When I first met *Charlie I found them charming, rude and hilarious. Neither of us can remember the day we met, but I was introduced to them through a mutual friend *Morgan. We soon became each other’s first point of contact for dinners, lunches, concerts and holidays.
The timeline of when they began dabbling in drugs was blurry, but I quickly found out after I moved in with them. In the beginning, it was seen as a “recreational habit”, and nothing to worry about. The first few months of us living together was bliss, there was mutual respect for our home and each other. Then Charlie began to disappear. It soon became normal not to see them from Thursday evening to Sunday night. Their behaviour really began to affect me, as our apartment stopped feeling like home. “Sunday Scaries” is the term used for trepidation and dread before the working week begins, for me it was not knowing what state Charlie would come home in.
I never brought it up to our mutual friends, as I feared looking like a backstabber. Keeping it a secret from their family was the worst, as over the years their family had become my extended family too. Charlie swore me to secrecy and I am embarrassed to say that I did keep it a secret. It was just something they did on the weekends, was what they always said.
One time after spending the day with my family, I came home to an empty flat as usual and was about to get ready for bed. In that moment I received a message from Charlie’s friend, *Avery, asking me to call them. Avery had spent the weekend at ours and was out with Charlie. After I got off the phone, I used Google maps to work out how to get to a London hospital.
As Charlie lay in a hospital bed, I thought “How on earth did it get so bad?” Apparently, Charlie had taken an almost lethal dosage of G, and Avery had called an ambulance. Charlie was surprised to see me when they woke up, and the first thing they said was “You have been waiting for that phone call since you moved in with me”. “Have you called your family?” I asked, and Charlie nodded yes. In reality, Charlie had downplayed what happened and spun a tale that they passed out from partying too much. Their family was still out of the loop.
I moved out a couple of months later as Charlie’s lifestyle choices had begun to seep into - and disrupt - mine too often. I think my past refusal to deal with or confront Charlie enabled them. As the saying goes, silence is compliance. After five years, Charlie came clean to their family and was sent to rehab, as the weekend recreational habit soon spread into everyday usage.
One day at a time literally means one day at a time. Some days are harder than others and sometimes it’s hard to remember that the Charlie I love is there somewhere. Charlie’s family continue to be a rock of support and they have taken complete control and responsibility of Charlie’s life for the time being. We have been having honest conversations recently and I admitted how much their behaviour affected me over the years. I also told them that “from now on you have to start being vulnerable, I know it’s not easy but it’s the only way we (friends and family) can help, and I will be vulnerable too.”
Maturity is holding someone accountable and not cutting them off as I did for many friends over the years, as I was afraid to rock the boat. Expressing your boundaries is so healthy and extremely important for both you and your friend. These conversations are not easy to hear, but as long as it’s done from a place of respect and love then that’s all that matters.
Not only has the abuse affected them physically, they now appear to be suffering from the mental effects of addiction. An example of this is Meth Psychosis.
“Psychosis is a mental health problem that temporarily provokes that someone perceives or interprets the world differently from those who are around them.We are talking about delusions (irrational beliefs that conflict with reality) or hallucinations (a perception of having seen, heard, touched, tasted or smelled something that wasn’t actually there).”
This quote was taken from the Controlling Chemsex Website, and it’s been so helpful for me. It shares the do’s and don’ts for someone who is suffering from Psychosis. I also often read the Talk To Frank Website and The Priory website to educate myself.
To anyone who is reading this and currently witnessing a loved one struggle with substance or alcohol abuse, you are not alone. There’s so much support out there.
*names have been changed to protect anonymity