By Claudia Kelley
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,and the wisdom to know the
If you’ve ever had a loved one that’s been a victim of drug or alcohol abuse, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Their company sober versus under the influence is like difference between the first day of spring and the most abysmal day of winter for a while. You tell yourself that ‘they just aren’t themselves when they’re high (or drunk)’ You convince yourself that you can help them to change- that if they just understood how much you love them, they would stop. But after a while, seeing this person- who you care about and love so much- just feels like an unfortunate, monotonous process; you resign yourself to the knowledge that they aren’t going to change themselves, but you desperately cling to the hope that maybe, just maybe, if you care enough and try hard enough to convince them they don’t need to abuse a substance to be happy, they’ll stop.
A while after that, though, you stop praying that they’ll admit, or even just realize, that they’re an addict, because you realize that you can’t change a single, godforsaken thing. You begin to believe that if they actually cared about you- or anything- they would stop, and even though you’re aware of the fact that their addiction is an illness, you find it impossible to internalize. How could it be an illness if they refuse to seek help, or could will it away? You find yourself in an awkward, anxious state in which you cut off contact with them, but you’re still making excuses for them excuses for them, because you don’t know how to say “I don’t know how my dad is doing because I can’t handle his addiction” or “I don’t talk to my sister anymore because she chose the bottle over her family”. Maybe they’ll hit rock bottom; maybe they’ll get clean. You never get your hopes up, though, because you can’t handle another failed expectation.
Drug and alcohol addiction affect thousands of families every year. In Michigan, 13.9 per 100,000 people suffer from drug fatalities per year, making the state’s drug mortality rate the 18th highest in the nation, according to the study Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic. This number has tripled since 1999. Due to these unfortunate statistics, 1,542 people died from drug overdoses in Michigan in 2007, as reported by the White House in its Michigan Drug Control Update. Additionally, 60% of Michigan adults, aged 18 and older, used alcohol in the past month, while 16% of youth aged 12-17 consumed alcohol, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health. These numbers are a sobering reflection of how the issue of substance abuse has directly affected those around us in the recent past. With awareness, compassion, and support, this number can be greatly decreased. Every life is valuable, and none are worth losing over an addition.
For additional information, please contact Lansing Narcotics Anonymous: 517-371-8606, Lansing Alcohol Anonymous: 517-377-1444, Lansing Al Anon: 517-484-1977 or The Listening Ear Crisis Hotline (24 hours): 517-337-1717.
Claudia Kelley is a senior at Eastern High School. She plans to attend college next year and study finance/law. Claudia enjoys writing, reading, Cadbury Eggs, and lizards.
Editor’s note: For those who do not live in the Lansing, Michigan area, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at 877-SAMHSA-7 (877-726-4727).
This was printed in the March 9, 2014 – March 22, 2014 edition