I visited Jim one day. He was a known user.
“Someone’s following me.” Jim said as I walked in the front door. He closed the door behind me and peeked through the window blinds. I’ve never seen him look so scared. Disturbed. Like he hasn’t slept for days. Dark spots have already formed under his eyes. His hair is a mess, and his clothes look like he hasn’t changed them in weeks.
Needless to say, he looks like shit. Smells like one too.
“Dude, what’s going on?” I asked him, assessing the room some more. It’s dark. Just the television turned on with low volume, half bottle of whiskey, blinds closed, an obviously recently used pipe, and ashtray full of cigarette butts. “Of course.” I muttered under my breath.
I can tell Jim’s having a bad trip. But something is different. He’s never mentioned someone following him before. He sounded more worried than ever. No, not worried. He sounded terribly scared and sad.
“Someone’s following me, man. When I come home from work, someone’s watching me. I look out the window from upstairs and I see someone from across the street looking back at me.”
“You’re not making any sense. Are you sure it’s not just your imagination?” Jim is pacing around the small room with his head down and appeared to be deep in thought. He peeked through the window blinds then back to pacing again, then back to the blinds. He’s doing this as I’m studying him. It almost felt like he forgot that I’m here.
“I told you to stop using.” I continued, breaking his ritual. He stopped mid pace. Head still down. “This shit WILL affect
your brain. Don’t let it get to that point. Look at yourself. You have to get your act together. I know you have the right head to get yourself out of this hole you have dug yourself. So use it while you can still make your own decisions. Use it while it’s still your head.” I told him with what I think is my authoritative voice. Hoping he’ll realize that what I’m saying is out of love and worry that such potential of a human being could incredibly waste unforeseen opportunities that is yet to come.
Then, as I said those words, he stopped his pacing and looked up at me dead straight in the eye. The kind of look a person gives you that shows a deeper cry of help. A cry of help that can’t just be said out loud because of utter embarrassment and self-pity.
With tears in his eyes he whispered, “I think it’s too late…”
He starteded sobbing. He dropped to the floor and covered his face with his hands. “I want to stop.” I hear him whisper over and over in between sobs.
He sobbed like a child that hit his forehead and got a bump on it for the first time. He sobbed like a teenager madly in love getting his heart broken for the first time. He sobbed like a son who just lost either or both of his parents. He sobbed like a mother losing her child. He also sobbed like a man, finally breaking free from years in chains. Chains that were limiting him from creating his own happy and successful path.
I stared at him, dumbfounded. I don’t know what to do nor do I know what to say. This never happened before.
There’s this adult person, known to many as a tough guy with his arms covered in tattoos on the middle of the floor— crying his heart out.
It was also the first time I heard him say “I want to stop”. For years I heard him say “I’m going to try to stop” or “I’m not touching that again” after every bad trip. But this is the first time he ever said, “I WANT to stop” with such conviction, you just have to believe his words.
I helped Jim to the couch. He lost a significant amount of weight since the last time I saw him about three months ago. He stopped crying now but still sniffling. I cleaned the room up a bit and opened the windows to let some fresh air breeze in.
I threw away his pipe and all paraphernalia that I can find. I asked him if he has anymore he’s hiding somewhere. He gave me his last bag and promised that it was all he had. I disposed of them too.
I stayed with him and he finally opened up to me. He said he started hearing voices and whispers about a week ago.
Sometimes it’s a whisper, and sometimes it’s clear and loud like the voice is right behind his ear. He would look outside and see no one, but would still feel like he was being watched. I asked what was being whispered, he said, “Nothing. Just a voice calling out my name sharply, but no one or nothing is ever there.”
The things he used to enjoy, he didn’t enjoy anymore. No interest in anything whatsoever and he was only trying to mask this feeling of uselessness by getting high. It got to the point that he was tolerating the substance too much that it had no effect anymore. This led him to use more than usual, carrying the false belief that this will solve his problems.
The thing is, when you use, even if you don’t feel the expected effect of being high, the negative effect, or the damage to the body, will still be present.
Luckily, the human brain is amazing. If it was programmed to believe a false belief that external substances can bring joy and happiness to a person’s life, then it can be REPROGRAMMED to learn that this idea is indeed false and not real. What is real is that a person, any person, has the ability, the power, to find happiness from within without requiring external sources.
“It’s not too late, Jim.” I said encouragingly. “You still have time but you have to do it and commit. I mean really commit and dedicate yourself to changing your life for the better. Get. Serious. Let’s go tomorrow to the rehab place. Let’s explore our options for a program best fit for you.” I said.
“I’m serious, Bob. I really want to stop. That was the scariest, most terrifying thing I’ve experienced in my life. I know I don’t want to experience that again.” Jim said.
“Okay. Good. You know I don’t believe you until I actually see results. You only get two things in life, reasons and results. Reasons—-”
“—Don’t matter. I know, I know. Can’t believe you still say that. You probably say that at least 500 times a day.” Jim cut me off while saying one of my favorite quotes. He managed a weak smile at me.
“Reasons don’t matter. That’s right” I finished smiling at my friend. “Don’t give me reasons on why you won’t be able to commit to your decision to stop, but do show me results in your progress that you did stop. I have faith in you, brother. You already know you can do this.”
Sometimes, a drastic event has to happen first before we change our ways, our activities and bad habits, challenging beliefs that we so long protected and fought for.
We all know a few Jims. We all know someone, or a few, going through addiction. Sometimes it’s a close friend or relative. They all have stories like Jim’s, and a lot of times, in worse situations.
Also sometimes, we can only but just shine the light through the tunnel, and hopefully our lost loved one can find their way towards the light you have shined upon them.