Saturday, April 13, 2013

Truth of Addiction

Throughout the years I have known plenty of people who drank alcohol and dabbled in drugs from high school, college and onward.  I learned at an early age that  alcohol and drugs don't discriminate they affect all ages, groups, races, economic classes, educated/non educated, you name it.  Athletes, housewives, professionals, scholars, students, celebrities,  etc., no one is immune.  And in this age of easily obtained prescription and street drugs, not to mention abundance of alcohol ....addiction can happen to anyone.

We hear those words it can happen to anyone but we don't think it could happen to someone we know.  But it does, and it happened to someone close to me.  Not sure I have yet to accept the reality or seriousness of the situation.  It's rather new, so at this point what I feel  is a profound sense of hurt, confusion and even a little anger some days.

It's been said that addiction is selfish to a certain extent that is true. Addicts for the most part don't think about others so much as what they are addicted to, how they feel or what they need.  It eventually becomes their sole focus, often times consuming their life.  Even their finances are destroyed in the process.

I feel one of the most painful aspects for loved ones of an addict is the deception, dishonesty and lies that go hand in hand with any kind of addiction.  The constant lies, excuses, secrets and inability to tell the truth are incredibly hard on loved ones and can seemingly destroy the best of relationships.  Lying becomes second nature to them, almost as addictive as their addiction.

Truth is addiction affects not only those with the addiction but anyone close to the addict.  The Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde personality that tends to develop can be extremely hard to understand. Sweet/loving one day mean/moody the next.  Saying one thing and doing another becomes the norm.  Many times they isolate themselves, putting up walls that can be extremely hard to get through. As hard as it is on the addict, it is equally as hard on those who love them.

Not being able to help is very difficult, as even though everyone around the addict may know they have a problem they themselves have to come to the realization. The people around an addict see them suffering in ways even the addict themselves cannot fully see.  Though people can try to guide them to help, and be there to support them....they themselves must be willing to seek the help, to be willing to commit and devote their time to recovery.  Recovery involves action and work. Recovery must be their number one priority. 

There is no short term fix or cure for addiction. The addict needs to learn how to live life again, how to deal with cravings, responsibilities, people, stress, work, all while being clean.  They need to build a strong support system, and let go of any friends who are not clean.  There is no magic pill or quick fix.  It involves A LOT of hard work, behavioral and lifestyle changes, soul exploring, open mindedness, support and a lifetime commitment of sorts to some form of recovery program.

In addition, family/loved ones must seek support....Al Anon, Nar Anon, and many other support groups exists for this sole purpose.  Counseling, books on the subject, etc., can all help as well.

Addiction in whatever form destroys people and lives. Their former selves eventually become unrecognizable.  Alcohol and drugs can literally destroy personalities, health, families, careers, lives and the effects eventually trickle down to all areas of society.  Drugs sold on the streets affect us all.  And if we think we, or the ones we love, are immune to it we are kidding ourselves.

Fact is, going in for any kind of surgery and being given painkillers can lead to an addiction.  If there is a genetic susceptibility the risk is even greater.  Being given prescription drugs known to be addictive, for any ailment can lead to addiction as well.  Or the kid/adult who starts experimenting with drugs for social fun, who eventually finds that one substance they need more of and cannot stop taking.  Or the innocent social drinking that can easily evolve into an addiction. Or the drink after work to unwind that eventually leads to needing more each day.

The avenues that can lead to addiction are endless. And the people it affects vary as much as the avenues that lead to it.

All I know is that I cannot pretend anymore.  Truth is I wanted to pretend for a while that this person didn't have an addiction, I knew deep down but just didn't want to accept it.  But it's time to accept reality.  It's painful, it hurts, there is a sense of apprehension/fear and the lies feel unbearable. To see them suffer brings a sense of sadness yet a strong urge to help.  There are thoughts such as why, how, when, what can I do to help yet not enable.

They sought treatment a few months ago and are in the process of  trying to work a recovery program.  Key word is trying, truthfully at times it's been a struggle.  There will be ups and downs along the way.  It won't be easy that's for sure.  I know the healing, learning, coping and recovery process will be a lifelong journey for everyone.  There are a lot of various aspects that need to be implemented for a successful recovery. It's like any other disease.

Writing this post isn't easy but I feel it was in some way necessary.  I want people to know it's not something that should be hidden or people should feel ashamed of.  It's life.  And who are we to judge anyone before we have walked in their shoes?

I don't feel ashamed of this persons I tend to feel more sadness as I think it has cost them so much mentally, physically, financially, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually.  In many ways it has affected jobs, relationships, hobbies, goals, dreams,etc.. Essentially it feels like it has taken their enthusiasm for life, their motivation, anything that used to make them happy and basically numbed them to everything. 

We think of addicts as being homeless on the streets, and yes eventually it can progress to that point. But there are many so called functional addicts that live and work amongst us as well....going to school, work,etc, who many of us would never know had a problem with alcohol or drugs. But behind the front they try to portray to the world, they are actually suffering.

Imagine if your father/mother, brother/sister, spouse/partner, cousin, niece/nephew, best friend, etc. had an addiction, what would you do? say? how would you help?  Addictions aren't even just about drugs/alcohol it could be gambling, porn, electronics, hoarding, eating disorders, video games, shopping, the variety of addictions run wide these days.  Instead of judging I strongly feel we need to try help those who need it. Fully realizing there is a fine line between supporting and enabling.

I strongly believe in the power of prayer and simply ask for prayers.  I pray everyday that this person close to me will give recovery their all, can overcome their addiction, come through it feeling better than they were before it and find a way to live a happy, honest life.

My intent is to share this journey in some way, maybe one day a week on the blog.  And maybe through blogging I can try to help those who need it as well.  It won't be just about personal stories but inspiration and finding ways to be positiveness during any tough time as well.  I have some ideas and I'm sure it will evolve with time into what it's meant to.

What I know is....each of us can help make the world a better place. Yes we must be the change we want to see that is true,  but we must also try to help others be the best they can be too.... we simply have to try.  We can help build not only ourselves up, but others as step at a time.  Maybe by talking about it, it will help someone, somewhere!   

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