Of all the things in the world that are priceless, addiction is not. Some pay for addiction with their own pain, trading smiles for glazed eyes and anhedonia that feeds on itself. Others pay for their addiction in a different kind of currency. It’s not coins and dollar signs either, it’s currency laced with an even more valuable backing. This currency is the support of people you love and that love you back.
Some people wear addiction like an old winter coat; draped around their shoulders with threads beginning to unravel from more than just the ends. For others, addiction is like a coffee date rescheduled once a month for several months until you and your friend both decide to call it what it is and cancel it. But that’s for those who are enduring the battle themselves – not for the ones around them.
The people who pay for another’s addiction are sometimes their friends. It’s often supportive friends that see a negative change in someone’s patterns, and they’re able to do something about it because of their close relationship. Sometimes, the people who pay for an addiction are the parents of a straight-A Sigma Chi Omega junior who, with a very promising future, quit school on what seems like a whim to trade pills instead of facts in her next debate. Other times, it is children who pay for the expense.
And it can be a steep price to pay for someone who might not even be tall enough to ride every roller coaster at a theme park. What’s worse is that you’re basically stuck on a roller coaster ride you didn’t want to be on in the first place instead. You’re along for somebody else’s ride, at someone else’s speed, at someone else’s control and you still have to pay the tax. It doesn’t seem fair.
It never will seem fair.
Addiction costs down-payments. It costs cars, the ability to get to and from your home to work to keep a roof over your head and your substance of choice in your veins, but as the child of a parent with an addiction, you know that. For the price of five years of their addiction, you and your family could have moved into a new house in a better school district. Even when it was just a prescription for Vicodin after a bad surgery, the cost of a five year long addiction to prescription painkillers can cost over $27,300.
There are a lot of things you know, but you likely don’t know this one. You might say you do, but you don’t really believe it or feel it.
Paying the price of their addiction is not your expense to take on. You do not own that responsibility. It will weigh you down before you realize it’s a burden you chose to bear. But do you see the differentiation? Your old coping mechanisms may no longer work for you, and when they begin to hinder your life, it’ll change.
You’ll erect boundaries. You’ll create the distance you need to establish a better relationship with your parent. You’ll be able to navigate waters you were previously drowning in with a little distance. Okay… Maybe a lot of distance. Choose not to continue to the unwarranted expense.
You don’t have to be on their roller coaster ride anymore.