A very dear friend of mine had a nephew dealing with a relapse a few months back. My friend asked me to contact him (his name is Michael) to see if we could get him in for some help or at least give him some encouragement over the phone. I called him and was met with a very uncomfortable familiarity.
Michael had relapsed (in-part) because his wife had met someone and was in the process of leaving him.
"I just don't know what to do! I'll do anything to get her back"
"I miss her so much, I need to hear her voice"
"I can't live without her"
I knew exactly what he meant and how he felt, I was in the exact same situation in 2016. Laying wide awake in bed in the middle of the night wondering where your best friend could be is an awful feeling. I remember it feeling like that sharp pain in your chest when you drink too much water in one gulp. But instead of water it's gritty like sand and the feeling lingers for days.
I did my best to comfort and encourage him, but he was just too drunk and heart broken any time we talked to get through to him. I thought to myself "even if he was sober, I have no idea what to say. I have zero advice for this situation, I just remember it being 110% awful."
So I did what you're supposed to do when you don't know what to say, I listened. I listened until he ran out of things to say.
A few weeks after our last call, I got a text from my friend. Michael had passed away that morning in his sleep. I was filled with defeat and sorrow and my poor friend was beside himself, filled with grief. Tragic death is something you must teach yourself to process and deal with healthily in this industry, because it happens often. But damned if I didn't take this one quite personally.
Addiction and co-dependency go hand in hand. It's like dropping gasoline on a fire. I would have been too prideful to admit my codependency back in the day. But I talk about it openly today in hopes that it is helpful and informative for someone else.
Addicts, I encourage you to not only be mindful of your addiction and recovery. But be mindful of your circumstances and surroundings, your relationships and responsibilities and their subsequent role in your mental health. All these things can trigger an unknown feeling that can lead to your demise.
Michael and I had been sober for a long time, it didn't end up being the addiction itself that brought us down but the inability to cope with our codependency. And unfortunately, one of us didn't make it back out.
I think about my friend every day, he is why I do what I do. Him and countless others who have been unfathomably fucked by addiction.