Do you have an addict in your circle? Those suffering from addiction do not always appear to have problems.
Some signs you may notice that indicate that someone is in trouble can include when they drink or use drugs when alone, keep these things hidden away in out-of-the-way places or actively isolates themselves, ignoring friends, loved ones and activities they once enjoyed. This person may exhibit erratic behavior and suffer from troubling physical symptoms when attempting to get sober.
Addiction incurs enormous costs for all of us, whether we have an addict in our circle or not. The challenges with which we wrestle on a societal level are innumerable, including the far-reaching impact of drunk driving, complex medical issues requiring subsidies that affect all of our premiums and homelessness.
However, convincing the addict to get help and to accept recovery is an immensely difficult undertaking.
Here are five lies addicts tell themselves when confronted by loved ones about their addiction. Any one of these keeps them from recognizing that they should get help.
“I would be fine if everyone would leave me alone.”
Placing blame is one of the excuses an addict uses to justify substance abuse.
They often believe family and friends are just trying to make their lives worse, and it is usually nearly impossible to convince them otherwise. Besides the denial they exhibit when they explain why they drink or use, drugs and alcohol can actually cause or heighten feelings of paranoia.
Because of these factors, in addition to the secrecy surrounding their using, the addict can feel very isolated and lonely.
If you have an addict in your circle, it might be helpful to keep a written list somewhere of those people who care and who have attempted to intervene to help. If the addict cannot hear you at this time, this list may serve later on to remind them who does care, if and when they are willing to listen.
“I can quit anytime I want.”
An addict is usually convinced they are in control of their life.
In fact, it is the substance that controls them. Even so, they believe that they can monitor if and how much they use. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If there’s an addict in your life, you have witnessed first-hand how they will choose substance over family, friends, work and anything else in their life, including future possibilities.
Although you cannot convince an addict of this, you can outline patterns of their abuse and their choices, and use this as part of confronting them.
“If I have to ask for help, this means I’m weak.”
Addiction is stronger than the individual will. The addict believes there is something wrong with them if they can’t detox alone.
This may come from having heard statements by others that include, “Why don’t you just quit?” or “Why do you do that?” Or, they may have heard a story about someone just “kicking it.”
In fact, barring a random miracle, the addict is a prisoner to the substance, and shaming them only makes them retreat and isolate further. And although it is usually impossible for an addict to quit on their own, it’s helpful to urge them to see that because of the nature of the substance and its control over them, asking for help is courageous.
“It’s my choice if I want to screw up my life.”
Substance abuse isn’t the only problem in an addict’s life. Addiction generally spawns legal and financial problems, compromised health, lost relationships, and dishonesty cutting off personal and professional opportunities.
As this happens, other lives are touched. Friends and loved ones suffer in various ways if they stay in such a relationship. The negative impact of the fallout from addiction touches all of us, as I previously mentioned, even if we do not have an addict in our immediate circle.
“Drugs (or alcohol) is better than detox.”
The addicted person may often fear detox, hearing horror stories about withdrawal experiences.
Indeed, the longer a person has used, the more intense detoxing may be. These symptoms used to include fever and chills, vomiting, hallucinating, insomnia and more.
However, we have learned a lot about how to help mitigate these symptoms as of late, and detox is now usually tailored to the individual client, including the prescription of medicines where helpful, in order to ease the negative effects of detoxing. Moreover, detox should include follow-up care in a comprehensive program designed to help will feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as learning new, healthier behaviors to replace abusing substances.
If someone you love is suffering from addiction, please do not shun them. Do not shame them. Educate yourself about the role you may be able to play in their recovery, and seek professional help for advice in intervening, if and when appropriate. The future they can have through recovery is one of possibilities and of joy.
Patti Cotton works with business owners, executives and their companies, to elevate and support leadership at all levels. Reach her at [email protected]