- Mental Health
Addiction-A Heartless Lover
The Cycle of Addiction
According to Wikipedia, addiction is defined as physical or psychological dependence on psychoactive substances which cross the blood-brain barrier once ingested, temporarily altering the chemical milieu of the brain.
Anyone who has dealt with addiction or has experienced it through an addicted loved one couldn’t care less about its formal definition. It is a life wrecker, a home wrecker, a relationship wrecker and a very seductive, but heartless lover. An addictive substance promises comfort and escape without judgment, and indeed delivers, until it drops the user into the abyss of despair and addiction that is promised to follow.
From first memory, someone in my life has dealt with substance abuse. It was not something I understood as a small child, but bad things happened around it, and as I grew older, so did my understanding of its control. Unfortunately, the person whom addiction has consumed is only one of the people who suffer from its grip. Those living with (or should I say, trying to live with) the addict, by default, sacrifices their own life’s normalcy. It is impossible for children to understand that their parent or caregiver really does love them, when the adult chooses alcohol or drugs over them on a regular basis. They also cannot discern that they are not at fault for this disastrous turn in their lives. Low self esteem and a lack of self worth are usually the best case scenario endings for these young victims. Life for everyone involved inevitably unravels when addiction enters the picture and the pain and dysfunction it brings can last a lifetime.
My own life has been affected by alcohol addiction and drug addiction. Two people I loved chose it over me or at least that is how it felt. Intellectually, I now know my interpretation was not accurate, and I understand that any person suffering from these addictions is deeply lost and in pain beyond what I can know. Over the years I have chosen to understand it more deeply and try to do my part in helping its victims whenever they appear in my life. Recently, I learned of a non-profit called “The Healing Place.” It uses the Alcoholic Anonymous model and serves the homeless with addiction issues…which is about 75% nationally. Once a person has been admitted, his/her therapy mostly comes from peers who have completed previous steps. It works well because these addicts receive help from others who have been in their shoes-homeless and hopeless. The average sobriety rate for programs using this model is over 70% after the first year of treatment (amazingly successful), and these people are at rock bottom. If they can beat addiction, anyone with the will and right treatment can also do it. Substance abuse is rampant and many times it leads to addiction, for the power of the substance is far more powerful than the willpower of the person using it. As you can see by the diagram above, addiction is a vicious cycle, filled with self loathing, anger and guilt. BUT, there is help, and assisting the addict to step away from the denial and seek help may save his/her life. We are fortunate in America to have wonderful support groups to help people in need, but that first step in asking for help is very hard as it involves accountability.
If any of you reading this hub has a person with addiction issues in your life, please educate yourself on the topic and help that person make the first step. Many times, it is beyond the addict’s ability to seek out the help on their own. They have chosen to step into the abyss for whatever reason and if not helped, they will destroy not only their lives, but the lives of anyone who dares to love them. I wish our family had the information and understanding of addiction that is available today. Back then, it was a dirty little secret that everyone knew, but never discussed. My loved one lived in his self induced hell for many years because he was lost, and we did not know how to help him find his way.