Hostility Among Friends

Today a friend caught me using.  In a general attempt to avoid presumptuous conclusions, I strive to keep an open mind to how people react to anything in life, but there are a few reactions that I can generally expect to bank on.  My everyday life is dichotomized into two distinct worlds…one with drugs, and one without.  I have logged a lot of hours trying to keep them separate and tie up loose ends, but lately, I feel them converging.  It scares me.  So far, my using has been accompanied by a degree of predictability in both realms.  In the world with drugs, standards of behavior are low enough that nothing is shocking anymore.  People are violent, aggressive, indifferent, and caustic.  In the sober world, such destructiveness is not tolerated, and would certainly elicit strong condemnation.  Loyalty is paramount.


My friend broke that streak of predictability today when he discovered my skeleton in the closet.  I quickly conjured up a host of responses that I’ve mentally rehearsed for just such a moment, but he beat me to it.  After stating his surprise, he told me drugs are stupid and people who use them are stupid.  I defensively retorted, “Yeah, well, I’m trying to get a handle on it,” and he fucking laughed at me.  His laugh was insulting, prolonged, and in my face.  He expressed no concern or curiosity.  He was bold and unabashed and doubled up in laughter.  It left me stunned.  My friendship with this person meant the world.


His response troubles me.  More and more “sober” friends are finding out about my substance abuse, but for every one that knows the full extent, there are probably two who don’t.  I’ve woven an intricate web of concealment, and when that fails, I remove myself from the group.  I’ve come up with more excuses than I thought humanly possible to explain my absence from everything.  Addiction is a lonely way of life, and it doesn’t take people long to forget.  In that sense, the drug world has routinely offered a relaxed and tolerant respite, because excuses and justifications are never demanded (except in the form of currency, of course).  Now that I’m trying to rebuild healthy contact with people, I’m questioning my next move.  If my friend’s response speaks for others, I might be making a mistake.  Maybe I should let sleeping dogs lie and start over completely…?  It’s frustrating that I managed a half-assed balancing act for a long time, and now that I’m trying to do the right thing, it’s all unraveling.  Adversaries seem to be increasing on both fronts.  Members of my “deviant” circle are lashing out at my attempts to clean up to the point of being aggressive and threatening.  It seems every effort to mobilize toward sobriety is a boomerang right back in my face.  If it’s this hard now, how much harder is it going to get?





Filed under Drugs, My Life

5 responses to “Hostility Among Friends

  1. bottlecappie

    What a jerk to laugh at you, to miss an opportunity to oh, I don’t know, be a friend and offer support? Because that’s what a friend should offer a friend who is going through something like addiction, right? Bah, this makes me so mad for you.

    You will probably lose some friends if you make any big change in your life, but especially I think when you try to get away from a drug habit. That, I think, is one of the main functions of inpatient rehab – it’s gets you away from the social context of your use for a while. But you also might be pleasantly suprised by some of the friends you’re afraid of telling. It’s scary as hell, to face judgement and ridicule and ostracization – but the people who would treat you like that are unworthy of you anyway ;) . Conversely, when someone you didn’t have much hope for understanding responds with support and compassion it absolutely reaffirms your faith in people and grows your heart and your confidence.

    Can you talk to your therapist about how to reach out to the people in your life?

    In any case, I will be here reading and you’ve got my support.

  2. Nusku

    Just to play devils advocate for a second – I wonder if your friend was laughing to cover up something form his own past? I’ve seen people laugh in the most inappropriate places, not because they find amusement but because they don’t know what else to do.

    My friend who’s been clean the last six months or so (longest time she managed in years and years) has been pretty shocked at some of reactions from people around here. Its as if drugs suppress emotion not just in the user but in those close to the user – and when the drugs stop the emotions bubble out.

    Its a storm you need to walk though – part of the process. Don’t give up, keep on the path to getting clean and staying clean.

  3. Hi bottlecappie, I do yearn for the inpatient advantage of being removed from my social context, because it’s so hard to change when nothing else around me is really changing. I’ve developed all these patterns and alliances, and they’re hard to break. But I have been quite pleasantly surprised by a few friends. Positive encouragement seems like the exception to the rule so far, but it’s a gem I treasure, because it can make all the difference.

    My therapist suggested getting a few people together that I can trust and reach out to. They would sort of act as a safety network to turn to if I’m struggling not to use. Sometimes it’s ironic because the people who are the most supportive are fellow users. I have to learn to distance myself from them, which is hard, but I can’t stay clean in their presence. I talked to a couple of people who agreed to be a sober source of encouragement, and I’ll mention it to my therapist on Thursday.

    Your support means so much. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  4. Hi Nusku, I didn’t think of that. It’s possible that my friend might have been uncomfortable or set off by something. It would be good to talk to him about it. I think I was just so stung that I reacted by shutting down.

    Addiction is an individual problem, but the effects definitely are definitely contageous to an extent. Like your friend, my periods of using and quitting have an emotional impact those around me. Thanks for your encouragement.

  5. Nusku

    His reasons, whatever they might be, are probably just a side street that takes you off course – you need to keep your mind clear and focused on getting clean and staying clean, that’s where your future is to be found. I think you probably have to accept that being “stung” is going to happen quite a bit, but you can definitely get through it – if you choose to.
    Here is an interview with John Frusciante in 1996 at the height of his heroin addiction, its worth reading because it shows just how bad it can get. Yet he managed to get out of this amazingly deep hole, get clean and get a life again. (PS for the record his solo work is WAy better than the RHCP in my view !)

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