When you are in a relationship with an addict or have an addict in your family, you may often wonder why they choose drugs over you. You will hear some say “it’s me or the drugs”. Your thoughts may be how can this person lie and steal from me and still tell me they love me? How can they continue to do this to the people that love them most? You can’t ever believe a word they say to you because their behavior says otherwise. You may tell them to just stop! You aren’t being strong enough, but the drugs down! Well, it’s not that simple.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says:
Many people don’t understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. They may mistakenly think that those who use drugs lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop their drug use simply by choosing to. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will. Drugs change the brain in ways that make quitting hard, even for those who want to. Fortunately, researchers know more than ever about how drugs affect the brain and have found treatments that can help people recover from drug addiction and lead productive lives. (NIH)
Addicts don’t ever choose drugs over their loved ones. Addiction is a disease and a complex disease that many don’t understand.
What Is Addiction or Substance Use Disorder?
Addiction is a disease that is characterized by drug use and drug-seeking that is compulsive and hard to control, despite harmful consequences. Initially, a person may choose to take a drug. Let’s say this is someone that has underlying and untreated depression and anxiety. They take a drug that has been prescribed, that is addictive, or they try an illicit substance. This drug makes their anxiety and depression “better”, so they continue to use it. Repeated use of the drug can lead to changes in the brain that challenge the person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist extreme urges to continue using.
The individual realizes they have a problem so they try to stop, and they start experiencing debilitating physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes the withdrawal symptoms are so severe, that the person will go to any lengths to obtain more of the drug so they don’t have to go through this. This is a cycle that often continues for years. At this point, the drugs will come before any people they love, their jobs, friends, kids, their goals and dreams, their life! Fear prevents the addict from facing their addiction once and for all and getting the proper treatment.
What Can Loved Ones Do to Help Addicted Individuals?
It’s hard to love or be in a relationship with an addict. You stand there feeling so hopeless, not knowing what to do to help this person. You want to take their pain away, and you can’t.
The best thing you can do is learn as much as you can about the disease, educate yourself, and attend support groups like Al-Anon. You have to set healthy boundaries to protect yourself. Making sure that you are taking care of yourself and not focusing all of your time trying to stop the addict from using is so important. You can’t stop them from using. The addict has to want to get help before the cycle stops. If they aren’t ready to stop, anything you say or do will likely not help. Interventions can work, but how you approach the addict is important. If they feel like they are being ganged up on or threatened, then it will drive them to want to use more.
Treatment for Addiction and Alcoholism
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Recreate Life Counseling offers evidence-based addiction treatment. Our cutting edge addiction treatment will lead you on a road to long-lasting recovery. You don’t have to suffer any longer, call us today and let us help you recreate your life.