5 Things You Don’t Know About Drug Addicts
1.Drugs and Alcohol Become Necessary to Live
Despite popular opinion, most people with chronic substance use disorders do not continue using their substance of choice because it’s “fun,” but because they are physically-biologically- addicted to that substance.
Whether it’s heroin, methamphetamine, or cocaine, continued use of these substances alter the structure of the brain, shutting down many functions including neurotransmitters, which are absolutely essential to live a normal life. Once addictive substances alter the structure of the brain, and flood the body with dopamine, the body ceases to produce the neurotransmitter itself. Once this happens, people suffering from addiction no longer have the fundamental abilities to govern their emotions.
The fixation on drugs and alcohol does not stem from the continued “chase of the party” but is a response to return their bodies to normalcy.
2. Many Addicts Want to Stop, But Can’t
In the fervent pursuit of substances of choice, many want to stop, but simply cannot because they lack the proper treatment to safely taper from heroin, codeine, meth, and the like. Stopping cold-turkey fails almost every time. Successful recovery is dependent on high-quality treatment- of which many never get. (Only one out of every ten addicts get help.)
The shame and guilt of what many perceive as a lack of willpower, or the inability to change, is more keenly felt by the ones afflicted. Yet these assertions of self will and perseverance are misguided. Without rehabilitation, there is little hope of recovery; principally because it’s possible for an addict to stop using a substance, but without learning skills surrounding how to live without their substance of choice relapse is inevitable.
“Curing” addiction isn’t merely about abstinence. A recognition of the underlying circumstances of why things went awry is absolutely critical for long term growth and successful recovery.
3. Addictive Substances Are Used to Cover Up Inner and External Conflict
Addiction is a mask. Addiction is a release of things unresolved. Addiction is the result of gnawing wounds grown too large to be silenced. When you look at an addict, instead of seeing someone who “deserves” to be shunned, see them for who they are. Many come from broken homes and families, others have seen horrors no one should bear witness to. It’s true, sometimes addicts lie- but don’t we all?
Negative compulsions become habits, and because we don’t typically want to own up to them, we lie. To our loved ones. To our co-workers. To strangers. To ourselves. Addiction is no different– it is simply on the extreme of the spectrum we refuse to acknowledge as a plea for help.
And those who don’t want help? Perhaps they’re not ready to deal with their demons, or their hopelessness has stripped them of their will to survive. We all know what eventually happens to people who remain untreated. They harm themselves, sometimes others in their mad dash to feel normal- to score.
4. Addiction Is Typically Espoused with a Co-Occurring Disorder
Substance use disorders can certainly be stand-alone conditions, but there are many psychological health conditions perpetuating, and in turn introducing addiction.
5. Foul Words Cut Deep
What do you think when you think about a drug addict? If you’re like most people, your thoughts are unduly cruel and foul. Your thoughts, words, and actions are felt by your own inner peace, and those around you. You have the power to shape your family’s ideas and those of your community; everything we do on an individual level has multiple layers of the ripple effect.
Make sure yours is a positive one. If you don’t like addiction, don’t shun it- don’t close your eyes to it- help be the beacon of light, hope, and solutions. When carelessly crass you do more than perpetuate substance abuse for those who have no hope, you sully your own ability to be effective, and to understand the human condition in its totality.
About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.