Living with an addict
How not to celebrate Memorial Day
Memorial Day 2010. My neighbors are grilling steaks or fishing at the lake or lots of other activities that say "Welcome Summer". I'm talking with a policeman about how many pills my husband took over the last three days and how his addiction has ruined our lives. My husband has had an addiciton, a love affair, with pain medications off and on for over 20 years. I've been married to him for five years. When we met, he was sober. That didn't last long. Most of our marriage, he has been addicted to one thing or another. And all of this garbage has seemed more important than me. As addicts do, he would spend all our money on drugs, leaving us broke. Many times, I'd get in the car in the morning to go to work, only to discover that he'd run out all the gas chasing his pills. He'd drive to any hospital he thought he could get something out of. Most of these mornings, I would have to call into work, since I had no money left until payday more than a few days away. My addict of a husband didn't understand the concept of conserving gas and making it last until payday so I could work and pay the bills. Most employers are not understanding when I call and say I can't get there because my husband has run the car empty. And I dared not tell anyone about his problem, about our problem. I was embarassed at what people would think of me if they knew my husband was an addict. They would think surely I have no problem with what he is doing. People couldn't be further from the truth. I hate his pain pill addiction. I love my husband with all my heart. I know that he is capable of much better but I hate his desire for pills above anything.
I don't know why his latest binge happened. I'm not sure he knows either. Over about 3 or 4 days, my husband took 33 Xanax, a tranquilizer, I guess you could say. On top of that, he took nearly 40 Lortab, a pain medicine. Both of these drugs suppress the central nervous system. He made himself incompacitated. He crawled around on the living room floor, unable to stand or walk. He couldn't understand anything I said. He mumbled. He screamed incoherently. It was a nightmarish several days. I reached my point of being fed up with him. I called 911 with the intention of getting him put out of the house for good. I didn't care where he went. He just couldn't stay here anymore. An ambulance and a police car came to our apartment. The ambulance took my husband to the hospital as an overdose. I filled out the report with the police officer. I showed him the medicine bottles and together we counted how many pills my brilliant husband had downed. I asked the officer what I had to do to get my husband to never come home again. He told me to go to the magistrate for a restraining order and then to legal aid for a divorce lawyer. The next morning, I got up to do just that. But, I was at the magistrate before the office opened. I had time to think. I realized that I wasn't yet ready to give up on my husband. I decided he could have one last chance. That's what I told him when I went to his hospital room a few days after he was admitted. It was an intervention. I told my darling husband how things were going to be if he wanted to come home. NO more pills. Get sober and stay that way or we wouldn't stay married. I told him it was his choice, me or the pills and that this was his last chance. Then I left his hospital room.
My husband was in the hospital a week before being moved to a treatment center. He has made a commitment to stay clean. It's been a few months now since that wonderful Memorial Day and we both are learning to live with him being straight. It's like meeting again for the first time and getting to know each other the way we did when we were dating. I had been so angry at him for so long that I had turned into a banshee. That was the only way I could cope with what he was doing and how much it hurt. I am learning to communicate with him without screaming and without all the anger. He is learning what life, what our relationship can be without the haze of pain pills.