What Your Addicted Loved One Needs You To Know But Can’t Tell You
We'd like to thank today's guest author, Lorelie Rozzano of jaggedlittleedges.com who contributed the below article as part of a sponsored collaboration.
As a person in long-term recovery, I look back on my days in active addiction and feel grateful to be alive. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, drug overdoses killed more than 72,000 people in the United States last year. With so many dying, you might wonder why addicted people would continue using.
It seems simple enough.
Stop using, and you won’t die.
But here’s where things get complicated. No one struggling with addiction thinks overdose will happen to them. I certainly didn’t.
Addiction is an illogical, irrational, brain disease. According to the National Institute Of Drug Abuse (NIDA), “addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain. It is considered both a complex brain disorder and a mental illness. Addiction is the most severe form of a full spectrum of substance use disorders and is a medical illness caused by repeated misuse of a substance or substances.”
Addicted persons are in denial and don’t believe they’re sick. Even when I had lost everything, my family, my home, my job, I still thought I was in control. If you love someone struggling with a substance use disorder, you need to know this.
Addiction lies to you in your own voice.
Addiction is a sickness that hides in your mind. It plays out in the way you feel and the things you tell yourself. Every morning I used to wake up vowing not to use drugs or alcohol that day. Within an hour or two I broke that vow. I called myself awful names and concealed my shame by getting high again. ‘One more’ became my mantra. I’d blame other people for the choices I made and find excuses to make getting wasted seem like a reasonable idea. Addiction lied to me in my own voice. Scarier still, my best thinking was killing me.
If you’re doing the right thing, they’ll be mad at you.
Our families are the first place we go when our wallets are empty or when we’re in trouble. We pressure the people who love us into enabling behaviors like giving us money, paying our rent, buying our food and paying off our debt. Addicted persons don’t like the word “no.”
“No” threatens our disease. We cause anxiety in our families through manipulative guilt trips and bullying behavior. We teach our loved ones it’s easier to say “yes” to us than to say “no” and stand your ground.
They need you to make tough decisions for them.
When I first started using drugs and alcohol, it was fun, and I didn’t want to stop. However, the fun never lasts and when I wanted to stop, I couldn’t. I lost the ability to think clearly and fight for my life. I was lucky, my family stepped in and made some tough decisions for me.
The day I went to treatment I thought my life was over, when in fact it had just begun.
If you struggle with addiction or love someone who does, there is hope. To learn more, please call the number below.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance 1-866-780-8539.
Lorelie Rozzano is an internationally recognized author and advocate. She’s in long-term recovery and works in the field of mental health and addiction helping patients and their families regain their health. Lorelie hopes the honesty found in her books, Jagged Little Edges, Jagged Little Lies, Jagged No More and her children’s book Gracie's Secret, will inspire people to reach out for support. To learn more visit jaggedlittleedges.com.