The Addict Has A Different Biological Make-Up
The trap of addiction seems to happen quickly for some people, and others don’t seem to have an issue with it. Why is that? Doctors are telling us that it’s in our genes! I remember hearing this thirty-five years ago when my husband was in rehab for alcoholism.
So if it’s already in a person’s biological make-up, is there any hope for them to be free from addiction?
I say there is definitely hope. I’ve witnessed my husband give up alcohol for 10 years, another one of his family members for longer, and his father. They were all heavy drinkers. It is harder for them to give up an addiction because everything within their mind is asking for relief and a chance to get it through their drug.
So what’s the magic trick? Of course, as you know there is none. I do believe that certain drugs are harder to give up than others but so many influences from many directions of varying kinds make everyone’s situation unique. But one thing human nature has going for us is the ability to be stronger when we need to be and the ability to change.
It’s Not Your Fault
The number one thing to know and remember if you have someone close to you who is an addict it that it is not your fault. Ultimately everyone is responsible for their choices and we can’t possibly always know what’s going on inside someone’s mind. It’s not our fault that something is hard for them to deal with. Sometimes people tell themselves (especially Moms) that they must have done something terribly wrong. This is a lie! The worst thing you did, if anything, was once you already knew about the addiction, you kept doing things to make it easy for the addict to continue the habit. (giving them money, covering for them when they make a mistake, or cleaning up a mess that was a result of their habit).
I’m not a therapist, but I know that therapy is always a big influence in anyone’s life. The first thing I noticed when I went was the tremendous understanding and non-judgment that I felt. In fact, if you decide to try it and don’t feel this, you need to go somewhere else. Keep in mind, though, eventually, you will be given professional advice, and if you don’t try to do what you’re told, you may fail at overcoming whatever struggle it is that drove you to the therapist in the first place.
To anyone who has never experienced it I’ll tell you what it’s like. It’s therapeutic because you feel like someone is attentive to you and they want to help you. Sometimes we can talk to other people til we are blue in the face and we don’t feel better because we can tell they don’t know what to say, or they don’t care at all.
But, I believe that having a friend, parent, mentor, aunt, uncle, teacher, co-worker or anyone to talk to who listens and cares about you can be very helpful. The big issue is, YOU have to be open and honest in asking them for help. An untrained person can help you just by reminding you of the changes you wanted to make and why you wanted to make them.
This is why movie stars who want to be free from addiction are going to events with a mentor who can give them the reminders of why they don’t want to take part in the drugs everyone else is doing. That tells me that if we know someone who is messing up, over and over, in an addiction, they need our support.
So often we want to just rid ourselves of people who keep getting into trouble because of their addiction but I believe there is a right and wrong time to do that. It can get complicated, but in an effort to keep it simple for now, here are a few ideas of how we can help people in this situation.
Help Them To Feel Loved
Let’s say they are back from rehab the second time and doing good:
While they are sober, make sure to tell them how proud of them you are. Tell them how important they are to you and compliment something positive about their personality. In other words, make them feel lovable. The miracle that happens to a person who is told they are needed, wanted, loved, and lovable is the miracle that starts healing for the addict.
Talk about previous good times you had with the person. Try to find out what they previously liked to do with their free time. What was it that they couldn’t wait to do after school or work. Maybe bringing that up to them and encouraging them to start doing it again could help. We don’t want them to bury whatever pain it is that makes them want to use drugs but the therapist hopefully is helping them with that. In the meantime, I think any addiction can be like a voice in your head telling you over and over how good it would feel to use again. Maybe if we replace that voice with something healthy that make us feel good we would have the strength to give up the drug that leaves us feeling horrible after we have used.
I remember always hearing that I will feel so much better when I get my chores are done when I get my homework done, housework, and anything else that may or may not be fun. When I’m finished there is that extra bonus of feeling great! I’m not left with an extreme down feeling which turns into low self-esteem and sadness which ends up as a crippling burden to carry. Maybe the addict was never taught this or able to understand it. For more on self-esteem click here.
How It Feels To Stop A Drug
I had surgery on my shoulder a few years ago and the first couple nights after being cut open are rough! I was given Morphine tablets with an anti-nausea medicine to take with the morphine. I remember waking up in the middle of the night with horrible pain and taking the morphine. I actually didn’t like how I felt right before I fell asleep and it’s probably different from taking it with a needle, but it was too strong for me. Morphine would put me to sleep and take the pain away, but as I was falling asleep I started to feel euphoria, which is hard to explain. It was like my body and mind felt so good and peaceful and it kept getting better and better til I fell asleep. But right before I nodded off it started to feel like the room was starting to spin and that the euphoria was going too fast into a place that wasn’t good. I didn’t want to take it again but ended up taking it for two more nights.
After that, I had Oxycodone for the pain. I don’t recall how long I took it but it might have been a week. I don’t remember feeling to0 bad when I stopped this drug, although when I tried to go back to work I ended up crying from the pain and had to take more time off til I didn’t need the pain medicine. Once I realized the pain wasn’t as bad I stopped the Oxy. Since I deal with depression I probably thought I was just having a few bad days afterward and wasn’t in the mindset of taking more because I’ve learned with depression that it usually passes and there are things you can do to feel better until then.
But one day I was having severe cramps on my day off and I had leftover Oxy in the cupboard. The pain seemed unbearable so I took 1 pill and I felt better within thirty minutes. In fact, I felt like I was on top of the world! But the next day I was miserable. I wasn’t in pain but I was extremely down, sad, irritable, unmotivated and sorry I ever took the Oxy! I could see immediately why people who have a biological factor for addiction and even those who don’t would take the Oxy again just to feel better emotionally.
We Still Should Be Able To Be Free From Physical Pain While Being Treated For An Illness
All the fuss of Opioids an addiction has caused the healthcare system to try to control how much painkillers doctors can prescribe. I personally think that just makes things a major headache for everyone, doctor, pharmacist, and patient. Pain management therapy is what should be offered, prescribed and encouraged for people coming off an extended period of taking pain medicine. My husband is a recovering alcoholic and was treated with Fentanyl, Oxycodone, and other pain medicines during cancer treatment. When his pain was almost gone he was prescribed pain management therapy to help him slowly lesson the drug, therefore drastically lessening the negative effects of quitting cold turkey.
Yes, some people might still have a problem and doctors can help with getting the patient help. A lot of times life answers aren’t as easy as we would like. Can we take something a toddler has had an attachment to (bottle) away in one day without a fuss?
There are definitely times where the addiction is affecting other people negatively and causing havoc that is too hard to cope with.
That is when boundaries need to be set that possibly includes separation from the addict. There is a right way to do this. I will talk about this more in a future post.
Interested in more about my husband John’s Alcoholism? Click here.
Do you have any experience with addiction or someone you know with addiction that would give you some insight to share with us? Please Do! Please keep their names anonymous.