For Addicts’ Loved Ones
Addicts use drugs as medicine, while “normies” use them for fun. Because of deepening tolerance, addicts need drugs simply to feel normal.
How do you know if a loved one has crossed the line from fun to abuse? And if he or she has, what can you do about it?
In some cases, the question of whether a loved one is addicted is easier to resolve, as the mounting physical, emotional and legal consequences leave room for no other conclusion. This is particularly the case for “born addicts” who go off the deep end as soon as they have their first drink or drug. Born addicts view drugs as their solution to life, their antidote to the “hole in their soul.” This solution quickly metastasizes into their biggest problem, though they will deny it. It’s easier to identify born addicts if you know what to look for (and if you can get them to be honest enough to admit that drugs were their solution right from the beginning).
But for most people, the slide into addiction is gradual, taking place over a period of years. There’s no easy way to identify the line between use and abuse or when someone crosses it.
There are, however, both behavioral and emotional clues. Behaviorally, daily escalating use, more frequent binges, worsening personal consequences like deteriortaing health, arrests and incarceration are powerful clues. Look for lying, cheating, and stealing, for example. But plenty of non-addicts lie, cheat and steal. The underlying question is why: what motivates these behaviors?
Addicts do what they do because of how they feel. And they feel the way they do because their brains are structurally and functionally different than “normies.” (For more on how they’re different click on the Addiction Science Intro/Menu and, in particular, Why Drugs Can Be Addicting).
So, one unifying aspect of addiction is how addicts feel. If you or someone you love uses drugs regularly and shares the feelings that addicts experience, there’s a good likelihood the line has been crossed. To better understand how addicts feel, click on The Addict Experience.
If you suspect a loved one is an addict, what can you do about it? For more on this subject click on the following:
To access web sites for families and friends click on the links below:
- Alanon and Alateen: http://www.al-anon.org/
- Nar-Anon: http://nar-anon.org/
- Co-Anon (for families of Cocaine Addicts): http://www.co-anon.org/
- Co-Dependents Anonymous: http://www.coda.org/
- National Association for Children of Alcoholics: http://www.nacoa.org/
- Adult Children of Alcoholics: http://adultchildren.org/