Content Warning: Substance Abuse/Addiction, Rehabilitation, Armed Robbery
“Why are you smoking? Dad?”
“Because I have problems.”
That was my dad’s response when I asked him why he smoked. I was 11 years old, and I knew that smoking wouldn’t make your problems miraculously go away. Smoking wasn’t good for you all together.
When I was younger, I saw on TV and in real life the impact of smoking and recreational drugs. One of the common beliefs about drugs is that they can give you a sense of euphoria. Yes, this is true, but many healthy activities and hobbies can give you a sense of euphoria and keep you alive. Recreational drugs provide a temporary relief. You have to take a higher dose every time to feel that high. These drugs can permanently damage your life and potentially damage your relationships.
Recreational drugs leave disasters in their wake. It causes more problems than it fixes. That’s one of the reasons why I never felt pressured or attracted to drugs. I was relieved when my dad decided to stop smoking, but I also had two uncles who smoked for a long time. While studying psychology, I learned why it was hard for them to stop, and that you can’t force them to quit unless they make that choice for themselves. There is only so much you can do as family members. I learned this through my experience with one of my uncles. I will call him Uncle T, for privacy purposes. He lived in Canada for about 10 years. My mom, brother, and I didn’t have a chance to see him until last summer. When I saw him, I was shocked.
As much as I hate to say this, he was almost a shell of a man. The fun-loving Uncle T that took us to Disney World, bought us ice cream, and took us to the movies, was gone. My Uncle T faced several challenges, including being a victim of an armed robbery. According to my cousin, he was introduced to drugs by a couple of co-workers a few years back. It all went downhill from there. It hurts that I only found out about it now, but it was worse when I witnessed it. He was out on the street for two days and took my aunt’s phone with him, leaving us all worried.
When he returned, I saw my cousin crying, which nearly caused all of us to cry. It was almost as if it was shocking for him to see us worried about him. We also staged an intervention for him and took him to church, where he confessed to having a drug problem. He promised that he would try to get better or go to rehab. However, the healthcare system in Canada is extremely complicated. There are many hoops to jump through, which I think is unfair.
As soon as we left, he started again. It made me realize how much I wished I had known sooner or knew what I could have done differently, but I was in college when it started. I was still trying to figure it out and couldn’t oversee someone else’s life. We were too late. He is so far down the rabbit hole, and that is the only way out; it is all up to him.