It hurts so bad to think I cannot save him, protect him, keep him out of harm’s way, shield him from pain. What good are fathers if not for these things? — Thomas Lynch regarding his son’s drug addiction
The many effects of addiction in the family show that holidays can be a very difficult and sad time for people who have loved ones or family members who struggle with addiction. And Father’s Day is no exception. Family-focused holidays such as this bring back many memories that have made significant impacts on the lives of every family member.
For Ronald (not his real name), Father’s Day brings plenty of mixed emotions. It brings him back to five years ago, wasted in the office of his crumbling business, where he hid during what was his first Father’s Day. He left his wife and their newborn on a four-day binge on crystal meth while weaving in and out of casinos. He hasn’t bathed in three days, his cheeks were peppered with unshaven stubbles and his eyes are hollow. He felt hollow.
Ronald’s story isn’t unusual. Many people, both men and women, have been in or are currently going through, the same situation. Addiction comes to you regardless of your job, your career; regardless of how people regard you in society; it doesn’t care what your gender, ethnicity, or religion is.
When you fall into addiction’s trap, you start living your own version of hell and the worse part is, you’re not the only one affected. In Ronald’s case, addiction has taken his family hostage. He hasn’t told his wife, who just gave birth to their son, what he’s been doing. She suspects there’s something wrong, but he just told her he’s busy at work and can’t come home. She’s left alone, but in her mind, she’s juggling different emotions–fear, worry, hurt, loneliness, guilt, and despair. Chances are, the nights he hasn’t come home, his wife was wide awake and gripped with worry and suspicion. But Ronald will never know–or understand–this. Not in his state.
Ronald has lost his ability to control himself, empathize with other people, and weigh the consequences of his actions. Whenever he makes that detour to his pusher before heading home, he forgets everything else and only that feeling of having the drugs inside him. Each time this happens, he tells himself that he can handle it, that this won’t take long and he will be home soon–but it never happens. He uses more and more…and he can’t stop.
Soon, he used up all his savings, his business is going down the drain, his credit cards are all maxed out, he ran up a lot of debt, his wife hates him, and their marriage is about to end. He can’t call his parents anymore, they have given up trying to bail him out each time. So he’s stuck hiding out in his office–because he has nowhere else to go.
That night in his office, which smelled of burnt chemical, he is faced with a fork in the road.
It’s been five years since then. He took the path that would lead him to recovery, health, life.
Today, Ronald is clean-shaven. He has gained his weight back. He no longer resembles the wasted, broken man from five years ago. The road to this moment has been an uphill one, but he had his family to think about. He had to be stronger than the pull of his old life of addiction. Each time he thinks about
meth, he looks at the ring he got when he graduated from rehab and visualizes his family. They represent everything that he holds dear.
Ronald has learned the hard way and he has hurt people along the way but he has slowly made amends. Some people in his shoes five years ago might go on and may even end up losing it all before finally admitting their problem. For some, it could be too late.
Whether you are a father or are contemplating about being one, if you continue with your addiction, you leave behind nothing but a legacy of suffering, hurt, and despair for the people who loves you. Just ask Ronald. Like him, we could all use some help, some hope.
You don’t have to be a father to seek help this Father’s Day. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please call or text this confidential hotline for assistance and support: