Archive for January, 2013

The people who love and care for those with addictions are constantly placed in the difficult position of deciding how to act. Do you challenge the alcoholic or addict to get help? Do you refuse to help them until they decide to seek treatment? Do you withdraw assistance (money, housing, car, etc.) until they take the steps to get clean & sober.

Support to Stop Enabling

“Enabling” occurs when a friend or family member takes a dysfunctional approach that is intended to help the addict but in fact perpetuates the problem. People often feel great pressure to enable because they fear the addict will hurt himself, lose his job, or become homeless.

As hard as it may be, family and friends must practice “tough love” and encourage the addict to get the help they desperately need. Enabling their behavior only allows the drug or alcohol addiction to continue, increasing the risk of serious or tragic consequences. People in this situation can greatly benefit from the support offered by Al-Anon. These meetings are open to the public and designed to help families of alcoholics or addicts who are struggling to find solutions.

By Michael Campbell

Like any chronic disease, addiction needs to be treated; however, the answers do not lie in quick fixes. Overcoming addiction requires learning the tools, strategies and behaviors that enable someone to manage life without resorting to drugs or alcohol as the easy answer. Help is important, because the addicted person must learn to think, act, and behave differently.

There are many types of treatment, including residential programs (i.e. inpatient facilities). The benefits of residential treatment include keeping the addict in a safe environment, away from triggers to drink or use, and away from access to their drug of choice. It also gives the addict a community with constant monitoring that allows staff to observe and address dysfunctional behavior patterns that are associated with, or reinforce, the addiction.

Family Counseling is crucial in addiction rehabResearch tells us the best results come from an intensive program that helps people better understand their feelings and find new ways of coping with stress, conflict, anger and emotional issues.

To be thorough and effective, treatment should include:

  • Recovery Education to correct old patterns of pessimistic thinking and emotional suppression, and provide important life skills to establish healthy boundaries, manage stress and pain, & improve problem solving and conflict resolution.
  • Individual Counseling to identify and learn to manage co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, etc.
  • Group Counseling to share personal experiences with peers, and learn to appreciate similarities and differences in their beliefs, thoughts and feelings.
  • Family Counseling to educate the family about the disease of addiction, identify unhealthy patterns and begin to develop better family dynamics.
  • 12 Step Groups to interact with those who have struggled with addiction and learned from their personal experiences.
  • Relapse Prevention Groups to identify triggers to drink or use, and to learn which behaviors lead to relapse.

Recovery also requires the discipline to work on staying clean and sober every day. To succeed in treatment, the addict or alcoholic must ignore his pride and the belief; “I can do it on my own.” Success lies in accepting the help and support of others, especially from those currently living a life of recovery…

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

and the Wisdom to know the difference.”

 

By Michael Campbell

People drink and use drugs for a reason; they want to feel different. For many of them that reason is hazy when they first enter treatment. As they detox and their brains begin to heal, they are able to make the connection between life events and their pattern of drinking or using. They see that there were underlying contributing factors that caused them to start, and often there were additional life events that escalated the problem, causing them to drink or use more. They often used their drug of choice to self-medicate and relieve pain.

On a physical level we find that some addicts drink or use to combat fatigue or exhaustion, while others suffer from chronic illness or physical pain. They might rationalize this problematic behavior, telling themselves “it’s ok since the medications were prescribed by a doctor.”

Addict suffering from depression

On a mental level we find that some alcoholics and addicts are depressed and they drink or use to help lift their mood. Others struggle with anxiety due to mental anguish. They may be troubled by constant internal conflict or racing thoughts that prevent their minds from resting. They find that drugs quiet their mind, reducing the constant chatter or negative thought patterns or past memories that are intruding into the present moment.

On an emotional level, many people struggle because they’ve never been taught to acknowledge their emotions and manage them in healthy ways. Some people have suffered from emotional wounding that resulted from divorce, death, abuse or neglect. If they have never dealt successfully with the underlying issues, they may be using alcohol or drugs to bury their emotional pain.

On a social level the factors are often related to shyness, feelings that you don’t belong or fit in, or perhaps an intense level of social anxiety. They may struggle bonding with others, participating in effective communication, or resolving conflicts. Some people become addicted simply because they are curious and naïve, thinking “they’ll just experiment with alcohol or drugs” without any appreciation of how powerfully addicting these substances can be. These people may try an addictive substance because of “peer pressure” or a desire to “fit in” or to “be popular.” Depending on the drug and the genetic predisposition of the person, they may find themselves rapidly addicted.

Whatever the underlying issues, they need to be identified and healed because they exert powerful forces that contribute to patterns of addiction. Until they are addressed and cleared, they will cause an alcoholic or addict to continue to drink or use, or to be at risk of relapse.

By Michael Campbell