The Myth Of The Addictive Personality
The recently deceased writer and television personality Anthony Bourdain was criticized by some for recreationally using alcohol and cannabis, in what was seemingly a very controlled and responsible manner, decades after he quit heroin and cocaine. Was this a valid criticism? Can a person who was addicted to drugs or alcohol in their teens safely have a glass of wine with dinner in their middle age?
It depends on which model of addiction and recovery you subscribe to. If you are a traditionalist who believes that addictions last a lifetime, that people readily substitute addictions, and that people have ingrained addictive personalities, the answer is: absolutely not. This would be playing with fire.
I learned early in my own recovery how critical it is to apply logic and evidence to the field of addiction, and that just because things make sense, and because we have thought about them in a certain way for an extended period of time, that doesnt mean that they are necessarily true. While in rehab, I was actually told a lot of other things that turned out to have no basis in scientific evidence. For example, I was told on a daily basis that a drug is a drug is a drug. This mentality doesnt allow for there being a difference between, for example, the powerful opiate fentanyl, which kills thousands of people every year, and buprenorphene which is a widely-accepted treatment for opioid use disorder.
What Are The Principles Of Effective Treatment
Research shows that when treating addictions to opioids , medication should be the first line of treatment, usually combined with some form of behavioral therapy or counseling. Medications are also available to help treat addiction to alcohol and nicotine.
Additionally, medications are used to help people detoxify from drugs, although detoxification is not the same as treatment and is not sufficient to help a person recover. Detoxification alone without subsequent treatment generally leads to resumption of drug use.
For people with addictions to drugs like stimulants or cannabis, no medications are currently available to assist in treatment, so treatment consists of behavioral therapies. Treatment should be tailored to address each patient’s drug use patterns and drug-related medical, mental, and social problems.
Ways To Help A Recovering Alcoholic
Educate Yourself On Addiction And Recovery
Addiction and alcoholism are very complex, and recovery is one of the greatest challenges of most individuals lives. The best way a loved one can help an addict is to educate themselves on the many aspects of addiction and recovery, such as potential triggers, health issues, enablement, the recovery process, and the psychological changes that addiction causes. Loved ones will find it much easier to relate to and assist a recovering addict if they understand addiction, and they will also be much better equipped to help prevent relapse.
Understand And Prepare For Extended Problems
Addiction creates many lasting problems, both for addicts and their loved ones. While sobriety will improve all of them, many will still be present during recovery. Financial problems are common, especially as the recovering addict tries to rebuild their career and pay off addiction related debts such as DUI expenses. Health problems caused by addiction are some of the most serious, and some, such as HIV, are permanent. Relationship problems can be the most painful it can take years to rebuild trust, and in some cases, it just isnt possible. Additionally, relapse is always a possibility, even after many years. Understanding and preparing for these problems will make it easier to deal with them and lessen their impact.
Dont Hold Unreasonable Expectations
Make Changes To Support Sobriety
Dont Go So Far That Youre Unfair To Yourself
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Will I Be An Addict For Life
Theres a saying among the Alcoholics Anonymous community that goes like this: Once an addict, always an addict. And this saying exists for good reason. Many people, including experts, believe that once a person has struggled with addiction, they will always be vulnerable to the illness even after many years of sobriety. So, its a fair question to ask of yourself Will I be an addict for life? But, by keeping this saying in mind, a person in recovery is more likely to remain diligent in their recovery. Looking at the disease you are suffering from in addiction with clear eyes is vital. Achieving and maintaining sobriety can be a challenge. However, at Westwind Recovery®, we believe in you. Were certain you can overcome addiction and learn to be diligent and healthy.
There Is Nothing You Can Do To Stop The Avalanche Whether You Are In A Rehab Or Quietly Dealing With Your Issues At Home There Is Only One Real Solution Acknowledge Its Existence And Offer Your Friendship
During the last decade I have been a therapist at some of the most renowned treatment centers in the world. I have worked with addiction to sex and drugs and rock n roll. I have treated porn addiction, love and relationship addicts, and husbands addicted to cheating. I have worked with technological addiction, social media addicts, and wives addicted to their work. I have helped gambling addicts, alcoholics, and patients with a number of food related addictions. No matter the type of addiction, the energy is the same. It radiated from the same archetypal source and followed a distinct pattern of obsessive thinking punctuated by compulsive behavior. Many of these addicts attempted to ignore this energy and maintain their secretly unbalanced lives. The energy thrived, yet they never tried to understand its origins. This was their downfall.
I encourage you to give your addiction a name. Imagine what it looks like. Invite it over for coffee and conversation. You will be amazed that a small amount of recognition and positive attention will transform your relationship to it. Your addiction will surrender and no longer control you. Your addiction will become your ally. Peace will be restored in your psyche.
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Once An Addict Always An Addict : Is This True
The saying once an addict always an addict is one that many people believe is true, but this does not always have to be the case. Drug addiction does not mean that your life is ruined, or that you will always be an addict. Substance abuse does not have to mean the end of your career, family life, or other areas in your life. If you have a problem with drugs or alcohol you do not have to just learn to live with the issue. There is help available for drug addiction that is permanent, and can restore your life once and for all.
Most substance abuse rehab programs and facilities have high relapse rates, and many patients end up needing treatment again and again. This leads to the belief that drug addiction can not be cured, only managed, and that relapse will occur no matter what. This belief is false, and it is possible to live free from addiction and restore your life with the right treatment. Drug addiction is caused by trauma and invisible wounds on the inside, wounds that are both psychological and spiritual, and dealing with these factors using the right treatment methods can help heal these wounds so you have a permanent recovery.
Im Sober But Am I Still An Addict
We use descriptors every day to define ourselves in the world and to describe who we are in relation to others. Many of the words we use speak to identities, relationships, and commitments that we have, and a lot of the time, its easy to share about these parts of ourselves. But for those of us in recovery, knowing how to define ourselves in our journey, and knowing what to share or what not to share, can be a little bit more complicated.Two prominent viewpoints have emerged:
Once an Addict, Always an Addict
Free of Addiction, Free of That Label
Reflect on What Fits Best for You
What is the most supportive way for you to define yourself?Moving forward, would keeping your history with addiction and recovery journey as a focal point be best for you, as you navigate your life moving forward? Or, do you want to close the door on your addiction, and keep it as a part of your past that you have learned from, and let go?
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How Do Behavioral Therapies Treat Drug Addiction
Behavioral therapies help people in drug addiction treatment modify their attitudes and behaviors related to drug use. As a result, patients are able to handle stressful situations and various triggers that might cause another relapse. Behavioral therapies can also enhance the effectiveness of medications and help people remain in treatment longer.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy seeks to help patients recognize, avoid, and cope with the situations in which they’re most likely to use drugs.
- Contingency management uses positive reinforcement such as providing rewards or privileges for remaining drugfree, for attending and participating in counseling sessions, or for taking treatment medications as prescribed.
- Motivational enhancement therapy uses strategies to make the most of people’s readiness to change their behavior and enter treatment.
- Family therapy helps people with drug use problems, as well as their families, address influences on drug use patterns and improve overall family functioning.
- Twelve-step facilitation is an individual therapy typically delivered in 12 weekly session to prepare people to become engaged in 12-step mutual support programs. 12-step programs, like Alcoholic Anonymous, are not medical treatments, but provide social and complementary support to those treatments. TSF follows the 12-step themes of acceptance, surrender, and active involvement in recovery.
Does Relapse To Drug Use Mean Treatment Has Failed
No. The chronic nature of addiction means that for some people relapse, or a return to drug use after an attempt to stop, can be part of the process, but newer treatments are designed to help with relapse prevention. Relapse rates for drug use are similar to rates for other chronic medical illnesses. If people stop following their medical treatment plan, they are likely to relapse.
Treatment of chronic diseases involves changing deeply rooted behaviors, and relapse doesnt mean treatment has failed. When a person recovering from an addiction relapses, it indicates that the person needs to speak with their doctor to resume treatment, modify it, or try another treatment.52
While relapse is a normal part of recovery, for some drugs, it can be very dangerouseven deadly. If a person uses as much of the drug as they did before quitting, they can easily overdose because their bodies are no longer adapted to their previous level of drug exposure. An overdose happens when the person uses enough of a drug to produce uncomfortable feelings, life-threatening symptoms, or death.
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The Definition Of An Addict
There are actually two different types of addicts. There are recovered or recovering addicts and active addicts.
Recovering addicts are those who are not currently using drugs or alcohol. They may have a short or a long history of substance abuse. However, they have gone through treatment and are working toward abstaining for life.
Active addicts are those who are currently using drugs or alcohol. The vast majority of active addicts live their lives in denial. They dont believe they have a substance abuse problem at all. They certainly dont believe they need to be treated for their addictions.
The question is, should recovering addicts still be called addicts? Those who say no have very strong views on the subject.
What Is The Physical Impact Of Addiction
Addictions cause a chemical effect in the brain. Taking or partaking in the addiction will release what are sometimes called happy hormones such as serotonin, dopamine and endorphins.
If someone doesnt like the way they are feeling, they will increasingly turn to what they have discovered will change how they feel. This high and the fact that it masks painful or unbearable feelings can soon result in the addiction.
It becomes a habit. But its like digging a hole into a deeper, darker and colder place.
Over time though the amount of whatever it is will most often need to be increased. This is because its physical effects will get more tolerated by the body so the dose or usage needs to be upped to get the same results that were originally found to work.
As well, just because someone is using such as alcohol or to repress something like a trauma doesnt mean it will have gone away. In fact it wont and these things tend to get bigger inside us as they keep attempting to rise to the surface of our consciousness.
In desperation a person who is addicted to one thing will up it or increase the amount of time they spend on that addiction. They may look to try something else as well, which is why so many addicts suffer from cross addiction.
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Why The Once An Addict Phrase Is Actually Harmful To Those In Recovery
Shame Think about it: If someone buys into the OAAA adage, they will forever have to label themselves an addict, a label that comes with a lot of additional negative weight”lazy, powerless, hopeless, loser, untrustworthy.” Given that stance, they will be less likely to seek help for their problematic drinking, drug use, or porn use for fear of being labeled or shamed by those they love. Dr. John Kelly, a noted addiction expert says that “people who feel more stigmatized are less likely to seek treatment, even if they have the same level of addiction severity,” and that “they’re also more likely to drop out of treatment if they feel stigmatized and ashamed.”
Why? Because no matter what you accomplish, if you buy into OAAA you have a sense that you will always be required to wear this coat of condemnation. Many people dont even want to try recovery because they dont want to fail. Those that do will likely relapse, sending them into a pit of shame and blame.
OAAA keeps us feeling powerless and small Because of the condemning rhetoric of AAs tenets, I not only felt shame about my slip-up but truly believed I was powerless over my addiction. This belief kept me feeling small and stuck long afterwardseven after I started pursuing my graduate degree in psychology. The term “addict” alone contributes to this as shown in a great study by Robert Ashford.
Can You Ever Actually Break An Addiction
The term break an addiction is one that is used frequently in the addiction world. Both addicts and addiction professionals use it. The question is, is it really possible to do?
People who have turned their backs on their addictions without relapsing would say yes. Others would argue that if they did, they never truly had an addiction in the first place.
This is an argument that has gone on for years, and it will probably still continue for years to come. For those who have broken their addictions, it makes them feel good to know that. There is a sense of empowerment that comes with the thought of having overcome an addiction.
Even so, what most would agree is that they have overcome their active addictions. If they were to relapse, it could be detrimental for them. If the individual is an actual recovered addict, one use could undo years of progress.
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What Medications And Devices Help Treat Drug Addiction
Different types of medications may be useful at different stages of treatment to help a patient stop abusing drugs, stay in treatment, and avoid relapse.
- Treating withdrawal. When patients first stop using drugs, they can experience various physical and emotional symptoms, including restlessness or sleeplessness, as well as depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Certain treatment medications and devices reduce these symptoms, which makes it easier to stop the drug use.
- Staying in treatment. Some treatment medications and mobile applications are used to help the brain adapt gradually to the absence of the drug. These treatments act slowly to help prevent drug cravings and have a calming effect on body systems. They can help patients focus on counseling and other psychotherapies related to their drug treatment.
- Preventing relapse. Science has taught us that stress cues linked to the drug use , and contact with drugs are the most common triggers for relapse. Scientists have been developing therapies to interfere with these triggers to help patients stay in recovery.
Dont Take My Word For It Take Gods Word For It
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
Notice that sentence ends in an exclamation point. It was stated with excitement. God is excited about your new life and He desires to put your old life behind you. You are new! We cant pursue wholeness in Christ and call ourselves addicts at the same time. It contradicts what God says about us.
Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow Isaiah 1:18
God didnt create a lottery and randomly pull names out to say, Only you get to be washed white as snow. No, He claims that for all who claim Him drug addicts, prostitutes, porn addicts, workaholics, co-dependents, people pleasers
We cant pursue wholeness in Christ and call ourselves addicts at the same time.
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Stop Calling Yourself An Addict
Weve all known someone whos dealt with cancer. Maybe its you. Walk through this with me for a second. You go to the doctor and he diagnoses you with cancer. Perhaps God miraculously heals you, or He uses modern medicine such as chemo and radiation. You go for your one year check-up and the doctor says, Youre cancer free.
Do you still tell people you have cancer or do you proclaim, Im cancer free. Of course you pick option two.
The same applies to our struggles with addiction.
So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:36 NLT
You are not who your addiction tries to say you are. You are a new creation. You are free. Stop calling yourself an addict and walk in the grace and freedom God is pouring into your life.