Loving an addict will consume your every thought. Watching his physical deterioration and emotional connection to everything will make you the most exhausted insomniac alive.

If you watch the person you love disappear right in front of your eyes for long enough, you will start to become invisible, too.

Those not directly affected won’t be able to understand why you are so focused on his well-being, especially since he doesn’t seem very concerned with his own.

They do not understand, and they are lucky not to understand. You’ll catch yourself wishing you didn’t understand, either.

How would you feel if you had to wake up every day and wonder if this was the day your loved one was going to die?

Drug addiction has the largest ripple effect I have ever witnessed. Not one person is left unscathed.

These drugs cause parents to outlive their children. They cause jail time and homelessness. They cause sisters to mourn their siblings. They cause nieces to never meet their aunts. They cause daughters to grow up fatherless.

You will see your loved one walking and talking, but the truth is that you will lose him far before he actually succumbs to the demons. And if he doesn’t go into recovery, this is inevitable. There are only two ways out of addiction, and both are tragic.

Drug addiction causes families to fear a ringing phone or a knock on the door. Especially if it’s at 2 a.m. It’s terrifying.

Drug addiction causes bedrooms and social media sites to become memorials. It causes the yesterdays to outnumber the tomorrows. It causes things like the law, trust, and homes to break. It brings strong men down to their knees. It leaves you hopeless and desperate for a solution to save him, but you find out there is nothing you can do to help him. So you are left clinging to the only shred of hope you have left.

Drug addiction causes statistics to rise and knees to fall, and praying seems like the only thing left to do. You beg for the strength to make it through the days, praying for a miracle, believing that God is in control, even in the darkness.

Most people are quick to judge and point fingers at those who suffer from addiction. They call them “trash”, “junkies”, or “criminals”—which is not the truth. They may be addicts but they are still people. And behind every addict is a family desperate for his survival.

Addiction is an illness. It’s a chain that shackles your ankles. Addicts have families and at one point, hope. Addicts have family that loves them and wants them to be OK.

Drug addiction doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if the addict came from a loving home or a broken family. Drug addiction doesn’t care if you are religious, because once you fall, it will steal your faith. Drug addiction doesn’t care if you are black or white. Drug addiction will show you how one decision and one lapse of judgment can alter the course of an entire life.

Drug addiction doesn’t care about the people it hurts, the families it shatters in its path. It will steal your body, mind, and soul without a second thought.

You will learn to hate the drug but love the addict. You will find it hard to separate who the person once was with who he is now.

When you grow up, you’re taught to stay away from drugs. You’re taught why they’re bad. You’re taught to say no. But what they never teach you is the hell you’ll go through loving someone who is addicted to drugs.

You won’t know the feeling you’ll get when your heart feels like it’s being ripped in half, or the twisting in your stomach you get when you get another call from jail. They don’t tell you that you’ll probably get a second mortgage to pay for the lawyers and court fines he’d accrued.

They never teach you that even though the addict is still with you, you will start to grieve as though he is dead. They don’t explain to you there is nothing more you can do for him, that ultimatums don’t always work, and that it has to be his own choice. They don’t tell you the heartbreak you feel when you can’t save him. The guilt you feel for having to walk away.

They don’t give you lessons on how not to take the blame—how to shut your brain off so you’re not going over every little detail and wondering how your life got here with him. They don’t teach you that your entire life can change because of someone else’s life choices.

They don’t tell you that you’ll find yourself screaming for help on the inside, but you’re too afraid people will judge your loved one so you keep it to yourself to protect his identity.

They won’t tell you what it’s like to see the first overdose. They won’t tell you how scary it is to watch someone nod off and stop breathing. They won’t tell you what it’s like when you get the first phone call stating he’s unconscious.

They don’t tell you how hard the day is that you decide to finally walk away. They don’t tell you how many tears fall when you force yourself to stop enabling, even if it means he’s homeless—even if it means that’s the last time you may ever see him alive again. They don’t explain that walking away from an addict is the toughest decision you will have to make. That the guilt for leaving will bring forth night terrors. You will feel a sense of relief but also a deep sadness knowing it’s up to him now. 

You know that you have to walk away or else his demons will destroy you as well. That you will drown trying to save him.

They don’t explain that every day you love a drug addict, you risk the chance of getting that phone call. They don’t tell you that once you see that missed call, you immediately know what it’s about. But they also don’t tell you how you’ll grow as a human just by loving him. You’ll find faith and compassion you didn’t have before. You’ll never stop loving him, but you’ll know that whatever happens, you did what you could and there so much freedom in that.

They don’t teach you that even if you never try a drug in your life, drugs can still kill you.

Jessica Grillo

After suffering the loss of my sister and mother in March, I started writing about my personal journey through this lonely and brutal process . I found my voice, I found my truth , but most importantly I found healing in the words that were flowing from my soul.