Addiction is a widespread problem in the United States, impacting people from all demographics, backgrounds, and income levels. Unfortunately, some common misconceptions about substance abuse present very real obstacles to those in need of treatment. Education is the first step toward recovery from substance abuse, and this journey is different for everyone.
Learning To Recognize Addiction
When most Americans imagine a person struggling with addiction they tend to refer to common tropes of disorganized people whose lives are in shambles. In reality, many people struggling with addiction display perfectly normal lives. They keep their jobs and may even perform very well in them, pay their bills on time, and appear to be happy, well-adjusted people on the surface. However, they maintain a substance abuse problem hidden from the rest of the world. In many cases, this type of high-functioning substance abuse does not last long. Some may maintain these habits for several years while others will start down the path of high-functioning substance abuse and quickly spiral out of control.
Education can help these individuals realize the gravity of their situations. The first step in recovery from addiction is acknowledging the problem exists, and many people struggle to overcome common misconceptions about substance abuse, believing their situations are not as dire as they truly are.
Identifying Enabling Behaviors
An aspect of addiction where education is invaluable is learning how to identify and stop enabling behaviors. In the substance abuse treatment world, “enabling” refers to any behavior that makes it easier for a person to maintain an addiction. Enabling can take many forms, and the most common enablers are the family members and friends closest to the individual struggling with addiction.
- Paying bills for a person with an addiction who spends all his or her money on drugs or alcohol is enabling because it shields the person from feeling the effects of his or her decisions.
- Giving money to anyone with a substance abuse problem is one of the most common forms of enabling. Early on in an addiction, the addicted person may claim to need money for one-off expenses or unexpected issues, but these situations will start appearing more frequently. If someone in your life is struggling with substance abuse, it is safe to assume any money you give him or her will go toward the drug habit.
- Cleaning and performing household duties, i.e., washing laundry, preparing meals, or even taking care of children and pets for someone with an addiction, is another form of enabling. Friends and family should not let an individual’s immediate family suffer due substance abuse, but neither should they allow the behavior to continue indirectly by covering for that person.
- Lying on behalf of a person struggling with addiction does not help. You may feel tempted to cover for the loved one with an addiction to spare him or her the public embarrassment that often accompanies addiction, but this does not really help.
Identifying and confronting enabling behaviors is one of the most challenging aspects of the recovery process, but it is a necessary one.
Understanding The Consequences Of Addiction
Many Americans do not fully grasp the wide range of possible consequences addiction can have. Educational programs and resources available online can help them better understand the full range of effects that addiction can have on a person’s life.
- Addiction can strain personal relationships. Substance abuse can drive a wedge between spouses, interfere with relationships between parents and children, and alienate family members from one another.
- Maintaining any type of drug habit is expensive, and substance abuse can easily lead to economic ruin.
- Substance abuse can eventually cause a person to become unemployed, creating even more financial instability after he or she wastes money maintaining a habit that led to the loss of employment.
- Substance abuse of any kind can take a heavy toll on the human body, leave an addicted person susceptible to infectious diseases, and create long-term health complications and even disabilities.
- Many people turn to substance abuse in response to traumatic experiences. Not only does this pose significant risks to one’s well-being but also prevents a person from receiving appropriate care and treatment for underlying trauma.
Once a person does the necessary research to learn the full range of possible effects of substance abuse, this could be the wakeup call required to accept the need for treatment.
Learning How To Approach A Loved One’s Substance Abuse
Education is not only important to those struggling with substance abuse but also to their friends and relatives. If you suspect that someone important in your life is dealing with an addiction, it is worth taking the time to research his or her behaviors and find out how you can help. In addition to the online research you can conduct to learn more about substance abuse, you should also consider the potential value of working with a professional interventionist.
Understanding The Value Of An Intervention
Staging an intervention is more complicated than it sounds at first. An intervention is a gathering of the friends and relatives of a person struggling with an addiction. They come together to present a common front and let the subject of the intervention know they are willing to help. A professional interventionist can also be a valuable educational resource and help intervention participants understand the gravity of the situation while also clearing up misconceptions about substance abuse, enabling, and recovery.
If you have a friend or loved one struggling with addiction, education could be the first valuable step you take toward helping him or her recover and achieve lifelong sobriety. If you think an intervention is in order, consider working with a professional interventionist who can help to provide the greatest chance of success.