I never once thought that I would end up with an addiction. That’s what you’ll hear from many addicts: you never think it will be you. You believe you have enough control over yourself to avoid something like that.
A lot of times, you don’t want to believe that you could be an addict. The truth is everyone can be a drug addict. The definition of an addict in simple terms is a person who has no control over doing something.
Your brain changes as your addiction deepens, and you become wired differently.
The Definition of An Addict
A drug addict is a person who is powerless to substance abuse, oftentimes to a harmful degree. I became an addict in my teenage years. I was abusing alcohol, which eventually led to opiates and heroin.
I remember watching all of these anti-drug videos in health class, and thinking I was above all of that. If drugs are so bad as these videos say, then why do people do them?
Are they dumb? They must have some sort of weakness. What those videos don’t tell you is that most addicts get to where they are because of a bad upbringing or personal trauma history. They also don’t tell you that you can have the perfect upbringing and still become an addict. Addiction does not discriminate.
Are Alcoholics Addicts?
There are some differences between alcohol and drug addictions, but they are pretty closely linked. Are alcoholics addicts? Absolutely, yes.
The biggest difference is that alcohol is a socially acceptable addiction. You can get rather drunk in a public restaurant or bar and no one bats an eye.
If you are shooting (or even smoking) heroin in the middle of a restaurant, people will probably be horrified by this. Alcoholism is much trickier to deal with because of that fact.
The temptations are much more out in the open. Just walking by a liquor store can be a huge trigger, never mind billboards and banners that advertise the latest varieties of new, intoxicating ‘adult beverages.’
NA and the Definition of an Addict
Narcotics Anonymous groups approach addiction as a disease and use this approach when offering treatment and recovery to addicts. There is a lot of debate over the classification of addiction as a disease.
Narcotics Anonymous has used this definition of an addict as a way to help people understand that active addiction is out of their control.
Using this approach, they have had a lot of success in helping people maintain sobriety. With this philosophy, your addiction is seen as something that you need to consistently work on and keep in check. If you let your guard down, it can overpower you.
How To Help Someone Who Is an Addict
Understanding addiction is the most important aspect of helping someone who is an addict. Most of the time, it’s much easier for an addict to accept help from former addicts.
It’s not difficult to take advice from someone who has been in your shoes. If you haven’t educated yourself on drug and alcohol addiction, it’s difficult to know how to approach someone who is an addict.
All you can really do is tell them they should stop. The recovery community is made up of mostly former addicts for a reason.
When I was in the Circle of Hope Recovery Center, a lot of the staff who helped me were people who had been through what I was going through.
They were a representation of what I could be after my recovery. The people at Circle of Hope are incredible role models. It’s very important for addicts to see the success stories in others.
Whenever I go to group meetings, I meet all types of wonderful people living their best lives. It gives me a lot of confidence that despite my past, I am not defined by what I used to be.
Helping an Addict in Denial
One of the tricky things about offering help is how to help an addict who is in denial. Denial is a huge part of addiction.
There is a lot of shame and personal agony that exists for drug addicts. Addicts themselves usually have no idea how to deal with addiction. It cripples you and makes you a different version of yourself.
I didn’t want to admit I had a problem until I could no longer hide the scars all over my body and my rapid weight loss. My lies didn’t work anymore. Once you finally admit you have a problem, you can begin the recovery process openly and honestly.
If you are living with an addict the signs become obvious. Addicts will try to hide their addiction, but their routine will give them away.
Mood swings, keeping odd hours, not eating, erratic behavior, it all becomes glaringly obvious after an extended period. When I was using heroin and had a sober roommate, I would come home for less than an hour, disappear into my room, and then leave.
Eventually, he knew what was going on. I could deny it, but we both knew the truth. He didn’t appreciate me playing dumb. After being confronted enough times, I could no longer deny it. I was an addict.
How To Love an Addict?
Can drug addicts love? Are they capable of giving and receiving love and affection? Of course, they can. Just because you are an addict does not make you an unfeeling monster.
You can do some horrible things to your loved ones when you are an addict, but it’s important to remember that addiction turns you into an altered version of yourself.
You’re not operating on a normal level. Because relationships are built on trust, it can be hard to be with someone who is always lying about their addiction.
If you love an addict, it’s going to take a lot of patience and compassion to pull them out of the fog of substance abuse. It’s also good to remember that you can’t fix someone all by yourself. They are going to have to want help.
It’s important to be understanding and empathetic to people suffering from addiction. The tough-love approach can work, but people struggling with addiction will not get better if they don’t have a good support system.
I had a wonderful family by my side no matter what. I lied to them, stole from them, and treated them very poorly over the years.
It didn’t make them love me any less. That taught me a very important lesson about love. Sometimes it can be more powerful than the drug. It was a wonderful realization for me to understand the healing powers of unconditional love.
Recovery from Addiction: An Inside Job
You are going to go through the wringer when you begin your recovery journey. As an addict, you have a lot of soul searching to do. You have a lot more things to work on than just your addiction.
If you have the right people around you, you will be set up for success. It ultimately comes down to you. If you are willing to admit you are an addict, and that you are powerless to your addiction, you can begin the process with an open mind.
It’s going to be uncomfortable, but just making the decision that you want to get clean is a huge step. Some people don’t ever even get to that point. If you realize you need help and want it, you’re doing something right.