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Drug Addicts: Four Ways Society Makes Them Harder to Cope With

Updated on July 3, 2016

Drug addicts often make the lives of their families and other loved ones very painful. On top of the agony of watching loved ones suffer from a drug habit that causes the loss of health, jobs, friends and usually, life, is the difficulty of coping with societal attitudes, judgments and incomprehension of the addiction. There are at least four ways that society makes it more difficult for people to cope with the addictive behaviors of those they love.

Society Judges

Regardless of what kind of deadly addiction it is, whether to alcohol or to the wide range of other drugs available, society, which includes the media along with community and kin groups, is likely to judge both the user and their intimates. Rather than the individual receiving assistance without blame, they are often the recipient of scorn, abuse, mistreatment and other forms of cruelty.

Due to this tendency to judge, the user can have a hard time getting into recovery facilities or receiving any funding for healing. This societal attitude can even play into their continued desire to use as they feel socially rejected, their self-esteem eroded by such reactions.

The Self Blames

Along with society's judgments, and in part, due to them, people have been taught to blame themselves or others for their loved one's addiction. Blaming the addict is far from useful but turning to self accusations is pointless. No parent or relationship is perfect. No errors, flaws or mistakes turned the person into an addict. In the end, despite a potential biological predilection to addiction, a person has a choice as to whether they become a user or not.

Unfortunately, by the time they have realized this, it is often too late and their brain has altered, often irrevocably. Regardless, self-recriminations, though they are hard to avoid, only make dealing with an addict more terrible and may increase the co-dependent bond that an addict can thrive on.

Addiction is Incomprehensible

There are a thousand theories of why addicts exist. Some say it's biological; others, that an early lack of nurture is to blame; others that trauma can create the desire to escape through drugs. No one truly knows why addiction exists, as it varies from individual to individual.

Further, the pain of dealing with an addict is compounded by the way the addict's family and friends try to cope with its irrational nature in a rational way. They try to show the addict what they've lost, thinking that this will keep them away from the drug; or perhaps reminders that the user is loved will; or a change of scenery or many other options.

The fact remains that addiction is chemical in nature. Once the brain is altered by a drug, it will crave it. And once the dopamine receptors are inhibited or destroyed, then the user will require the drug to "function." Unless they are removed from the drug for a lengthy period of time and are never able to access it again, the addict will always be seeking his or her fix. Further they may lie, steal, or cause other harm to obtain it. Thinking that rational means will solve the wholly irrational process of addiction only creates more suffering.

Treatments are Confusing

No one knows how best to treat addiction. A vast range of different approaches exist, from tough love, to short or long term detox, to religious conversions. Once again, dependent on the individual, the treatment may work or it might not. The relapse rate for all programs is very high.

Additionally, treatment programs are expensive and usually have long waiting lists. To compound the problem, the user themselves is often recalcitrant, disinterested in entering a program or able to convince those around them that they are fine, that they have recovered on their own, and that they can return to their regular routines. The pain of dealing with an addict is intensified by simply not knowing what to do. There are no straightforward solutions or answers.

Coping with a loved one's addiction is always agonizing. The fact that society judges the addict and their family, that one has a tendency to blame oneself or others for the addiction, that there is no clear origin for the addictive personality and that treatment for addiction is often futile definitely worsens one's outlook on addiction. Being as fair and gentle to oneself as possible is always best while hoping that the addict is able to lift him or herself beyond the chemical distortions in their mind that addiction causes.


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