Name: Isabel Cuevas
From: Phoenix, Arizona
Addiction Effects Everyone
My name is Isabel Cuevas. I am a single mother to a beautiful 4 year old named Andres. I wanted to do detailed research for this essay but felt it is much more relatable if I give my sons and my story about the effects of addiction. There is no doubt that our nation is dealing with an addiction crisis. In 2018, there was data showing 128 people died everyday due to an opiod overdose.
“About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids (Opioid Overdose Crisis 2020).”
Andres’ father, Marcus, and I met July 25, 2015 while I was waitressing at a buffet. I remember it so vividly. I was close to turning 22 and I had never had a boyfriend before. He was just starting a new job and trying to get his life back on track after having his son taken away from him and experiencing a rollercoaster ride meeting his biological father after being adopted 18 years prior. We connected right away and spent every free minute together. He became my best friend. I got pregnant 3 months after we started dating. I remember reading that people can only keep their lies and fake personality for around 3 months then they start showing their true self. A week before I found out I was pregnant, Marcus punched me square in the left eye. I was so shocked and numb. I got up and drove home. I did not cry or scream. I had completely fallen head over heels with this man who was holding in so much hurt and anger that I did not leave him. I was told numerous times by his adopted father that he needed help. He was a danger to me and to himself. He had never dealt with the murder of his mother or his son being taken away. He never accepted any wrongdoing he did. He looked for comfort in women who were willing to take care of him and his emotional needs. His father thinks this is because of the death of his biological mother at age 3.
Fast forward to my son being born August 3rd of 2016, the happiest day of my life. I became filled with a purpose. Marcus loves his son but the responsibility of having to take care of a child who was actually present in his life stressed him out completely. He became increasingly abusive and I made excuses for him. I started working as a waitress again and he took some time off to bond with our son and take a mental break from sales. I came home from work one day and opened the door and was so stunned by what I saw, I just walked straight to my room and closed the door. I took my son from his crib and laid with him in darkness. I walked in to Marcus and his friends in the living room, beer cans around them and music playing. My first sight was Marcus wiping white powder off of our table, the place we had our family meals. He made excuses that he was tired from watching our son and needed energy.
He would not do it again. He was sorry. I believed him because I loved him. I had no idea it would get worse. He had such debilitating anxiety that he refused to get treatment so he self medicated with Xanax. This was the next best feeling for him after Coke. He needed it to stay calm and not have any anxiety attacks. He said it helped him. I believed him again. He began to stay out all night and morning. He said he needed some alone time with his friends after I got off work. I believed him. I found out he was handing our son off to his grandpa as soon as he dropped me off work. He was aware of what was happening and he started letting it consume him. All of the tips I made went to the “car repairs” so we never had extra money. Then one month, we couldn’t afford our rent. I made almost triple of what our rent was, yet we had no money to pay.
I was told he was on “something,” which as many know that is the nice way of saying “girl, your man is addicted to some hard drug but I don’t want to be blunt about it.” We lost our apartment, our car note was not paid. He became even more abusive. He would find me rides home and had red eyes. He would not eat or sleep because he was having such bad “anxiety attacks”, according to him. I believed him because I loved him. I loved him so much that the physical and emotional abuse was not as important or alarming as making him feel better.
It took me 6 months to finally say it out loud. Marcus was an addict. He was addicted to heroin and meth. He let it consume him, every minute of the day he wanted to feel better. The weight loss, no sleep, me begging him to stop and get help, none of it mattered. For him, the small amount of relief and euphoric feeling was better than feeling hurt and sad. The little bit of control he had sticking a needle in his arm was better than not having control of his emotions. Marcus and I lost a second son, he was in a different city asking me for money while I was in the hospital holding our son who passed away an hour before. Andres and me leaving him was not enough for him to get help.
I thought moving to Oregon where he knew no one but me would help him. He ended up relapsing a week later after meeting someone at work who happened to be addicted to meth as well. I was beaten and choked and accused of cheating. I was accused of being an informant. I was so tired of the ups and downs and needed to take care of my son, so I finally called the cops. We broke up for good. He went on to be in and out of jail. He had a daughter with a woman who was also a recovering addict. He relapsed a month after his daughter was born, and on our son’s 4th birthday. This was the first birthday he spent with our son. I let him stay with us for a few days before going back to ORegon. While out picking up presents, he relapsed. I came home and confronted him. Again, just like old times, he beat me badly. I called the cops once I was able to get free. I got a restraining order and now he is stuck in Arizona for 3 years to complete his probation. He does not have his son in his life nor his daughter.
This is a very shortened version of the events that took place in the last 3.5 years of Marcus addiction. I could write a series on the days and nights I cradled him while he brought up every negative thing he thought of himself while coming down from a weekend binge. Or when he started craving and crying to me to get him some meth one last time and he swears to god he will quit. Or hyping him up when he says he is done for real this time. Or when he needs a reset button and comes live with us again to get a job and have a bed to sleep but one night out causes a relapse. There is no doubt that I loved that man with all my heart and soul. I wanted the best for him and wanted him to reach his potential, even with the abuse, my love was so strong for him I thought if I loved him a little harder, it would be enough for him to stop everything. Stop the drugs, stop the abuse, stop the repeated cycle.
I wanted to answer the questions using my story. I believe our nation is dealing with an addiction crisis because many people have so much pain and ache in them that it manifests and people are trying to find a way to feel numb to the pain. Besides losing yourself, your appearance, health, the consequences for many, Marcus included, is losing their family and friends and support system when we feel like our attempts at helping them are not being taken advantage of or when we feel like our lives are starting to fall apart with them. Addiction affects society as well because there is a lot of theft and crimes from people who are trying to gather funds to score some more drugs. The biggest consequence is death. Many young people are dying from addiction. I feel like proper and affordable therapy should be provided when people begin to get into trouble because of their addiction. Many people are struggling with inner demons and need to properly talk and come up with healthy coping mechanisms. Not only therapy but affordable sober living homes would help these men and women succeed. I volunteer at a sober living home weekly and the stress of money and not having a job causes triggers for many recovering addicts. The men at this sober living home have said they felt triggered thinking of transitioning to weekly pay sober living homes especially when they are trying to get their bodies back to the most regular they can and trying to start work at the same time.
I do not believe recovering addicts are horrible people. I believe they are hurt and in pain and use hard drugs to self medicate themselves. It is a rough world and there are so many people suffering in silence. Everyone deserves a second chance at life. Everyone needs help. I believe Marcus deserves a chance at living a sober life and being in his kids life. The biggest thing I have learned so far from volunteering is that being harsh to a person who is trying to be sober and made mistakes while high, does more damage then giving them more drugs. These men want to get their life back and be independent again. They know the mistakes they have made but want to redeem themselves.
I wanted to circle back to the title of my essay. I recently learned about “al-anon” while observing a group session at the sober house. Even though this was a sober living home for someone with any addiction, they read the Alcoholics Anonymous big book and no matter what addiction, the member is able to use it for their own addiction recovery. I was so shocked and scared when they were going over Step 8 in the 12 steps. The way the person running the group was describing it and relating examples to the men, I was stunned that it applied to me as well. I asked the speaker why I relate to it if I was not an addict. She said “alateen-anon, look into it and you will be surprised that you were impacted more by his addiction than you thought.” I went home and did a google search and saw that there is a group for friends and family of an addict who are often “traumatized” for a lack of better words, by this addiction. It helps the friends and family focus on themselves rather than the addiction they were around. The title of this essay fit my son and me so well. We were affected by this addiction. My son does not have a father at the moment because the addiction has him. I do not have a co parent to help with childcare, bills, necessities, emotional support; the addiction has him.
Opioid Overdose Crisis. (2020, May 27). Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis