Turning the tables
This is what I want addicts to know, from the perspective of someone looking from the outside in. I’m able to find post after post of what addicts want us to know, but I have some things I want addicts to know too, and I don’t think I’m the only one who wants the addict to listen for a change.
Before I begin, I’d like to remind you of the warning on my page that talks about this area of my blog. If you haven’t read that first, please click the link for more information before continuing.
With that being said, I’d first like to say addicts come in many forms. There are a few definitions of the word ‘addict’.
The definition from Merriam-Webster is as follows –
The definition from ASAM is a little different, focusing more on the word ‘addiction’ vs ‘addict’ –
Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.
Most of us, when hearing someone being referred to as an addict or having an addiction, think of drugs or alcohol. However, there are many things that can be labeled with those same words.
For example – someone can be addicted to reading, a television show, food, or be referred to as a sports addict, a shopping addict, a coffee addict, etc. I hope you’re understanding my point.
Think about this for a moment. Those in the mental health field are pushing the agenda that addiction is a disease, therefore the sufferer can’t help themselves. It’s out of their control.
If that’s the case, then what they’re inherently saying is that anyone who has an addiction to something, regardless of what it is, has a disease.
What I’m leading into is that I do not believe addiction is a disease. While this is my personal opinion and my personal feelings on this topic, I am not the only one who shares this opinion. In fact, there have even been studies done to back up the idea that addiction is not a disease.
For more information on this subject, there are several sites I recommend checking out. You can find a lot of information regarding addiction, these are just a few I came across that explain the idea of why addiction is not and should not be considered a disease.
Sources for information on the subject of addiction –
Now, I want you all to understand, I am in no way saying that addiction is not a terrible and tragic experience. Nor am I saying an addict doesn’t need help and support in fighting their addiction. I do not want to be misunderstood.
I have dealt with and am continuing to deal with an addict in my life, so I have experience with what it’s like, firsthand. My younger brother is an addict. My family has been watching him sink further and further into addiction and drug use for the past 15 plus years.
He started with alcohol and cocaine. In between that, we really aren’t sure what else he may have used. After some time, he moved on to crack cocaine, and finally, to smoking heroin. It has been very sad and stressful to watch. We have all tried to help and offered help to no avail.
I’m sharing this experience, because this is what I want addicts to know about what their friends, family and children go through.
During the course of his progression, these are just a few of the things my family and I have had to deal with and go through because of his choices and actions.
He is a compulsive liar. It’s such a habit now that we cannot believe anything that comes out of his mouth. He lies even when it’s unnecessary to lie.
He steals. He’s stolen from all of us within his immediate family, as well as friends and strangers. He doesn’t discriminate. If there is a way for him to use you, manipulate you, or charm you, he will do it. Anything you have of value will disappear and be pawned or sold.
He’s set up jobs to do for people, requesting the money for the work up front, and once the money is in his hands, they never see or hear from him again. He’s even stolen from his own children.
We only hear from him if he needs something. As long as he’s got money, food, a ride, and drugs, he doesn’t need anyone. Once he starts running low, he will call us, one by one, until he gets what he needs. He uses one of us, and then moves on to the next. He does this with friends as well. Or at least, the ones who will still have anything to do with him.
He’s hit rock bottom and it didn’t phase him. He’s slept in his vehicle, lost vehicles to title loans, been homeless, and has lost all of his possessions. No matter how low he’s gotten, it doesn’t seem to phase him.
Somehow, he always finds a way out, and manages to con someone new. Those who don’t know him for who he really is are easy targets for him. None of this causes him to decide to get help, change his life, or make better choices.
His children suffer. They hardly see him, and when they do have communication with him, he lies to them. He makes promises he knows he will not keep, and doesn’t do anything for them to speak of.
He manipulates his oldest to make her feel bad for him, and asks her for money with promises to pay her back, which never happens. He has no conscience. He is the only one who matters. His wants and needs are all that matters.
This is what I AM saying
After years of dealing with my brother, as well as watching my family suffer because of his behavior, I am very angry, and rightfully so. No one would help us, no one would help him.
We tried everything, from having him taken to the hospital, to calling the police. Even when they’ve had proof, seen the drug paraphernalia, they did nothing.
Not only that, but he could also go for weeks at a time without drugs, when he didn’t have the money to support his habit. Which to me, spoke volumes – it meant he COULD go without using drugs. To me, this goes against the mainstream idea that addicts can’t stop.
I’ve done a ton of research on the subject of addiction so I could learn more. What I’ve found is pretty upsetting. This is what I want addicts to know, as well as the general public.
I learned some very disheartening things. The reason the medical and mental health field like to classify addiction as a disease, is for nothing more than monetary gain. They profit off of addicts – but only if they’re able to classify it as a disease, or mental illness.
“Saying addiction is a disease suggests that the brain can no longer change…that it’s an end state. But no, it’s not end state.” -MARC LEWIS
There have also been studies that seem to confirm what I believe most of us experience. If an addict is considered and told to have a disease, it means it’s not in their control. This leads to the addict using this theory as a scapegoat. As in, “I can’t help it, I have a disease. It’s not my fault.”
That mentality is leading to less effectiveness in treatment, or even seeking treatment. It’s also leading to relapses, meaning more hospitalizations and treatments needed.
More hospitalizations and more treatment equals more money for those in the mental health and medical field. I find this trend both disturbing and telling, in many ways.
Let’s go over it again, just so I’m clear on what I’m getting at here.
If addiction is classified as a disease, they can then qualify for treatments which for the majority are ineffective. Which will lead to them requiring even more treatment, which will all line the pockets of the medical professionals and mental health centers.
So, who benefits? Certainly not the addict.
What I want addicts to know
I’m writing this for anyone who is an addict, and for those of you who know of or have to deal with an addict. This is what I want addicts to know.
Although there are many different kinds of addictions, in this post, my focus is on drug and alcohol addiction. These are my thoughts and feelings, and I’m going to back them up with common sense and statistics that support how I feel.
You have a choice. Yes, that’s right, a choice. From the very beginning, when you are first introduced to drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc., you have a choice. See, everyone is born with this amazing quality known as free will.
Free will – The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion.
That’s right. You get to choose whether or not to do drugs or alcohol. You can also choose to stop using them. I’m not saying it’s easy, or that you won’t need help. I’m also not saying you won’t fail a few times before you ultimately succeed.
What I am saying though, is that addiction – any addiction – can be overcome. It truly comes down to a matter of how badly you want to overcome this compulsive behavior. It starts with you deciding you want to change the way you’re living your life. By making different choices, better choices. And creating healthier and more positive habits.
Addiction is basically a compulsive behavior, and is just like any other compulsive behavior, such as shopping, exercising, cleaning, etc. Compulsive behaviors are actually a quite common psychological symptom. When people can see exactly what’s happening within their minds that leads them to perform this compulsive act, they can then learn to regularly control it.
Treatment is not required for most people to overcome addiction. Yes, you read that correctly. Treatment IS NOT required to OVERCOME ADDICTION. Moreover, changes made in the brain due to drug or alcohol use are reversible.
In fact, the brain is constantly changing – due to changes in experience, self-motivated changes in behavior, as a result of practice, being in a different environment, and so on. So when addiction is classified as a disease, that classification suggests the brain can no longer change – which is completely false.
If addiction isn’t a disease, then what is it?
In an article on how and why addiction is not a disease, it’s explained quite well.
“First, I’m not saying that addiction is not a serious problem – clearly it can be for many people. In terms of brain change, you could say that neuroplasticity has a dark side. But rather than a disease, I would say that addiction is a habit that grows and perpetuates itself relatively quickly when we repeatedly pursue the same highly attractive goal.
This results in new pathways being built in the brain, which is always the case with learning: new pathways are formed and older pathways are pruned or eradicated.
But with addiction, much of this rewiring is accelerated by the action of dopamine, a neurotransmitter released in response to highly compelling goals, creating an ever-tightening feedback loop of wanting, getting, and loss.
As the addiction grows, billions of new connections form in the brain. This network of connections supports a pattern of thinking and feeling, a strengthening belief, that taking this drug, ‘this thing,’ is going to make you feel better – despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.
It’s motivated repetition that gives rise to what I call “deep learning.” Addictive patterns grow more quickly and become more deeply entrenched than other, less rewarding habits. In general, brain changes naturally settle into brain habits – this is the case in all forms of learning.
In addition, the habits are learned more deeply, locked in more tightly, and are bolstered by the weakening of other, incompatible habits, like playing with your pet or caring for your kids.” – Marc Lewis
– Source, Rehabs.com
Final thoughts –
Ultimately, what I want addicts to know, and what I hope will be learned by sharing this, is that we all have so much more power than we think we do. We get to decide our fates. We get to choose our paths. Choose to love yourself, you are worth it, no matter what you’re going through.
If you fall, it’s ok. But don’t stay there. Make the choice to stand up, most importantly for yourself, but for your loved ones as well. For those of you who love an addict, be there for them. Let them know you will help them through this, and stay positive. Have them read this post, show them that it CAN be done, they CAN fight back – and WIN the fight.