Simone faces the family

March 26, 2014

Simone should be home by now. She planned to attend an 8 p.m. recovery group meeting. At 9:30, with the ribbons of sunlight that striped the kitchen disappearing into shadows, the family is worried. Simone has said she’s afraid she’ll start using drugs again. She’s been gone a lot, almost as if she’s avoiding the family.

Leah joins Carol on the couch, curling up in her mother’s lap. Ari, who has been through more than one rehab and recovery program, takes a seat too. By 11 p.m., the grandchildren are in bed. Leah is drinking tea when Simone appears in the doorway. Nothing to worry about, Simone says, she was simply talking with a friend.

“We’re just concerned because we’re seeing some old behavior — staying away and not doing what you’re supposed to be doing,” Carol says. “What can we do to help?”

Simone says it’s difficult to feel like everyone is watching her. She doesn’t have a job and can’t pay rent, but at least she doesn’t have a needle in her arm. The next morning, Simone doesn’t want to get out of bed and pulls the covers tight around her head. “I’ve never had five months of ‘clean time,’ ” she says of her fragile sobriety.

Originally published May 3, 2014 by Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage Daily News.