Coming Home After a Drug or Alcohol Binge…Now What?

addiction recovery

I have been the wife of an addict.

I have been the addict.

Married to an Addict

I would sit in the living room at night in a chair pulled up to the window facing the driveway. I would pray for those headlights to come. All I wanted was for my husband to be home.

I was a young mom and I desperately wanted my family to be okay. Keyword here is “desperately.” In my mind I always felt like I was racing against some internal clock. If he would just get clean and “be okay” before my kids were old enough to know what was going on, we’d be fine. Everything would be fine.

Unfortunately, everything wasn’t fine.

I learned about the intricacies of the disease of addiction first hand, and at the time, I understood very little. I thought my husband was choosing the drugs over being a father. I thought he was choosing the drugs over being a husband. At the time, I couldn’t see what I see now.

Being The Addict

After my father died, my own life spiraled into active addiction. It started with a few drinks and a prescription of Xanax, but soon turned into a decade of binging to numb the pain that seemed to flood my life daily. Suddenly I didn’t know how to deal with anything. I felt lost continuously. The more I used, the more confused I became. Sometimes I wondered if I had lost my mind for good.

By this time, the memories of being married to my children’s father were long behind me. They were young adults. I had raised them on my own and I never did understand what it was like from his perspective —until I lived it.

“Walk a mile in my shoes,” is what they say. This is probably the understatement of the century. Now that I’ve lived both sides of addiction I see the sickness of the family just as clearly as I understand, first hand, the sickness of the disease. There’s no better way to relate to the addicted brain than to become trapped in one.

Now that I’ve been in both places, what do I want to say when I talk to the family of the addict? I guess if I could write a letter from “the addict” to their family, my message would look like this:

Dear family,

I know you’ve been reeling with emotion while I’ve been gone. I understand you have dreams and hopes for a life with me. When I come home from my latest binge you’ll probably do two things. You’ll breathe a sigh of relief that I’m alive and you’ll also want to talk to me about my plans for the days and months ahead.

The truth is, I have no idea. You see, I don’t understand how to do life. I’ve lost a lot of tools along the way and some of them were never actually developed. I feel a huge amount of shame right now and confusing thoughts flood my mind continuously. I know you don’t understand what I’m going through, and you’re dealing with your own pain. You might want me to “just be okay” so I’ll attempt to walk that out for you, at least on the surface, at least for now, because honestly, I’m too exhausted from my last binge to think straight.

During the days and weeks ahead, if I don’t make a plan for my recovery, I’ll be dealing with my raw emotions and obsession to use again. I’ll deal with it all by myself. When I try to talk about it with you, I am often met with a blank look or worry. You don’t understand. I don’t understand. It’s frustrating and I feel like giving up every time I face something that seems ordinary to you.

I don’t want to go away and get help. Honestly, I don’t want to do anything. Everything feels hopeless and my life looks like a million dead ends. There is wreckage to clean up with people, finances, and with my physical state of well being. It’s all too much. Can I just go to sleep?

Okay, let me rethink this. I want to give you a glimmer of hope. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I just can’t see it right now and you certainly can’t see it for me. Here’s what I need you to do. First, tell me you believe in me. Second, don’t just plug me back into my daily routine and expect me to get it right this time. I’ve repeated this cycle a thousand times. It always ends exactly the same. Can’t you see that?

I’m scared and I don’t want you to tell me what to do, or give me an ultimatum…but that may be the best thing for me. The worst thing you can do is to get comfortable with my addiction. The worst way you can react is to let me come back and respond as if nothing has happened. I know you’re busy. You have a life, a job, and responsibilities…but please don’t pretend we’re not in crisis. We are.

I may tell you we’re not, but I’m bleeding. Every time I go out and use I’m dying a little bit more. I’m getting a little bit closer to our whole lives and future being stolen.

You don’t have to do the work for me. You don’t have to turn your back on me, but please…don’t plug me right back into the same merry-go-round I just got off of. It didn’t work then. It won’t work now.

I need help.

If I could have screamed these words to my family, I would have. I didn’t know how. My own addiction ended when I started sleeping with a loaded gun in my bed. At some juncture I decided suicide might be a good thing. I could no longer face the pain of disappointing everyone and I couldn’t escape the bondage I was in. If this was life, I didn’t want to live it anymore.

I was tired.

I was convinced that no one understood me, and honestly…no one probably did.

Finally, it occurred to me that if things were going to change, I would have to do something different. Very different.

I had to realize that the enemy of my soul wanted me to simply fall into this pattern of try-and-fail, try-and-fail. It’s easy to do, especially when we have responsibilities, a job, a home, a career, kids. We get a moment of clarity and become charged with some sense of false determination or willpower. “I can do this….I can be okay.”

The truth is, I wasn’t okay. I couldn’t be okay.

I had to be willing to put all my thoughts, fears, and solutions aside and commit to one solid truth, “My life was unmanageable and I needed help from a power greater than myself.”

Three days after that I was in treatment at a place I had never heard of with a group of counselors, pastors, therapists and professionals who had two amazing qualities. Number one, they were just like me. Most of them were living in long term sobriety, so they were fully aware of who and where I was. From the moment I walked in the door I felt loved, understood and overwhelmed with a strange sense of trust. Second, these people had the tools I so desperately needed to walk out my recovery…and they were willing to share them with me every day.

So many addicts are afraid of going to treatment. “I can’t leave my family for that long….Things will fall apart at home…My children need me.” The truth of the matter is, when we’re in active addiction, we’re gone anyway. Even when we’re sober our thoughts are all over the map and we’re certainly not the best version of ourselves.

This morning I talked to a young mom whose husband just came home from a week long drug binge. She doesn’t know what to do. Her husband doesn’t want to call anyone that has to do with a treatment center because “he doesn’t want to go away.”

I understand those thoughts. I had them.

They are as wrong as a hungry man saying he doesn’t want to talk to a restaurant owner because they might offer him food.

Whether you are a person in need of help or the family member of an addict, the best advice I can give you today is to pray for discernment to know when “the disease” is talking. It is cunning and baffling. Sometimes it seems to make sense.

The fear of “going away to treatment” is very real. It’s also very dangerous. When I checked into rehab, I was terrified and crying. By day 78 (the day I went home) I was sad to leave. Treatment in a loving, faith based facility was exactly what I needed. I was surrounded by people who God used to love me back to life.

Saying yes to recovery is not the end. It is a glorious beginning.

Whether your journey involves checking into a drug addiction treatment facility or committing to working the 12 steps with a sponsor, please do something. Just agree to start.
One good decision will support the next good decision and you will get better.

Recovery is real…but it has to have a starting point.

 

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, give us a call today. 239-440-6856

xo

About Robin Bright

Hi. My name is Robin Bright. I'm a mom, author, part of The John Maxwell Team and a recovery advocate who struggled with the torment of addiction for over a decade. I still remember what it was like. I know the desperation and hollowness of addiction. The stories here are about our journey to the light. They are raw, authentic, vulnerable. We talk about getting free, staying free, and loving ourselves through the process. I used to believe I had become the worst version of myself. And then God introduced me to me —as only He can. It is my hope that you will use the resources found here to uncover your own true identity...the vision God had when He formed you. xo

8 Comments

  1. Jen Tapp

    I think you just provided words and a voice for a countless number of folks in too much pain to do so for themselves. Thank you for being so honest Robin and sharing your journey. You challenge me to grow in my perception of others and the grace I try to extend. I still have much to learn.

    1. Robin Bright Post author

      Thanks for your encouragement, Jen. As a person in early recovery, I definitely have many face-to-face moments learning how to do life fully surrendered to God. I imagine we all do though. We are all in recovery from something. We’re all relying on our Creator’s limitless love and strength to carry us, and learning as we go. I am convinced that whenever I think I ‘have it’ I am close to destruction and when I think I have nothing at all, He is a fortress of strength around me.
      I’m glad this little website can reach others. I don’t understand it, but I guess I don’t have to. xo

  2. Debbie Hannon-Allegue

    Robin, all I can say is WOW! I had the chills at every paragraph! You are a Godsend…

  3. Tired and Fed-up

    Reading this information has given me light on what I am going through, married to a man that is addicted to drugs. I have been married for 34 years, and have been married to a man that is addicted to drugs and is in denial. I separated from my husband for 10 long years because of drugs. After being separated for 10 years, he did decide to go to rehab and get treatment. During this time I got involved with someone else and so did he. We have three children together and when he left my youngest child was 8 months old. We lost everything we had because of his addiction. I finally moved into an apartment with two of my children, my oldest child was away in college. To make a long story short, we reunited the marriage and now my youngest child is 16. But guess what my husband is back at it again. He stays out all night long three to four times a month, and he knows that he has to go to work the next day, and that doesn’t even matter to him, somehow he manage to go to work without any sleep, and when he returns he sleeps until it’s time to go to work again. He is lying again, and gets very upset when I tell him ok you back on drugs again. He tells me he is tired of me accusing him of being on drugs and gets extremely upset. I say to him if it’s not drugs then it must be a woman involved. He says it’s neither, and he is tired of being accused of using drugs or cheating on me. He hangs out where there is drugs sold and used, and refuses to stop going to this place. I have noticed that he usually does this on Sunday evenings and comes home late Monday morning, enough time to change clothes and go to work. I am so tired and fed up with this man but don’t know what to do. He is able to hold a job, and he will not argue and he has not become violent yet. He says it’s not drugs, but I know that it is. I need help, and I don’t know what to do. This has been going on about three years since we have gotten back together, I am tired, so tired of the lies, drugs, and sleepless nights. Help, are there any suggestions?

    1. Robin Bright Post author

      I have lived this life you are speaking of. I even tried to reunite with my first husband (the father of my three children).
      Every story is different, but I will tell you this…
      Listen to your gut. You laid it all out here in the comment you wrote. You know what’s going on.
      He needs help but you are not his savior. You can’t BE recovery for someone else.
      It’s just not how it works. You know that.
      This next step is hard…You are going to have to show your children what a strong, healthy person does for herself. If that means going to therapy…if that means taking them out of the situation…if that means explaining to them that you made a mistake but you are standing on God’s promises of restoration and healing….Whatever you decided, make sure you know deep in your spirit that it is the most healthy thing to do for your family.
      You can’t sit by and accept unacceptable behavior.
      I know you may be afraid of the transition period…walking away again…and starting over, but do you want to be in this same situation a year from now?

      Talk to God…really talk to Him. He will give you wisdom. That’s who He is.
      Much love and prayers for your family’s healing. xo

  4. Private

    I am glad I came across this article. I am more understand as to what my now ex was going through. I tried to understand. I just got so frustrated. He worked but never brought home money. He was a server and I knew he lied about how little he was making. I got so frustrated and lost my patience. After fight so much over money and everything he left. I was thinking of how I would bring up rehab and how I knew he was addicted. I didn’t know how to because we had went through this 7 years before and he left for a couple month until he ended up in jail. I took him back and he was sober untill this year. I think he sensed I knew and was going to soon start pressing for rehab. So he’s gone. I don’t know if and when he will come back. Now we have a six year old. So it’s way harder this time around. He doesn’t see her. We keep busy and I am trying to just move on with my life. It’s hard. He’s also running around with another women who also does drugs. Her mom is a enabler. So they stay there and use her car. I never would have guessed he would do this to us. He was sweet and it’s like a demon replaced him. Anyway the article was a great read.

    1. Robin Bright Post author

      I am sorry about your current situation but I am happy that you are educating yourself.
      Please know that it certainly is a demon that has taken over…and there is hope and deliverance for him.
      Continue to pray for him and believe that God will reveal His love to him, but definitely go on with your own life.
      Be healthy for yourself and your child.
      It’s so important. xo

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