It is not easy, it is somewhat of a challenge, but there are some truths you have to face.
So you’ve fallen in love with somebody and then discovered that he or she are so much indulging in alcohol or substances that they are unable to desist and are impairing their finances, career, and health. Naturally you feel involved and wanting to do your best to bring them round to a healthier lifestyle.
Yet the noble task of pulling such people out of the quagmire is not half as easy as it may seem at first. First of all, it’s because such people live by their own standards and in a reality of their own which you should learn to understand because it’s very different from others. Some of the salient points underlying their special kind of reality are listed below.
1. It doesn’t have anything to do with you
A person with such kind of compulsory behavior can be very tough on their nearest and dearest, parents and partners most of all. These people are often inclined to feel very personal about it, as if though they were partly or even wholly responsible for the sufferer’s withdrawal into drugs or alcohol. Maybe you could have behaved differently towards them, or could have done something to draw them from the menace… These sad ruminations are useless. Addictions are not so easily brought about. So, if you want to help, forget about the feeling of guilt and stay positive – your help and support will make a good part of their treatment. Try to forgive and forget if you want them to leave their addiction behind.
2. Detoxication is not a kind of treatment
Many people believe that it’s enough to detox an addict properly, and as soon as they are rid of the substance, they can easily stop taking it in. No, it’s not enough, not by a long chalk! Addiction roots in the brain, where it impairs the reward circuitry and wreaks havoc with the parts of the brain responsible for self-control and making decisions – that’s why the person ignores his or her vital interests. This process cannot be stopped by just detoxing; first, time is required to effect changes, and new behavioral patterns must become active and displace the old ones. Once you’re aware of the necessity of building new behavior, you can preserve patience you need to handle the afflicted person.
3. People don’t become addicted consciously
Any addiction grows out of people’s choice whether to take this drink or use this drug – or refrain from it. Yes, it’s a frequent choice all of us take many times during our lives. Moreover, about 80-85% of those who take a drug don’t get hooked. Drink and drugs become a grave problem only for a certain type of people, why? There is no cut-and-dry answer to this question, although some factors can be traced down. It depends on the genetic pattern, possible childhood traumas, anxiety and worry that keep growing on the person, bipolar disorder. These (and other) factors result in changes in the brain and conditioning the behavior, the state that is very difficult to reverse.
4. The person starting on a treatment doesn’t necessarily want to become clean
You can’t expect them settling on a firm decision to quit from today on. The addiction itself doesn’t worry them to such an extent; no, what drives them to undergoing treatment is the outcome of their disruptive behavior. They are on the verge of being fired or have already been fired. Their partner is going to leave them or has already walked out. They had so much of it that they need medical attention. But all these troubles may prove to be not enough for the person to start thinking about quitting.
That means that to be successful any treatment must begin with a motivation to change the unwholesome lifestyle. It can become a long and difficult process too, the person trying to avoid the issues all the time, putting forward a string of arguments like: I am not addicted, I can quit it when I want, I am going to use less in the nearest future. About the job, the boss always picked on me, and he arranged it so that I was to blame.
That’s all so much piffle. If it were as easy as that, your relative or spouse would have already quit.
5. Talking with them means being lied to
Your relative or spouse will be lying to you, sometimes unconsciously, sometimes even believing in their own lies. It will be very hard to outface them, what’s more, you love them and want to believe what they tell you. Yet they have only one purpose in mind: to protect their current lifestyle and their right to use the substance because their need for it is great. This doesn’t mean you should allow them to get away with lying, yet you would fare better if you understood reasons behind their lies. They are not anything personal directed at you – there’s no need to resent them and be hurt by them. You should keep up the communication while giving them to understand that you are not going to buy their lies. And go on encouraging them towards the right path.
6. There is a reason for any relapse
Mind that alcohol and substances are generally taken first as a primitive medication to alleviate distress, depression, anxiety, lessen the effects of a trauma. These are known as co-occurring disorders, and if the sufferer experiences any of them, it aggravates the general conditions and increases the risk of a relapse.
As is clinically recognized, about 30% of people with mental disorders and about 50% of those suffering from severe mental issues have substance abuse in a varying number of forms.
Such people need overall treatment.
On the bright side, there are many therapies and techniques that can really help, including the cognitive behavioral method, EMDR (special eye movements that initiate processing negative emotions in the brain), a variety of antidepressants and other medicines. It is important to remember, though, that you don’t treat addiction apart from other health and mental conditions.
You are unable to put them off it. No matter how painful it is for you to see your loved person walk on the road to hell, no matter how strong is your protective desire, you can’t cure them on your own. Attempts undertaken on a personal level may only prolong the suffering for all concerned. The best thing you can do is convince them that they ought to cope with their bad situation, they need to change. Like you can refuse to give them money because they will use it on substances, but will be only too glad to finance treatment.
Anything else you can do? There are things:
- Consult an expert in addiction. They can mitigate your bad feelings, dive useful advice and stimulate your resolution.
- Take good care of yourself. Take care that your loved one’s problems do not rub off on you. A good place to get advice on how to comport yourself best is a group like Al-Anon or Codependency Anonymous – there are people who had to deal with exactly the same type of situations.
Addiction is a disheartening phenomenon, and it’s so easy to lose hope. Yet it can be held in check. According to the latest Surgeon General’s report, right now in the U.S. something like 25 million people are undergoing remission from substance abuse. Keep hoping!