Is this like it is?
When he sat down, I could see from the way his grey-blue eyes sat in the eye sockets, white on three sides, the iris slightly to the top of the eyelid, that this man was very toxic. He was dressed in an executive way. White collar, tie, dark trousers, neatly polished, black slip-on shoes. His greying hair cut short, parted on the side. His ashen grey complexion, even his lips, eyes, appeared unnaturally white, further indicated toxicity. The skin looked dry and lined. His hands, well cared for, held either side of the wingback chair in a relaxed manner. He sat back into the chair, holding his body like someone who was used to being in charge of situations. I waited for him to speak.
“I will say it like it is”. His voice was firm, familiar to the sound of words, nuances, utterances, silences, to communicate his opinions. “I want to know from you, is it really that dangerous to use painkillers daily?” His eyes had now shifted into a “So, now you know” look, observing my reaction to his question. Depending on how he judged my response, he would choose his reaction.
“My doctor does not seem to be too perturbed. I have regular blood checks to determine kidney and liver function. I don’t drink alcohol and I do not smoke. I try to eat well. I regularly go to gym for workouts.” By now, there was a mixture of defiance, concern, and pleading in the well modulated voice.
“What painkillers do you use and how many per day?” I asked in a voice as neutral as possible.
His gaze shifted slightly to the right, coming back to meet my eyes. “Depending on my headaches, I will take 2 or 3 as I wake up. Then, through the day I will usually take a few more.” He was uncomfortable to tell the full extent of his addiction.
“How many pills a day, and what type?” I asked again. He flashed a quick look at me, “Per week more or less 100 to 150 pills”. Now his eyes had naked fear pouring from them. “Sometimes I can get it down to 50 or 80; my body seems to cope. But I am worried what will happen at work if they find out. I am a bank manager and work under great pressure. My addition is getting worse – it is all I can think of all day long.” His pleading voice, his rounded shoulders, showed his anguish. Gone was the self-assured man, replaced by the will-less defeated addict. This man’s story is not unique. People can become addicted to many different substances and behaviour patterns. What is of concern is just how prevalent it is.