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A loved one considering writing fiction about addiction. Is this a bad idea?

Discussion in 'Heroin ~ Addiction and Recovery' started by family_member, Mar 2, 2015.


Do you think this is a good idea?

  1. Yes! I think you should go for it!

    3 vote(s)
  2. Maybe you should rethink this...

    0 vote(s)
  1. family_member

    family_member Member

    I fell in love with a man more than five and a half years ago. Two years into our relationship, my world was shaken when I realized that he was addicted to heroin. I'd had no idea. The road to recovery was such a struggle, and for about two years I tried to help him and to stay strong, both for myself and for him. He tried to get clean several times, only to relapse a few months later and slip back into lies. Finally, he had a rude awakening, and I think it helped him to take his recovery much more seriously. Well... I'm extremely proud to say that he will have been clean for two years as of next month. He is thriving again, and our relationship is stronger than it has ever been.

    I have been thinking a lot about our experiences since he began his recovery, and about addiction in general. I know there is such a stigma against people who struggle with addiction. My (now) fiance is a good man, and the sweetest, most caring man I have ever known. He is bright, curious, and generous. I know he wasn't the liar or the manipulator. Heroin turns everyone into a shadow of who they once were. And more and more, I feel compelled to write about this.

    I have written fiction for a few years - mostly stories that I keep to myself. I've never before tried to write about addiction, but lately I've felt this urge to delve into the topic for a number of reasons. I've noticed that there are many stories about addiction from the perspective of an addict, but not many from the perspective of an addict's loved one. I did see one listed that involved said loved one cutting the addict out of their life, but this is really not the message I want to convey. Rather, I want to show that addiction does not discriminate, and that people who are afflicted did not ask for it. I want to show the good in people who struggle, and how the addiction changes them. I want to show that the person that they had once been is still there, somewhere, wanting to break free. I think writing from the perspective of the loved one might be a good way to show this, and would give a different sort of perspective on addiction. I say this partially because I know many people who suffer from addiction feel self-loathing, and partially because I want to show how addiction can seemingly come out of the blue to those who don't know what to look for.

    The reason I come here is because I obviously have some concerns about writing on this topic. I'm not saying I'm good enough of a writer to even get this published. I don't know. However, the absolute last thing I want to do is make him uncomfortable or expose him. I went through the addiction with him, but (though his has always been fine with me telling a few people about it for my own support) I know it is ultimately his struggle, and I don't want to make a decision that might reveal his addiction for him.

    I would not include personal information. Although a couple story points might be somewhat inspired from my own experiences, the main characters would not be me and him. They would be entirely different people with different lives. On top of that, I truly do know other close friends whose family members have dealt with serious addictions, so if people were to ask where I got my information from, I would refer to the experiences of unnamed friends. One of my closest friends has already given me the okay to allude to her when I explain my reason to write about this.

    Even so, I have not yet broached the subject with my fiance. Ultimately, I will not share the story with anyone if he isn't comfortable with it. He and his recovery is what is most important. Period. But, if he is supportive of the idea, I would like to be able to discuss my ideas with my writing group, and even to try to publish it if I manage to write something I'm happy with. I feel like a story like this could help lessen the stigma of addiction, get more conversation going, and help those who do have loved ones feel less alone. This story, and what it could represent, means a lot to me. So, I'm a little nervous about discussing what is obviously a sensitive issue with him. Sure, I worry that he will ask me not to share it (in which case I won't), but mostly I worry that it will upset him or make him uncomfortable.

    Do you think this is a bad idea? Do you think someone who has gone through with an addiction would support the idea or not? Is there anything I need to do to make sure I don't "out" my fiance or hurt his recovery?

    Please, give me your thoughts. I'm trying to do the right thing.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2015
  2. spring

    spring Administrator

    Just stopped in to let you know I will read your post tomorrow and join in on this poll, don't have the time at the moment. Also, Give it a few days for others to see this. Keep checking in...
  3. family_member

    family_member Member

    Thank you, spring. I appreciate any feedback.
  4. StuckonSubs

    StuckonSubs Well-Known Member

    I don't see the harm in writing about it, especially if you talk with your fiancé first.
    Just know that every addict & every addiction is different. While they do share some similarities, not everyone is willing to accept help. You can't force someone to get clean. Sometimes the best you can do is to make sure you do not enable them in any way, shape or form. Sometimes, making someone carry the entire weight of their addiction is the only way to get them to clean up.
    Other times, a certain addict may be willing to accept help.
    Some get lost forever to addiction. I have been lucky enough to clean my life up. A few of my very good friends have also been able to do the same, although each one took MUCH different paths to get there. Some it took many times in jail. Others did it with NA/AA, and others did it on their own or with help from their family/friends. Then there are those close friends of mine who will never clean up, no matter how much their family tries to force them to. Their addiction comes before all else and they are unwilling to do anything to help themselves, no matter how much help is offered or how many threats their family make. An addict had to be willing to accept help and they also have to be willing to help themselves. Not every addict is willing to do that.
    I myself never realized what I had truly put my family through until after I had cleaned up for a while and could think rationally again. While I was still in active addiction, I either did not realize or I just did not care...

    I guess my my only point is that not everyone is still that person they used to be and not everyone wants to break free from their addiction either. Some seem perfectly content to get high until the day they die... (And for certain families of those addicted, the only way they can go on living their lives is to cut the addict out of their lives (and almost mourn them)).
    That, and everyone's path to sobriety is different. There is no one size fits all way to get clean.

    So, I guess what I am saying is, as long as your write this as a story and not some "follow my method if you want your loved one to get clean", I don't see how any harm could come from it.
  5. family_member

    family_member Member

    Thank you so much for your feedback. That makes a lot of sense to me, and has given me a lot to think about. I have seen many differences in experience, as well. Some of the people my fiance knew that also got involved simply have not been able to maintain sobriety, whether due to differences in resources and life history or just how strong of a hold the drug had on them. I will have to think about how to make it clear that there is no one solution and that there is a lot of variation. I think adding any disclaimer would not work and people wouldn't pay much attention to that, so I would have to incorporate and show it in the actual story by adding another character with different experiences.
  6. spring

    spring Administrator

    I'm not sure what you're asking, but I say that any success story is a good one! For a struggling person to read your story would only serve to give them more hope, something they can't get enough of. And the loved ones of an addict need all the positive outcomes they can hear about.

    As far as the stigma...yes, it's too bad. There are addicts from all walks of life. There are the good people and the bad people, but unfortunately, the world looks at all addicts as low-moral, inferior, defective human beings so to write a story from the perspective of a non-addict looking in can only help.

    Addiction most times changes a person causing us to do things we wouldn't normally do. Much of that has to do with having to jump through hoops to keep up the supply and the money for that supply coming in, and it does tend to make us selfish, self-centered, unfeeling people as well, so yes it brings out the worst in us, but remove the drug and all that goes away unless the person had a bad character to begin with.

    A lot of addicts start to think that they are bad people because they are addicted to a drug and because that's how the world looks at them. It gets easier to move ahead towards recovery once they realize they are not bad people needing to become good people, but instead sick people needing to get well ...On the other hand it's hard to show compassion for fear of being taking advantage of because addicts can be so manipulative so I can see how and why this stigma exists.

    As I said, unfortunately the general consensus is that the person was of low moral character to begin with which simply isn't the truth so I say help spread the truth sister!
  7. family_member

    family_member Member

    Thank you! I'm glad to see that people are supportive of the idea! I agree with you whole-heartedly, spring. I know I can't fully understand how terrible addiction can be, but I feel like I understand it as well as someone who hasn't personally faced the same struggles can. My fiance is as caring and thoughtful of a man as you can find, but heroin definitely made a different person out of him. I would love to help other people understand that addiction, rather than the individual, is the problem.

    I suppose what I'm asking, mainly, is if this could be problematic for my fiance for personal reasons. I know he definitely dislikes the stigma and wants to see change, but confidentiality is potentially an issue if I write this story. I'd rather not reveal to others that he is a big reason I'm writing this particular story, because I feel like it's not my place to reveal it (though, of course, if he chooses to that is another matter entirely). I expect that if I tell people that I'm writing about addiction, especially from the perspective of, say, a spouse (which is what I intend to do because I think it is the best way to really see everything intimately and to see all the changes that take place), people might wonder if the story is supposed to essentially be his and my story. If all goes well and the story is read by many people, I don't want everyone to automatically think that my fiance is a (recovering) addict. This is why I figure I'll explain that one of my (unnamed) closest friend's mother dealt with addiction for years--which is true--and that I saw how hard it was for my friend. But... is it good enough of a cover story?

    Hypothetically, if you were to have a significant other/spouse decide they want to write a book about addiction from the perspective of a loved one, would you worry that it would draw attention to you (even if they come up with another explanation for why they are writing it)? Would that make you uncomfortable?
  8. spring

    spring Administrator

    For me personally, it wouldn't bother me at all. For someone to write about my life as an addict, from their own perspective, would actually relieve me because my addiction history is so well known among family, friends, and a small portion of the community. It would be nice to have the type of person I really am finally explained and clarified..a comparison of the type of person I was while addicted to the person I truly am.
    It still bothers me that some people from my past only crossed paths with me briefly during my dark days and never saw the real me. Just my opinion though.

    I have had similar dilemmas. I have been working on a book for several years now and keep getting stuck between trashing it or moving on with it. I even have a name for the book and some ideas for the cover and the preface, but as for the general content, I keep hitting roadblocks mainly about saying too much about the other people in my life. I mean, there are so many and do they really want such things opened up to the world? ie; childhood abuse issues, illegal ventures to name a couple of those roadblocks. I mean, how do you tell a true story without telling all of it?
    So, even though I have been wanting to show the world the human side of this insane disease...how do you do it without hurting other people?

    I wasn't a very anonymous type person because of legal troubles, problems on the job, rehabs, more legal trouble, more rehabs, etc, but for someone who managed to keep their addiction away from the outside world, well, maybe he wouldn't like his secret struggles unveiled.

    If he has a problem with you writing his story then maybe you should go with plan B. It sounds feasible that you're writing a book about your friend and her spouse. I think you could get away with it. And as they say "if you never admit it, they will never truly know the truth." So let others speculate as much as they want. Have you presented either option to your sig other yet?
  9. spring

    spring Administrator

    Another thought...Have you considered writing it as fiction? Say..writing from a third person point of view? a story about two people; the addict, and his spouse who saw the whole thing unfold, and how they each dealt with it?
    After seeing how well it goes over then you could always unveil it as a true story (somehow, not sure how that would work).

    Just brainstorming here..
  10. family_member

    family_member Member

    Okay, that is good to hear your perspective on that. Actually, what you suggested (writing it as a work of fiction) is pretty much what I've been considering doing. It has mostly been my plan to write it as only inspired by our experiences and try not to make the characters too much like myself and my fiance, just in case. For now, I want to have the option of denying that it had anything to do with my own life. However... I have considered that a book like this might be regarded as more credible and powerful if it w known that I have experienced this, as well. So I don't know. I figure that is something I will have to discuss with my fiance. I haven't even told him that I want to write about addiction yet (he is about to move to my current city, and I'd rather talk to him about it in person). He only knows I've been having trouble lately coming up with a premise that I can feel passionate about, until now of course. Having now gotten to talk to people in the addiction community, though, I think I'm going to talk to him about writing it and let him read it as I go so he can decide how he feels about it. If I happen to end up with something worth trying to put out in the world, then I'll talk to him about whether he wants us to keep our anonymity or if he would like for me to reveal I was inspired by personal experiences. I would be all for doing this, personally, but I do feel like it should be his decision in the end. Although I believe many of the people from his hometown know about his addiction, we have been transitioning to another state. He has told a few people here that he can trust, but I imagine he doesn't want everyone here to know. Or at least, not yet.

    I think that it is great that you are working on writing something! I think there is a lot that you can explain that I would never be able to capture or put into words, and I definitely think there should be more out there to help people understand the reality. I see your problem, though. That is a pretty tricky situation, I don't know that you could do a true story like that justice without risking hurting people. It might not be possible to write it as non-fiction without hurting someone... Depending on who these people were, would it be sufficient to change the names, or would people still know exactly who you were talking about? If not, have you considered writing it as fiction instead? I know that might not be as powerful, but it could be a good intermediate if you are concerned about putting the full truth out there. You could use many of the same stories and details but in different contexts. For example, if you experienced the abuse you mentioned, you could have your main character witness it in a friend/cousin/classmate who also eventually falls into addiction. If you were to explain in your preface that you suffered from addiction but wanted to protect the people in your life, your story could still have a lot of credibility. However, I don't know how much you've written, so I don't know how easy that would be to do.

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