The Mind of Addiction

April 13, 2020 - Mary Fran Bontempo

Man in facemask

The drug dealers are wearing masks.

It’s almost unfathomable that purveyors of addiction and death are worried about protecting themselves from possible COVID 19 infection transmitted by their “customers,” a.k.a. addicts. These bottom dwellers who have no problem selling the tools of sickness and death are wearing masks to stay healthy even as they provide others with the drugs to get and stay sick. 

Yet, I wonder if the masks, and the irony of the dealers wearing them even registers with an addict in need of a fix? I’ll bet it doesn’t, at least as no more than a passing observation.

Hey, he’s wearing a mask. Look at that. Here’s the money; you got the stuff? 

One of the most frightening aspects of my son, David’s, addiction was knowing that he was intentionally ingesting drugs. (I still have trouble verbalizing that he was shooting heroin into his veins.) At least, that’s how I saw it. My son, who was so smart, was intentionally putting poison into his body.

I couldn’t for the life of me understand why or how he would do such a thing. 

Yet, he did it, probably for much longer than I even knew. And it wasn’t until I had exhausted all of my efforts to “talk” with him, pointing out the error of his ways, noting again that he was going to kill himself, relaying once more how he was capable of so much if hewould only “get back on track….”

It was only after I had said everything I could possibly say, and not only did nothing change, but David overdosed on a pain medication, it was only then that I knew that nothing I said made sense or even mattered, because all that matters to an addict is the next fix.

The mind of an addict is scrambled.

Truth, facts, love, responsibility—pretty much everything is relevant only in so far as it can be manipulated to help stop the pain and cravings caused by withdrawal. Those of us who haven’t experienced it can never possibly understand how a drug-addicted mind thinks.  

If you’ve been trying to reason with an addicted loved one, stop. It won’t work. You are out of your element. Even if your loved one swears they hear you and things will change.Unless they agree to get professional help, they are lying, despite whatever good intentions they may have.

Addiction is a beast with an iron grip, possibly sporting a face mask these days. You’ll never understand it or be able to reason with it. While the experts are still trying to get a handle on COVID 19, there are other experts who can help right now with addiction.

Seek them out. Make the call. You can’t understand the mind of an addict, but you can find help to calm your own. 

Mary Fran Bontempo is a 2x TEDx speaker, author and humorist. Visit her at

Her latest book, “The 15 Minute Master—How to Make Everything Better 15 Minutes at a Time,” can be found on Amazon.

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