Learning more about how an addiction works, and what can be done to quell an addiction, can help you understand when you should intervene and what you should say during that intervention.
Addiction is considered a chronic, relapsing condition in which the person no longer has control over the substance use and abuse.1 When dealing with someone who has an addiction issue, it’s easy to place blame, get angry or feel upset. All of these actions might be normal and even expected, but they’re also at times unhelpful without a call for treatment. No matter how much guilt, anger or punishment the person might face, that addiction might stay in place, unless the proper treatments are provided.
“You can have a better life. I feel a lot better. Because I have my mental issues under control, I can have some control over my addiction. I would not have sobriety if I did not deal with my mental health. These are very much hand-in-hand. It is possible, and you are not alone.” — Adam K., HeroesInRecovery
A Combination of Factors
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors all contribute to a person’s vulnerability to addiction.1 Some factors increase the response the person feels to addictive drugs, causing sensations that might be hard to overcome or forget. Other biological factors cause people to feel different types of sensations to drugs, when compared to people who don’t have these factors. These people might feel elated on some drugs while others feel just tired. These interactions aren’t under the person’s control, of course, but they can be crucial in the development of an addiction.
Similarly, evidence suggests that people who have mental illnesses might be at increased risk of developing addictions. For example, SAMHSA reports that people with mood disorders or anxiety disorders are more likely to develop a drug use disorder, compared to people who don’t have these mental health concerns.2 Once again, this isn’t a factor that the person has control over, but it can have a major impact over the development of addiction.
Addictions begin with a choice. At one point, the person you love chose to pick up a glass of alcohol, load a needle with drugs or prepare a line of drugs to snort. However, once the habit was formed, addiction turns the action into a compulsion rather than a free choice. When there are several factors influencing the likelihood of addiction, the compulsive behavior develops even more quickly.3
When to Step In
You might be tempted to let the person sort out his or her own addiction issue and only step in when the person has hit rock bottom. It’s a common approach, but it can be dangerous and life-altering. Addictions can take a terrible toll, causing the person to experience the following consequences:
- Ruin relationships
- Face law enforcement action
- Destroy physical health
- Impair mental health
There’s no reason to be silent, allowing these terrible consequences to take place, when a few words of encouragement could encourage your loved one to take charge now, before the damage becomes permanent. Consider talking to the person in an open and honest manner about the addiction. Outline the situations you’ve witnessed in which the addiction has spun out of control. Talk about the benefits of treatment, and mention how well treatment works. Encourage the person to enroll.
Real Solutions at The Oaks
At The Oaks at La Paloma, we stand at the ready to help when the person you love is willing.
We offer residential programs, for people who need supervised addiction care, and we provide partial hospitalization services, that allow the person ongoing care when the inpatient program is complete. We focus on offering care to people with a Dual Diagnosis, and our program offers specialty treatment for psychological trauma and other issues that could lead to both mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders. Please call us at our 24 hour, toll-free helpline today to find out more.
1 “Understanding Drug Use and Addiction.” NIDA. August 2016. Web. Accessed 31 July 2017.
2 “Genetics and Epigenetics of Addiction.” NIDA. February 2016. Web. Accessed 31 July 2017.
3 “Co-occurring disorders” SAMHSA. 8 March 2016. Web. Accessed 31 July 2017.