Second Hand Addiction – Exactly What Do You Mean?


Today I went to pick up my three children from their father’s house. It was Super Bowl Sunday, 10 minutes before the game, and I was picking up my children early because Dave, a chronic last-stage alcoholic- was drunk again.

Their dad was not in his right mind and not happy at the early termination of his super bowl party. He called me several swear words in his loudest voice, screamed at me to get out of his house, and hovered over me, threatening to hit me. Clearly I am a secondhand addict- an innocent person drastically affected by someone else’s addiction.

Dave’s mother was there, a quiet refined woman of class. Soon she found herself pleading with her 44 year old son to let her grandson go and to stop calling her former daughter-in-law filthy names. Clearly this peaceful soul is a secondhand addict- an innocent person drastically affected by someone else’s addiction.

My children were there- ages 14, 12, and 10. They heard the threats and verbal assaults. My middle boy was being held forcibly on his dad’s lap. How would this and other such events imprint on their growing brains? How would it affect their lives as adults? How would the constant onslaught of such negative role modeling affect their parenting? Then too,how would this parenting affect their children someday? Clearly these three, and all of their children to come, are secondhand addicts- Innocent people drastically affected by someone else’s addiction.

As I left the house I called my former brother-in-law. I was afraid that when I left Dave would turn his uncontrollable rage on his 80 year old mother. Now my brother and sister-in-law were missing the super bowl to take care of their mother. They are disliking their brother a lot these days. You can’t blame them but it eats away at the soul. Clearly they and their brothers and sisters are all secondhand addicts- innocent people drastically affected by someone else’s drinking.

Dave has no job these days, having lost his when he could no longer function to do his work. So we can now add his abandoned boss to the list of secondhand addicts- not as drastically affected, but affected none-the-less.

Now we can move away from Dave and multiply all of these 20 or so people by the millions of addicted people in the world to account for all of their relatives, employers, and close friends.

Can we begin to get a feel for how many second hand addicts there are in the world?

But wait, our list is not through yet. We now need to add all of the people who have died at the hands of a drunk driver. And we need to add in all of their bereaved families and friends. So the list gets longer. And we need to add all of the people who have ever gotten mugged, physically assaulted, or even murdered by someone who was high or who needed money to get high. And we need to add in the family and friends who sat outside of the Intensive Care Unit as they waited to see if their assaulted loved ones would make it. They are second hand addicts- people drastically affected by someone else’s addiction.

And they don’t even know it.

And the list gets longer.

But our list is still not even through yet. Many of our addicted citizens find their way to homelessness at some point. So we need to add to our list of secondhand addicts all of the people who work at the disheartening task of helping them. And while we are at it we need to add the people who work at the hopeless task of trying to find work for addicted people- only to see their efforts fail again and again. They are all gravely affected by another person’s addiction.

And we need to add the people who pay for all of these services, as well as those who pay for the jails stuffed full of addicted people. We need to add you the taxpayer to our list. For you are a secondhand addict, and you don’t even know it.

This blog is designed to help those whose lives are drastically affected by someone else’s addiction. And it is designed to send the message to each of us that we are all hugely affected by the addicted people who live among us, whether we know it or not.

And I am not sure exactly what we will do once we realize this. The answer is certainly not to shame and blame addicted people- which will only worsen the problem.

But I do know this…

In order to change something, you must first see it.

So I am here, along with my blog entries, to help you to see the problem.

So I invite you to read on.


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