Loved ones and family members of addicts face a number of challenges. Watching someone you care about struggle with addiction is a very stressful and trying situation. Most loved ones of addicts face feelings of anger, guilt, and, of course, concern for the addict.
Many people close to an addict knows that enabling is only helping to feed their addiction, but the reality is that ceasing to enable someone is a little more complicated than it seems. Many loved ones fear that without their support, the addict will spiral even further into poverty and the other repercussions of their unhealthy decisions. Here are six tips on how to stop enabling.
1. Stop giving the addict money for rent and other bills.
This is the step that many enablers struggle with the most. No one wants their loved ones to be in danger of losing vital life elements. Addicts are often aware of this and frequently manipulate those who love them by playing on their concerns.
In many cases, money that an addict receives for bills is spent on their addiction. Even if money is legitimately spent on rent, helping an addict with their financial obligations prolongs the time before they reach “rock bottom,” or the moment they realize their life has become unmanageable.
2. Stop making excuses for the addict.
“Covering” for an addict by making excuses for why they are not at social or other functions can be very dangerous because giving an addict an out allows them to continue living under the assumption that they are functioning.
Making excuses for an addict may seem like saving them from embarrassment, but the best thing you can do for them is to help them realize they have a problem as quickly as possible.
3. Do not pick up slack for an addict.
Most addicts begin to exhibit major dips in their ability to keep their lives organized. The basic tasks of day to day living become secondary to their more pressing desire to procure more drugs or alcohol.
Cooking or cleaning for an addict may seem like small favors, but helping out in even these small ways only gives them a distorted sense of stability.
4. Do not accompany the addict while they are engaging in addictive behavior.
Whether it’s having a glass of wine with them or going with them to buy a lottery ticket, being in the presence of an addict while they are engaging in addictive behavior sends a message to them that their behavior is somewhat acceptable. Make it clear to the addict that you are not comfortable with their actions.
5. Keep in mind that you are doing what you can to help the addict.
Most enabling comes from a place of love. You are just trying to help your loved one stay safe. In reality, however, the best way you can help them is by doing what you can to get them to realize that they have a problem and need to seek help as soon as possible.
Cindy Nichols is an addiction specialist and specializes in Xanax recovery at Recovery Now TV.
Although our world is becoming more tolerant of differences among people, prejudice and discrimination are still far too common.
The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, community has endured years of unfair inequality that lends itself to a whole host of negative effects and life consequences. Health care professionals have continued to see more overall drug abuse in the last decade, but the popularity of the drug, crystal meth in particular, has grown exponentially among the LGBT population.
Increase In Diagnosis Rate
The diagnosis of mental illness has increased among people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Depression is the most common mental illness among those who suffered years of shame, embarrassment, ridicule, and self-loathing because of their sexual orientation. Anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, are also common mental illnesses within the LGBT community.
When anybody has difficult and painful emotions that seem unmanageable, human behavior is too seek a way of coping to make it through each day. Substance abuse is a standard approach to that coping process because drugs and alcohol appear to take away painful memories, discomfort in the moment, and feelings of low self-worth or self-esteem. The escape is only temporary though, and the use of substances only leads to negative life consequences when left untreated.
Recent studies have shown that the use of crystal meth among the gay community has risen in recent years. The desire to self-medicate has lead many people, especially gay men, to the stimulant drug that does great damage to the brain and body.
In an effort to treat the symptoms of a mental illness, whether recognized as a diagnosable illness or not, members of the gay community are self-medicating with crystal meth. The progression from drug use to abuse, dependence, and addiction presents a diagnosable illness. When a substance abuse disorder is appropriate and a mental illness, or eating disorder, can also be diagnosed, the individual is said to be dual diagnosis. Two or more diagnoses require concurrent treatment of all symptoms for the person to have a high chance of recovery.
Where The Problem Comes From
The root of the problem, frequently the symptoms of depression, have never been addressed. The gay man, for example, who has endured repeated disrespect and hate for his sexual orientation, may have been experiencing the symptoms of depression since childhood. If he was never exposed to a mental health assessment or help, he possibly grew up thinking that his symptoms were common and that he had to deal with them on his own. When introduced to crystal meth, he may have felt better, believing he had found the cure to his symptoms.
Treating the Problem
Crystal meth, or any other drug including alcohol, is not a cure for depression, and it will actually only worsen the effects of any mental illness. The drug is highly addictive drug and takes work to mentally, emotionally, and psychologically separate from your life once dependence has developed. Formal treatment is necessary for those dually diagnosed with a mental illness and crystal meth addiction.
The increased dual diagnosis prevalence in the gay community needs to be addressed, and is being treated by dual diagnosis treatment centers, some LGBT specialized, throughout the country.
Dealing with a drug addiction in any case can be devastating and overwhelming for family, friends and loves ones of anyone who has ever faced a severe dependency on drugs, alcohol or any substance. If you believe that a loved one of yours is struggling with drug addiction, there are a few ways to spot symptoms and to determine whether or not he or she may need assistance with overcoming the abuse. Understanding the various ways of spotting a drug addict can mean the difference between finding your loved one the help they need to live a longer, healthier and ultimately, happier life.
Withdrawal and Avoidance
When someone is addicted to any type of drug, they may find ways to avoid family and friends to keep from being questioned, criticized or even confronted about their usage. If you notice a loved one has recently stopped seeing his or her family by avoiding them or making excuses to not attend functions and events, this can be a sign of drug addiction along with depression. Many drug addicts create excuses to allow themselves to continue the dangerous patterns and behaviors, often leaving family and friends in the dark about their situation.
Drug addicts may lie to get out of seeing loved ones or to friends when they are feeling in need of the drugs or substances they frequently use. Lying is a common sign of drug addicts, especially those who also exhibit physical symptoms of drug abuse.
Some physical symptoms that are most common with those who are addicted to drugs include shaking, itching and scratching and even marks between the fingers and toes, especially when using needle-based substances. Some drug addicts may shake and physically scratch themselves when they are no longer in possession of the drug they are addicted to, making it obvious to those around them that they are addicted to a substance. When a drug addict is experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms, he or she may also exhibit nausea, excessive sweating and even vomiting while also feeling physical pain depending on the substance that is being used.
Additionally, drug addicts may exhibit odd and shady behavior to friends and family members when they are trying to cover up their addiction to drugs, alcohol or any type of pill or substance that they may be abusing. Odd behavior can also include lying, leaving events early or even avoiding loved ones altogether simply to fulfill the drug addict’s feeling of need when it comes to using the drugs or alcohol.
If you have found drugs around your home or in spots that are hidden from plain sight, this may be a sign that one of your family members or loved ones is addicted to a drug. Drug addicts often have secret hiding spots to keep their drugs, alcohol or pills out of common view from others to keep from raising suspicion. Drug addicts may hide their drugs between mattresses, above ceiling tiles, in pillows and even under floorboards depending on the severity of their dependence and the type of drug they are abusing. Knowing the hiding spots of the drug addict you are trying to help is one of the first steps to confronting them of the problem to assist them with getting clean for good.
Laura Nelson is a substance abuse counselor and contributor at BestRehabCounselingDegrees.com, a site with a wealth of information about online counseling degree programs.
“Am I a social pot user or a marijuana addict?” Sound familiar? You are definitely not alone. Weed seems to be the least defined drug, if it is even categorized that way.
One aspect of a substance being dangerous to even experiment with and use recreational is that it can be habit forming. The definition of addiction helps, but we will get to that.
With marijuana, the debate continues: is pot physically addictive the way drugs like heroin and methamphetamine are additive? Is marijuana psychologically addictive? Does it change the user’s brain chemistry? Are you negatively affected by your pot use?
What you need to ask yourself is, how is my marijuana use affecting my life?
The Science of Marijuana author and University of Cambridge in England professor of pharmacology, Leslie L. Iverson, sites that between 10% and 30% of regular marijuana users will develop a dependency on the drug, and only around 9% will develop an addiction to the naturally-growing substance.
So, what constitutes a dependency, and an addiction to marijuana?
For many substances, the presence of withdrawal symptoms when the user stops the drug’s use indicates a physical dependence, and therefore, a possible addiction to the substance. Even top researchers in the field, like Professor Iverson, report that weed does not have withdrawal symptoms that cause much disruption in the user’s life.
Heroin, and other opiate drugs, mainly prescription pills like Vicodin and Percocet, create an intensely painful withdrawal after just a day or two of cessation from the drug. When someone stops marijuana use, irritability and anxiety can occur, but not to the extent that an individual needs to be medically-monitored, as in the case of opiates, and alcohol.
Without withdrawal symptoms, what else can determine the addictive potential of marijuana?
Let’s now explore the definition of addiction, or the factors that indicate an addiction.
First of all, addiction is a progressive disease, so one way to tell if you are a social pot user versus a marijuana addict is: do you smoke a lot more weed now than you did when you first started using? Progressive means that you gradually needed more and more of the substance to experience the same high, or other effects of the drug.
Next, addiction is characterized by:
If we take those one by one, you should be able to determine whether your level of marijuana use is social, or that of an addict.
1. A loss of control over use means that you intend on lessening the amount of weed you are going to smoke each day, but it just never seems to happen. You find yourself smoking, even when you don’t really want to, and maybe when you would rather be doing other activities.
2. An obsession with use is happening when you cannot think of anything else other than getting high. Maybe you are in school, or at work, and you cannot concentrate; your mind has become obsessed with the idea of smoking marijuana and nothing else matters in that moment.
3. Have your grades dropped? Have you lost a job, or a friend or family member? Do you have a criminal record because of weed possession? A despite one or more of these negative consequences, do you continue to smoke marijuana?
4. Denial a major problem with addiction. Even when someone who cares about an addict points out that there is clearly a problem with substance abuse, an addict will deny that the drug is having any adverse impact on his or her life.
5. With addiction, and any length of sobriety, there is always a high likelihood for relapse. Have you stopped smoking pot for a period of time, but you find yourself going back to its use each time?
Treatment for social pot use or full-blown marijuana addiction, on any level, is available so that you are not living your life around a drug.
Marissa Maldonado is director of outreach at Sovereign Health dual diagnosis treatment, a center helping people with behavioral health and substance abuse issues.
For men and women everywhere, the news that drug abuse negatively affects sexual performance long-term, even after an extended amount of abstinence from the drug or drugs, is attention-catching.
Although previously thought to recover after a length of not using drugs and alcohol, it is now being proven that sexual performance can be impacted for a long time after substance abuse. A study of 905 men included 549 who had been diagnosed as addicted to either alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, or several substances at the same time, but who had now been abstinent from all substances for an average of one year. The remaining 356 men were used as the control group.
The results found that the areas of sexual desire, sexual satisfaction, arousal, and orgasm were negatively impacted by the man’s previous substance abuse when compared with the 356 men who had not previously been addicted to drugs or alcohol.
What The Study Revealed:
That study’s implication: substance abuse and addiction at any time in a man’s life will continue having an adverse effect on his sexual performance. The study also explored the impact of each substance on sexual performance. The Journal of Sexual Medicine ran the results of the study, conducted at the University of Granada and Santo Tomas University in Colombia. The use of cocaine or the speed-ball technique, the combination of heroin and cocaine mixed together and injected as a single shot, was shown to greatly affect sexual pleasure possibilities while only slightly affecting sexual desire. During high use times, cocaine abusers and addicts actually have heightened sexual desire.
Sexual arousal is shown to be most affected by the use of, abuse of, and addiction to alcohol, and the ability to orgasm is most impaired by cocaine, heroin, alcohol, and speed-ball abuse. Mainly drugs that have an effect on serotonin production, release, and re uptake influence the four areas of sexual performance. Prescription drugs, and more specifically antidepressants, that work by increasing the level of serotonin in the body and brain, mimic the part of you that would naturally realize that it needs to release more serotonin. For whatever the reason at the time, the body or brain feels that an event in your life is in need of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, so the supply of the chemical is increased and you feel better. Your mood improves.
Drugs & Serotonin:
The same thing happens when you take a drug that does what the body and brain can normally do on its own. When there is a false, unnatural chemical tells your system to up the amount of serotonin available to you, the natural system does not know when it is needed. A break in this system causes the user to feel that only the drug that has been triggering the serotonin release can make them happy, and make them feel good. Without, it the individual’s mood feels extra low.
As the prescription drug, illegal drug, or alcohol elevates the user’s mood, its effects also seem to be triggering, or stimulating, other neurotransmitter receptors that cause a decrease in the libido, or sex drive, of that same user. So, not only is sexual performance at the time of intoxication impaired, but we now know that many areas of healthy sexual functioning are forever negatively influenced by drug and alcohol abuse.
It seems common knowledge that at the time of alcohol intoxication, or during a high from drug use, sexual desire is heightened. Drugs like ecstasy and cocaine are notorious for having an aphrodisiac impact, but now the very appeal of the drug is what will negatively affect sexual performance in the long-run.
What does this mean for the millions of men and women who have used and abused drugs and alcohol at some point in their lives? What can be done?