As a recovering addict, it’s hard to see people I love struggle with addiction. I can certainly relate to having habits that are hard to break. Honestly, addiction is way more than a bad habit or undesirable behavior.
Next week I’m teaching an “Overcomers” class down at a local homeless shelter. I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to talk and teach on concerning this challenging subject. Through my recovery, I have learned that addiction has many facets and even more faces. There is a lot of ground that I can cover, including sharing my own personal experience and testimony. Addiction is a beast that doesn’t let go easily. It’s a daily fight for most of the people I know who, like me, are living in recovery. The addict is often the last one to know that they have a problem. You can’t diagnose another person’s addiction for them. It’s something they must do themselves.
People nowadays are addicted to a wide variety of things. My experience has taught me that it’s not usually just one thing that we’re hooked on. After all, the essence of my addiction lies in the realization that I’m not likely to stop at one of anything. The people I will be speaking to at the addictions class struggle with habits ranging from crack cocaine to pornography and everything in between.
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While their individual addictions may be different, there are commonalities. The habit has taken over our lives and made them unmanageable. We can’t stop under our own power. It’s not a matter of personal willpower, pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, or being determined enough to quit the undesired behavior. By nature, addictions are compulsive. We just can’t get enough, no matter how much or how often we consume. The habit morphs into new levels of lows as we seek new highs. What once did the trick suddenly doesn’t light up our jollies anymore. Things get so bad it seems like only death will stop us.
Can we quit? Yes. Most definitely.
Can we change? Absolutely.
But we need help. We can’t kick these demons on our own. I wish we could. But we can’t. They’ll kill us if we try.
How do I know if someone I love is struggling with addiction? You’ll know. But that doesn’t mean you can do anything about it until they are willing to admit the problem is real and having a negative impact on their life. They got to want it. You can’t want it bad enough for them. I wish you could. But you can’t.
One thing recovery has repeatedly taught me is that I need to be careful when it comes to taking another person’s inventory. I have my own to take care of and making a list of what’s wrong with so-and-so ain’t my job. Sorry. It’s just not.
TWELVE STEPS TO HELP LEAD YOU OUT OF ADDICTION
It’s up to you to decide if knocking back a bottle of wine by yourself or giving up your rent check to visit the dope man is a problem. You must come to the realization on your own that you have a gambling problem, pop too many pain pills, or that you’re addicted to porn. It’s not something me or anyone else can do for you.
The good news is that once you get to where you can admit you have a problem and that your life has become unmanageable as a result, there are people, like me, who can help you.
All you have to do is call.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline
SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.