My friend has been on drugs (and sells drugs) pretty much most of his life. He spends money on prostitutes. Toronto Police have arrested him for possession and car theft. I went to an Ontario courthouse speaking in his favor, telling of the addiction treatment program he was doing. His mother has spent so much money on Ontario treatment programs and on him. The cycle never changed.
He would go to a program. He would be thrown out. His family would refuse his coming home. He would live in the streets. He eventually would come back home begging his mother to take him back, promising her he was good now, will hold a job, get a life and she would accept him again. He would go to another program. He would swear he would quit drugs. He even helped others get help. He would do something stupid and get thrown out of his program again. He would study self-improvement books, religion. He would try to quit on his own. He would call me and talk, getting encouragement. I would apply my addiction counselor skills, my communication skills and truly care. I would urge him on.
We would make an appointment for a dinner to meet in a restaurant. I would show up, wait 45 minutes calling his cell phone periodically but eventually go home knowing he was high on crack somewhere, probably with a prostitute. And weeks later I noticed him on Yonge Street in Toronto, selling drugs. So embarrassed he was.
I kept telling myself that he was a good person. And truthfully he isn’t all that bad. I have loaned him money. He’s paid me back. I have seen him try desperately to get a girl out of the Toronto massage parlors, and her life of prostitution because he knew she didn’t belong there. He would call on my help to talk to her because he himself was such a poor example that she couldn’t take him seriously. He’s promoted self improvement information to his friends. He loves his family and they, I think, love him but just can’t stand the constant betrayals anymore.
Yet he lies. He steals if he can. The cravings drive his life. His mother is on medications herself always concerned for him. And he lives on government compensation now, diagnosed as disabled due to his own addiction. He may be on another treatment program somewhere in Ontario; I lost track a year ago.
He tends to stay away from me now because he knows I lead a busy life and have spent so much time on him.
But I am still helping people because despite the above example there so many who DO come off drugs and alcohol, and lead a positive life. And because I have seen so many successes in others I would probably try again to help my old friend if he showed me that he wanted to change.
If you have a friend who is an addict, do try to help him (or her) and do find a program that really helps as it might just work. Help him pay for it if you have to. But make sure he wants to change for real and give him the support but decide where to draw the line if after years of trying, there is no change yet, or not enough change.
So if your friend is a drug addict, realize there is always hope unless he (or she) is outright evil. But if he is basically a good person, trust me, there is hope although unfortunately it sometimes takes a long time. I’ve been there too, long ago.
Brad Melnychuk, Canada.