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Supporting and Enabling Addicts with Money


Supporting and EnablingLooking back at my progression from an addict to a sober person has really changed my relationship with money and addiction.  I’m just starting to regain a grasp on the meaning of money in my life and its healthy purpose in ensuring my recovery.  I’m now much more conscience of my daily spending and balancing of my budget, but this wasn’t always the case.  I was once consumed with money and I used it to enable myself and others in our addictions.

I used money for more than just a selfish tool further my own addiction.  I used it to pay for friends’ addictions so that I would not feel so lonely and isolated in my personal battles.  This almost defies common logic as the addict normally wants to use his or her money to only further their own habits and get in every last possible fix or high.  Though this was always at the top of my list, a close second was my need to have others around me while using to lessen my guilt.  My pattern was to get high, not sleep for three days, miss work, and spend every one of those nights and days glued to a video game console.  This pattern caused me intense amount of guilt and shame, which was lessened by having a comrade-in-arms to do lines with and play video games with.  The presence of another person partying with me made me feel a (completely backwards) sense of comfort.  I wasn’t the only addict in the room, and now I had a buddy to stay up with at all hours of the night as we wreaked havoc on our physical health.  When I had my using buddy in the room,  I didn’t think about what I was doing to my body, what I was doing to my parents, and how I was making poor choices that would have a HUGE impact on my future.  I also did not know that the guilt and shame I thought I was avoiding, by having a friend, would continue to haunt me in treatment and in my sobriety.

Paying for my buddy’s habit somehow made sense to me.  He couldn’t afford it and if he wasn’t getting it from me he’d probably move on to the next “friend.”  I use the term “buddy” loosely as most of the friends I made while using bear no resemblance to the true friends that I have today.  These are people that love me for me.  I saw the opportunity to avoid the void of loneliness drug use provides when abusing by myself.  This guy scooped up every dollar I gave him and used me, my home, and my stuff like they were his.  The truth was that I could care less at the time.  I had a partner in crime that made self-reflection and an evaluation of my poor choices irrelevant.

Getting sober has drastically changed my relationship with money.  I don’t steal anymore or sell off my possessions to get funds to facilitate my drug habit.  Yet, I had an interesting encounter with the aforementioned “buddy” with who I used to use.  I had purged my phone directory of all past drug associates and had finally been able to un-memorize all my drug dealers and connects’ phone numbers.  I was in a better place and doing well; back at work and beginning to repair my relationship with my family.  I had managed to put together a good amount of time without accidently scrolling through my cell phone and seeing a triggering contact and having the temptation to call that old connect.  I now had good people at my disposal to help me in my recovery.  Yet, one night, I got a knock on my apartment door at 12:30 at night.  I was already awake watching a movie, but was still very caught off guard.  I assumed it was a neighbor needing help or some other common reason for knocking at such a late hour.  However, when I opened the door, I was shocked to see my old using “buddy.”  He was visibly strung out with bloodshot eyes and tremors all over his body.  He informed me that he was in trouble and needed $100 to get a motel room for the night because the “wrong people” were looking for him.  I felt an immediate pang of sadness; not anger.  I welcomed him in and tried to make him sit down.  It became immediately clear he wasn’t here to talk; he was here for a handout.  I didn’t think twice and handed him the money; not out of a sense of helpfulness, but out of a feeling of guilt in my gut.  What would happen to him if I didn’t give him the money?  My mind wandered and I pictured him beaten up and bloody sitting in the gutter in a bad part of town.  I didn’t want to heal him…I just wanted him out of my apartment.  I gave him everything I had in my wallet, and didn’t turn it into an intervention or say “Don’t come back here anymore.”  I hoped my firm body language and desire to get him to leave came across in my demeanor and actions.  I don’t know what happened to him that night or any other nights.  I moved from that apartment shortly thereafter and I sometimes wonder if he ever strolled back to my old place and knocked on the door looking for money again.  I think about him sometimes and I feel more anger for that night than I do for all the times I enabled him and myself when we used to use together.

I realize now that I am an enabler; an aspect that has carried on from my drug addiction to my new, sober life.  I don’t feel guilty for not helping him with more than money that night; that’s not my job or prerogative with my healing process and healthy lifestyle, but I do think I did him a disservice by giving him the money.  I’d like to imagine he’s in a better place in his life now and I did the right thing by giving him the money.  One thing I am certain of is that I have learned a valuable piece of information about myself that night and got to see how I have changed.   I no longer feel the need to pay for my friendships and use them as a means of escape.  Today I make things about me and embrace the journey of recovery that I am on.


By Chase A.


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Filed under: Life, Recovery · Tags: Addiction, enabling, friendship, money, sober, sober life, using buddy

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