If you have never struggled with addiction, count yourself lucky. You will never know the horror of addiction or wanting to stop but being unable to. Imagine something so powerful that it consumes you. That’s what it is like for those who are susceptible to addiction.
All they have to do is take their first drink or drug and it consumes them completely, and the next thing they know they’re in need of serious drug counseling. They develop a psychological dependency – a mental and emotional process that goes hand-in-hand with the addiction. The inebriated state becomes the new normal for their brains while their bodies become physically dependent. They need increasingly higher doses to create the same euphoric effect.
With the build-up of tolerance, signals are sent to their mid-brain that override their frontal lobe, which is the area of the brain responsible for executive functions such as judgment, planning for the future, inhibition, impulse control, and attentional span, and decision-making skills.
The mid-brain is the area responsible for survival. It is our fight or flight response. The signal it receives from those suffering from addiction says ‘get high or die’. The susceptible person’s brain responds in a different way to chemical stimulation from a non-addict’s brain.
Most people can use alcohol and drugs with just a few consequences if any. They never over-indulge since they don’t like the feeling of being out of control. For the people that struggle with addiction, however, feeling out of control is something that usually never happens when they use.
Instead, they feel that they are in control, perhaps for the first time in their lives. When they are sober, they feel uncomfortable. They stand in a crowd but still feel lonely, different, and separate from the people around them. They are observers – outsiders, looking in. Something is definitely missing.
Susceptible people try filling the void they fill with alcohol or drugs, porn, gaming, exercise, work, relationships, shopping, or even food. Their first experience with an addictive substance or other mood-altering behaviours changes how they feel about themselves and their perception of the world that surrounds them. The feelings of happiness and euphoria are usually so powerful that they are willing to chase them for the rest of their life.
Here are 3 things you need to know about people struggling with addiction:
Addiction Lies in Your Own Voice
It is easy to become addicted since nobody knows what they are doing. We tell ourselves that it’s just having fun or we need it to relax. We try minimising the severity of addiction by solely focusing on the things that we still have as opposed to what we’ve lost.
For instance, I still have a job or I have a roof over my head. The cocaine user says I don’t use meth. The alcoholic says, I only drink beer. The meth addict says, I only smoke drugs but don’t inject them. The pill-popper, on the other hand, says at least I’m not a heroin user.
Addiction denies itself in the scariest voice of all, which is your own.
Addiction Isn’t a Moral Failing or Weakness
People struggling with addiction are not bad, even though they might do certain bad things to maintain the habit. The reality is that such people are just very sick.
Addiction is a disease that affects the brain, which rewires the cerebral cortex and results in poor judgement and poor impulse control. Addiction manifests in compulsive substance use despite its harmful consequences. It is progressive in nature ending in recovery, institutions, jails, or even death.
People Struggling with Addiction Need an Enabler to Stay Sick
The addict’s enabler essentially aids in their loved one’s addiction by making excuses on their behalf. They loan them money, clean up their messes, and keep their secrets.
While the enabler assumes that they know their sick loved one better than anybody else, in reality, they are usually the easiest family member to manipulate. With this one-sided relationship, the addicted individual is able to under-perform in all aspects and solely focus on the relationship they have with alcohol or drugs.