Sick and Tired of being Sick and Tired

Help and assistance to battle addiction

Regardless of what has brought you here. It will be reassuring to know that solutions are available for the condition you are experiencing. Addiction is a primary disease that is chronic, progressive and eventually fatal. Hope comes in the form of acknowledging that chemical dependency is treatable. Physical, emotional and spiritual pain is often the price of admission to a new way of living. A moment of clarity or some form of spiritual awakening is sometimes the prerequisite for accessing help. Occurrences, which are perceived as “bad” things, happen for “good” things to take place.

Initially, addiction begins with experimentation with gateway drugs such as alcohol and marijuana. Before long, regular use occurs, then abuse and eventually dependency. Ultimately, one has to engage in their substance of choice to feel normal. The drug will work for a while, providing the person with the necessary reward or payoff. (It tricks you) It really doesn’t matter what substance the person is harmfully involved with because the person is actually trying to alleviate stress and numb out in an attempt to comfort himself. This soul sickness relies on external gratification to fill an internal void. It is referred to as “switching deck chairs on the Titanic” where various mind-mood altering substances are utilized as an escape from reality. It can be drugs, alcohol, sex, work, pills, food, gambling and many more.

We can debate at length why certain people are predisposed to addictive behaviour and self-destructive tendencies; however, a thorough assessment usually uncovers environmental triggers, trauma, abuse, low self-esteem, ego, and peer pressure. (15% to 20% of the population is harmfully involved with a substance.) However, many others are deeply affected by another person’s addictive behaviour. It is a “family disease.”

Components of Substance Abuse

Dependency can be simply characterized by three C’s. The first C is where one loses the ability to CONTROL usage, as it tends to dictate choices for the person. The second C refers to CONSEQUENCES, where in spite of negative consequences (relationships, vocational, legal, financial, moral, spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health), the people return to their drug of choice as a coping mechanism when in fact it is the issue. Finally, the third C makes reference to the COMPULSION, the obsession phase that has the addicted person planning usage, which renders them incapable of experiencing healthy relationships with family, friends or colleagues at work. This preoccupation dictates whom they associate with and where they go. They are condemned to repeat the same mistakes over and over again, expecting a different result when, in fact, they get the very same outcome. This would qualify as a definition of insanity.

Meanwhile, well-intentioned loved ones, including family, friends and colleagues, try to influence the outcome by providing inappropriate assistance in the form of ENABLING. This act prevents the addicted person from experiencing the full consequences of their choices and addictive behaviour. Therefore, a safety net keeps the individual from hitting rock bottom, which, when the individual is in denial, need to attain to acknowledge the severity and nature of their addiction.

Co-dependents must realize that they didn’t CAUSE this problem, they can’t CONTROL it, and they can’t CURE it. Often the wrong person takes responsibility and experiences guilt, shame and remorse, which can perpetuate self-destructive behaviour. Consequently, people are stuck in their poor choices, where they continually let in the bad and resist the good. This is a BOUNDARY issue. The substance, in fact, is covering up a living problem and the lack of non-chemical coping skills to deal with the stressors of everyday life.

How to help someone denying their Addiction

Fear is often the primary condition that keeps one from accessing help and addressing change in their life. This disease is characterized by DENIAL, which is the psychological process that serves to keep the addicted person out of touch with reality. Insidiously, the same condition that is causing so much damage to the person’s life is also preventing them from fully recognizing it.   

Typically the addicted person refuses treatment that would stop the addiction and engage in a thorough abstinent based treatment program. Remember, they are not a bad person trying to get good, but a sick person in need of help. Admission or acknowledgement of a problem and surrender is a prerequisite to recovery. Then with the key components of honesty, open-mindedness and willingness, progress is not only possible but also realistic.

Secrecy allows the disease to progress and encourages self-deception. You may have to hurt a person’s feelings and intervene to save their life. Will they like or appreciate this? Probably not! However, if you keep doing what you are doing, then you are going to get what you are getting. Destroying the enabling network will make it more likely that the addicted person will seek or accept help. Remember the sick, addicted person is the last one to know the nature and severity of the problem. It is a cycle of pain, blame and shame that drives addict behaviour and decision making.

Addiction is a Family Disease

Education is the critical first step so that all parties get help. In doing so, the shame and stigma are reduced, resulting in not feeling so alone, isolated and hopeless. The terminal uniqueness of the addict’s situation is just another telltale sign that they are in trouble. Support is vital if they are to make some changes that allow them to engage in RECOVERY. Remember, addiction is a family disease, so the entire family gets sick together and therefore, all have to get well together. Each person must examine the part that they played in it and make appropriate changes in their behaviour.

The addict must then replace old activities and behaviours to give their life balance, purpose and connection to their environment. These changes gain permanence as we act our way into a new way of thinking where we develop a value and belief system that is congruent with how we conduct ourselves in daily living. The best revenge is to live your life healthy, happy and free of self-destructive behaviour. When recovery begins, you will feel humbled yet grateful for this new way of living.