Bailey: We should support the addicts who want to get better

Fynn Bailey

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

The best people I know are recovering drug addicts. 

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Two of my closest friends, several of my best and brightest peers and one of my favorite teachers battled demons — and won. One of the main reasons they won their fights is because they had people to back them up.  

Drug use is a big moral quandary within society. It invokes lots of questions and gives few answers. These days, there’s a lot of blame going around but not much talk about the people themselves as anything other than a problem.

Over 19 million Americans struggle with substance abuse of some kind. So, the odds of having a friend or family member who is addicted to alcohol or something more illegal are pretty high. I think that you should keep those people in your life, until you can’t. 

I recently spoke to my friend Sampson Bayer. Bayer used to be a heavy drug user and tried many of the drugs that are available. He also, at one point in his life, could have been considered a sort of drug dealer.

We talked about his life, his patterns of drug abuse over the years and his journey to come to where he is now — which is drug free and successful.

However, Bayer’s journey was not always so smooth. There were times where he felt he had completely lost his way and even times that he was homeless and without people to rely on. His parents died when he was young: his father from an overdose on opioids. So, I asked Bayer from his perspective, “Do you keep people who continue using in your life?”

He told me that he looks at where he wants to be in life and where he’s headed and asks, “Does this person resonate?” 

A couple years ago, Bayer had to make a choice similar to the one we’re talking about now on whether or not to keep someone who was using in his life.

Bayer and a close friend went on a spiritual journey, which helped him get away from drug use. This friend was still regularly smoking meth. 

“Our dynamic of friendship was changing,” Bayer said. “He was high more, and the people around him started to change. It didn’t feel right.”

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It was close to when Bayer decided to work at a summer camp, and he had “decided to let go of some relationships.” He wanted himself to be up to a certain standard in order to feel comfortable working with children. His father was a teacher leading up to his death, and Bayer didn’t want that sort of cycle to continue.

“It was really weird throughout the summer,” Bayer said. “I missed him. He was a really good friend. Later on, I found out he’d been in jail all summer, that he’d got caught shoplifting and some other charges and spent the summer in jail.”

It would be hard to find a better metaphor for the split of two paths than that. Bayer talked a lot about his friend and how hard it was to make the decision that they weren’t headed in the same direction in life.

But he also told me about many of his friends who were there for him throughout all of his drug abuse — people who stood by his side and gave him guidance at times when he needed it.

I think that, like Bayer’s friends, it can really help these people in need to have friends who are there for them — friends who can help lead them to making better choices.

Sometimes, though, we have to be like Bayer and let people go if they clearly don’t want to get better. I personally have many people in my life who previously used a lot who changed, and there were a few who never wanted help that I haven’t seen in several years.

Just try to be empathetic and give these people a chance. After all, addiction is a sickness that is never cured. If they can come out on the other side of their struggle, you’ll be happy you were there.

If you are someone or know someone who is struggling with addiction and is looking for help, these are some links to facilities and groups that operate in Colorado that can help.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Rehab Centers CO

Narcotics Anonymous

Fynn Bailey can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter at @FynnBailey.