Friday, June 4, 2010

The Grip of Addiction

Readers of Reality Bytes visit the site typically for two distinct reasons: 1) the stunning insight and advice that Chuck provides to even the most complex personal or relationship problems; and 2) for a bit of a laugh. Unfortunately, today Chuck has had to turn off the laugh-a-minute spigot due to a dark and desperate situation arising – addiction.

To make matters worse, the issue rings close to home and has proven to be a confronting and uncomfortable problem that has rocked the usually unflappable Chuck Long to the very core. Loyal readers are used to Chuck’s cool head in a crisis, his ability to see a problem, dissect it and then present impeccable advice. Well sometimes, when the torch light shines on you, it’s a little tougher to keep it all together.

Now before you jump to conclusions and assume that Chucks about to confess to having personal problems like a gambling addiction or a drinking issue, slap yourself in the face and remember who you’re dealing with here. Chuck Long doesn’t succumb to such follies and moments of weakness! No, this is not Chuck’s troubling malady (which upon reflection is a bad thing since Chuck is confident that he could break the vice like grip through reflection, pray and masturbation – an odd combo Chuck acknowledges).

Unfortunately this illness has befallen someone dearer to Chuck than Chuck himself (hard to imagine) – Mrs Long. Many may wonder why on earth Chuck would be revealing dark family secrets in a public forum? Chuck has grappled with the issue himself. Others have trusted their deepest issues to Chuck in this very space and perhaps Chuck feels the need to reciprocate, to show that he too is a mere mortal and not some demi-god. Perhaps this is a cathartic exercise, an opportunity for Chuck to get things off his chest since it is his muse who is in the centre of this and thus not available for consultation. Perhaps this is an opportunity to use Mrs Long’s misfortune to warn and help others. Chuck’s not really sure, but we’re 356 words in so we should probably press on.

As regular followers of Reality Bytes will know, Mrs Long is currently ‘with child’. To this point the pregnancy had seemed to run well with Mrs Long saying and doing all the right things. In hindsight and much to Chuck’s regret, the warning signs were present. Was Chuck blinded by his impending fatherhood or simply unable to see his lovers slide into the abyss of addiction because she can do no wrong? Those questions are academic now since we’re in the middle of this crippling illness, but a man like Chuck who analyses every action for answers has a right to self loathe after striking out so mightily.

The signs Chuck missed? How about using money for essential household items to feed her habit? How about not being able to focus on everyday tasks because she was distracted by her need for her next fix? How about letting things that she typically held dear (like personal presentation) slip while she hunted for saviour? How about altered behaviour and moodiness that was not rectified until she had consumed what consumed her? Yes, all of those things were taking place right under what Chuck had assumed was a finely trained eye for detail. Writing the above sentences makes Chuck want to hand back his Reality Bytes certification card and find another field of expertise.

So how did Mrs Long’s problem come to light? By accident of course. As with many addicts, she became brazen or perhaps stupefied by her addiction. Buoyed by the success she had in keeping her dark secret, she became careless in her behaviour. Leaving tell tale signs of use around the Long abode, casual references to higher than usual consumption and in the latter stages, an outright craving that lead to long and arduous searches for her salvation. Either that or she was totally strung out that she no longer gave a fuck.

Throughout this ordeal, Chuck has been racked with worry; not only for his wife but also his unborn child. Would the abuse cause immediate damage to the two people that Chuck cares most for? Would there be ongoing health issues that impact on the quality of living and lives of these two people? Chuck’s not only dealing with the present but also the future - it would’ve killed a lesser man. Fortunately Chuck’s not a lesser man.

So what brought all of this to a head you ask?

Well, Chuck caught Mrs Long in the act. Actually, Chuck caught her in the act at a time that suggested that medicinal use was no longer taking place and that addiction had taken hold. It was a jolting kick to the testes for Chuck who was now confronted with plain evidence that his wife was a strung out junkie. This all took place at the unsociable time of 3.35am (the time is burned into Chuck’s mind). Chuck was in deep REM sleep when he was woken from his slumped by the rustling of aluminium packaging. Chuck regained his faculties but remained prone with eyes closed in order to ascertain what was going on. The rustling continued as the unmistakable sound of pills being popped out of the clear plastic bubbles was heard. One- two- three popping sounds. Chuck knew instantly that she was abusing and sadly yet swiftly reached for the light in order to stage an impromptu intervention.

The light was like a frag grenade, stunning Mrs Long as she sat upright in bed, packaging strewn around her and a crunched up chalky substance in her mouth. Instantly she knew that she’d been busted and as with most addicts, her first reaction was justify her addiction.

“I can’t sleep, I need them” she offered feebly.

It was obvious that she didn’t believe her own lie which is an important step – finally confronting the addiction is a must in order to recover.

It was time for Chuck to step up. “Don’t you think you’re overdoing it a little there?”

Mrs Long replied “the pain just keeps getting worse, these are all that help”

“You’ve just ingested 3 in quick succession and who knows how many more before Chuck awoke” Chuck replied

Mrs Long shuddered, the act of a defeated woman.

Chuck swung into action. “Look, the pills are not the only solution to your problem. How about some warm milk or even some hot water and lemon juice”

“Will they help?” she asked

“The first step is trying, you’re not in this alone” Chuck reassured

Chuck grabbed the remainder of the pills and headed for the kitchen where the kettle was boiled and fresh lemon juice squeezed into an awaiting cup. Upon returning to the room, Mrs Long had straightened herself like she had decided then and there to fight this disease. Chuck rearranged some pillows so that she was now able to lie slightly elevated and passed the warm beverage over. Mrs Long greedily gulped at the cup and was quickly finished. Chuck is pleased to report that she soon fell into a peaceful slumber.

Since that night, Chuck has done plenty of soul searching. Yes he should have done the research, he should have understood the tell tale signs, but addiction is a strange thing and you never expect it to hit close to home. In Chuck’s life, the only time he’d ever seen people use antacid or heart burn medication was long haul truck drivers who subsisted on cheese sausages and iced coffee or old men with digestive track problems. Never did Chuck expect his wife to be struck down so mightily by heartburn during her pregnancy that she would develop an absolute dependence on Quickese or Tumms.

Of course there were other avenues for her to turn down but these chewable tablets were the quickest fix she could find for a discomfort that was not easy to quell and afflicted her on an hourly basis. With Chuck’s help and alternative courses of treatment, she’ll be able to beat the hold of heartburn lollies. Men of the world, take Chucks tale to heed and make sure that you are aware that lemon juice in the stomach quickly changes from an acid to a base material, that milk is your woman’s heart burn fire extinguisher and that chewable tablets are not the only answer.

We can help.


  1. I suffered the same addiction as Mrs Long, I am a happily recovered addict with 2 big heartburns that live and breath among us....

  2. those addictions.... heartburn is a bugger.

  3. Chuck you are a dear. Mrs. Long is lucky.