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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Addiction bends good friends

Kevin Crittenden

There’s nothing worse than watching, in slow motion, the wasting away of a close friend.

People tend to choose company whose values closely match their own, but when a friend succumbs to the throes of addiction, it’s time to cut ties.

Within the first several weeks of moving here, I had met most of the people who would become my closest allies.

Through the years, I’ve watched good people sicken as casual habits grow into full-blown chemical dependencies. This was the case with my friend Louis. Change like this is painful to witness.

For a long time I didn’t want to acknowledge just how bad things had become. Besides, I’ve had my share of vices in Chico where legal and illegal drugs allow addiction to hide in plain sight.

Abraham Lincoln said, “A man who has no vices has damned few virtues.” While this may be true, there’s a point where vice becomes a prison of suffering and self-torture.

Let me be clear— this is not to label to condemn addicts. It’s more about protecting myself.

When I look at someone like Louis I don’t see just an addict; I see the whole depth of who he used to be. Somewhere in that writhing shadow there’s a fully conscious man, somebody whose company I look forward to enjoying in the years to come.

What I didn’t realize was that by choosing to ignore the harm Louis was doing to himself, I was becoming part of the problem.

Since I knew him before his heavy drug use, I know who he can be. But at present he’s not capable of being a good friend. It feels futile to reach out to someone who can’t clearly communicate honestly with themselves.

Painful as it may be, the best thing to do for an addict is to let them go. Ultimately the decision to recover is a leap of faith that must be made alone.

I believe in success stories. I believe in resilience. I believe that a good person can walk a bad path and reclaim control over their life.

Kevin Crittenden can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @kevlodius.

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