Addiction is NOT a Choice
Addiction can happen to anyone. It does not discriminate on gender, race, age, sexual orientation, education, occupation, or social class. It does not make them a bad person and they need YOUR help and support to get better. Understanding their situation without judgment is a key component in helping to support someone with an alcohol or drug dependency.
People do not choose to become addicts; they may become addicts because they self-medicate for undiagnosed issues such as mental health and physical pain. Others are often prescribed potentially addictive medications by doctors for post-operations, pain, anxiety, or sleep, and when they are no longer able to obtain more medication legally, they resort to getting them by other means.
It is important to understand that addiction is a lifelong disease, not a choice. With continued use, brain chemistry is permanently altered, tolerance increases, and frequency and dosing increases. As a result, continued use makes the user feel “normal” and absence of the drug or alcohol can put the body in a state of physical withdrawal.
Addiction is treatable. Proper medical care to address any co-occurring disorders (such as mental health), counseling, and maintaining a healthy and sober environment are key for long-term recovery.
“Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.”
(American Society of Addiction Medicine)
Know the Signs
Hollywood has often portrayed drug and alcohol abusers with a needle in their arm or a bottle in their hand. The reality is that this is rarely the case. People commonly cover up the fact they have a problem. Here are some signs that someone you know may be abusing drugs or alcohol:
Impulsiveness, obsessive thoughts and actions, disregard for harm, denial of use, loss of control, financial problems/instability and borrowing money, difficulty in work or school, change in appetite, disinterest in hobbies and friends, excessive sleeping, stealing from others, sudden new friends and relationships, delusions.
Looking unkempt, dilated or constricted pupils, bloodshot or glassy eyes, excessive body odor, poor coordination, insomnia, covered arms (even in warm weather), noticeable lack of energy, small scabs, constant picking at the body, excessive jerks (tweaks) and shaking, unusual pale-gray skin.
Encourage Them to Get Help
Asking for help is the hardest stage in the process of recovery. It is crucial to be open-minded and accepting during this time. Offer to attend appointments with them if they wish.
Support Recovery as an Ongoing Process
Recovery is lifelong, marked by changing old behaviors, people, places, and things. Relapse is always at risk, but fostering an environment of sobriety, positivity, and support will lessen this risk.
Take Care of Yourself!
Often times, we get so caught up in helping and supporting others that we forget that our own needs are important too. Self-care improves our mood, relationships, and overall health and wellness. Below are 10 tips to help take care of yourself.
- Get enough sleep- wake up energized and ready to take on the day.
- Start every day with a positive mantra- positivity radiates from within.
- Eat healthier foods – if you put good in, your body will thank you.
- Exercise daily- exercise= endorphins= happiness.
- Learn to say “no”- you don’t have to help everyone all the time.
- Get organized- knowing where things are can prevent stress later.
- Take a trip- change up your scenery and breathe in some new air.
- Cook at home- try a new recipe, cook with a family member. You’ll save money and calories by not going out.
- Read a book- temporarily escape to a new world without leaving home.
- Schedule your self-care time- think of it as a doctor’s appointment and stick to it.