Two of my patients who've been clean for many months are now using crack again. In times of stress, many of us turn to food, TV, slothfulness, and other addictions. In some lives, the lure of a cheap and fleeting high is too much to bear.
Last Friday, I called a patient that I haven't seen for a while and told her she'd been on my mind and I wanted to pay her a visit. She said that she'd been thinking of me at the moment that her phone rang and was not surprised to hear my voice. An hour later, I was at her apartment. After the usual pleasantries and inquiries about her health, I could tell that she had something to say but was having trouble forming the words. Due to her hesitancy and the way she looked at the floor and avoided my eyes, I knew that she had "picked up" again. I moved from the couch across the room, sat down next to her on the other couch, and put my arm around her shoulders. "Digame", I said. "Tell me". She admitted to using crack and I quickly assuaged her fear of judgement and reassured her that these things happen and we would work with her to find a way through to the other side. Her shame was a palpable presence in the room.
After giving her a flu shot and several hugs and words of encrouagement, I took my leave and moved on to other people, other places. Today I received a call that her heat wasn't working but she reassured me quickly that her bill was paid in full and it was just the fault of the landlord, not her drug use. But it's a sign that things are not as they should be. Again.
Addiction coils around the reptilian brain like a slithering blight, blocking out the light of reason. Ah, the failings and treachery of the human heart and mind.