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When It Comes To Substance Abuse, Sometimes Love Is All You Have Left To Give

Updated on January 27, 2011

When nothing else can be given because of substance abuse, you can still offer your love

Be positive, and give your love to your friend suffering from substance abuse
Be positive, and give your love to your friend suffering from substance abuse

Give love to those suffering from substance abuse

A friend of mine, that I love and care about dearly, recently completed a rehabilitation program for his substance abuse. He was moderately successful at acknowledging his problems with drugs and alcohol and after thirty days of therapy, has recently hopped a plane down south to further his drug and alcohol rehab.

When I saw him the night before he left he was visibly sad and looked maybe even a little angry. When I asked, "How are you doing?"

He responded with, "I'm OK, I'm sorry if I don't look so good, I've got a lot going through my mind right now."

The flight down south would be his first time on a plane, and he would be going there to start a whole new routine of working and living. This would bear anyone down with stress and anxiety, couple that with a month of withdrawal from the usual trappings of substances used and you have one anguished individual.

After years of talks between my friend and I, between my friend and the other members of our group, we have all tried giving him our two cents, or bits of advice. None of it worked, my friend's symptoms of abuse only got worse. He had physical fights, run-ins with the law and various other failures in his career and academics that were unaffected by our best intentions.

Some of my friends, along with a new friend he  had recently made who went through a similar time in his life, convinced him to get real help. He did and we are all praying for him now. I am so thankful to the friends and family that had more of the means to get him the help he needed.

On the night before he left I was so afraid to say something stupid. My wife told me to just keep it positive which I figured was great advice. I wanted to say, this is your reckoning! This is your bid for a second chance at life! And, you get to get out of this freezing winter we endure and head down south you lucky dog! But of course I chose not to say these bold, philosophical and maybe a bit envious, things to my brother. Better to let him be.

All I said was, "This is a really positive thing happening. I'm really happy for you. I love you."

To which he responded, "I know it is, it is positive. I love you too Ben."

That was enough. I pined all night wondering if I should have said more, but I realize after sleeping on it, that was enough. He's a big boy. He needs to own this decision. No one can share what he's gone through exactly or what he's going through. But I wanted him to know I loved him and that was enough.


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    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks cheaptrick for the song association, it's very poignant and true. We're all rooting for him, I hope he makes it to.

    • cheaptrick profile image


      8 years ago from the bridge of sighs

      Hi Ben.You know that this is close to my heart.

      Here's a snip from a song"Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind".

      That's the only way to get an addicts attention.

      Have faith that It gets better after the initial slap...

      That work takes compassion and burns you out if your not careful'

      I hope he makes it...


    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thank you for your prayers and blessing SusanAdele, it feels good to know that my observations went noticed and that they got through to you. I know exactly what you mean about the lectures and should do's, but can only guess how much more difficult it might be for a parent. My brother, by the way, is right around the same age as your daughter, and I recall that being one of the toughest times in my life too.

      So we keep our chin's up and hope our loved ones do the same! If love prevails, our loved ones will come out smelling like roses.

    • SusanAdele profile image


      8 years ago

      Your post touched me deeply, Ben. My daughter, age 30, is now going through a rehab facility for alcohol abuse. I struggle also with what to say to her. Over the years I have dispensed my share of lectures, you should this, you should that, all to no avail. But what you said says it all. That is what they need to hear at this time. To know that they are still loved, when they are feeling very unlovable. God will take care of the rest. I will keep your brother in my prayers. Bless you Ben.

    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks prettydarkhorse. My brother is a really strong guy, so strong that I think that is what kept him from getting help. But now that help is on the way, I read on his Facebook that he swam in the Atlantic ocean last night, maybe this is a good baptism for him!

      Thanks for the warm comment PDH!

    • prettydarkhorse profile image


      8 years ago from US

      oh this is touching, I am always touched by the love to siblings, and addiction is really bad, but at least the effort to change is there and the love from family members too is always refreshing, nice share Ben,


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