few beers with the lads. Celebratory cocktails. After-work drinks. Mummy’s little helper. Life after all, is stressful. What’s wrong with a wee drink to make it easier? A gentle caress. A gradual drift into blessed forgetfulness. A blurring of the sharp edges.
I deserve a break. Don’t you understand: I’m tired, I’m Tired. Coiled like knotted rope. Wound so tight I don’t know how else to unfurl. Switch off the brain the thoughts the sadness. That first sip. Liquid warmth, flooding the dry spaces. My body, disconnected, but finally beautiful. Uncurling my fingers, marvellous the detail. Stretching out towards strangers – the urge to speak and connect. Everyone’s a friend. Tongue, loosened and light. I can say what I think. It doesn’t matter. It’s all okay.
It’s not like I’m falling out of clubs or vomiting on pavements.
It’s not like I need it.
And anyway, who are you to judge me? You do what you have to. Nobody’s business but mine. And I’m not harming anyone.
The paranoia. The headaches. Sheets soaked with sweat. Prickling – like your skin’s shrunk. Tongue thick with lies.
‘this time’s the last.
I’ve giving up.
I only had the one.
I swear to you, I didn’t spend it. I’ll get it back.’
Holes where the evening should be. Where am I? The walk of shame. The headaches. And the thirst. Dammit, the thirst.
And what if it’s not you?
What if it’s someone else? Someone you care about?
The friend. The parent. The sibling, the work colleague.
The bottles in the wardrobe. The tell-tale chink behind closed doors. They blink at you, uncomprehending. A private joke you wouldn’t understand. The person you love is in there, but you can’t reach them. You watch, helpless, as they pour themselves down the sink. You’re shouting at a drowning person and they can’t hear a word you say.
Armed with anger, apologies, excuses, denial.
‘It was the drink. I just saw red.
You shouldn’t have pushed it.
It won’t happen again’.
Easier just to let it go. To pretend it’s not there. To cover up – whether for yourself or someone else.
Blocked. Blasted. Hammered. Mullered. Blotto. Smashed. Mashed. Legless. ****-faced. Annihilated. Trollied. Leathered. Loaded. Tanked. Wasted. Wrecked. Gone.
Maybe this is the path you’re on. Maybe you’re watching someone else. Underneath the wreckage there’s a person. Someone valuable. Someone who needs help. You can’t rescue them. But if they want to get help, you can support them in it. And if it’s you – reach out. You can’t do it alone. But you don’t have to.