It can be hard for someone to understand your situation when they have never experienced what you have gone or are going through. With that being said, explaining addiction to someone is a wildly complicated task. When family members confront you about your alcohol addiction it can be difficult to find the right words to say and it is hard to prepare yourself for this part of your journey. This article is going to guide you in answering those tough questions asked by your loved ones. It is hard to avoid talking about your addiction because it is often the best way to repair relationships that have been hindered. Talking about your addiction is a good thing, it helps break the stigma around addiction, promotes open communication and the development of trust. If you have not yet gotten questioned about why you let alcohol control your life or how you let this happen, you will, and it is important you know how to respond.
Why did you choose alcohol over me
Every person on Earth could be well aware that addiction is a disease and someone would still feel obligated to say that the addict chose to start drinking which caused this result. This topic can be convoluted for many as it is something most people do not have vast knowledge on but is also important to encourage education on addiction in hopes of breaking the stigma. Addiction is a sensitive topic for both addicts and those affected by the addict. When people you love and care about start to question your relationship with them compared to your addiction, it really hurts. So, how do we answer these difficult questions? When you child wonders if you love vodka more than them or when your husband doesn’t understand why you are so distant from him but so close to the wine, these concerns all arise out of the same emotions. When your family is feeling hurt, resentful, angry and confused regarding your addiction, you often will feel guilty, defensive, or frustrated. Recovering alcoholics know the facts about addiction and know the most about their own addiction yet often come up short when trying to explain their actions.
How to answer these questions
When you respond to questions regarding your addiction it is important to remember that your addiction has affected more people than just yourself. You must make your loved one’s emotions and concerns feel heard and valid. A great way to do this is to address that you understand that your disease is hurting them while also explaining that your addiction is not your choice. We have come up with three responses to the hard-hitting questions your family asks that will get your point across without being defensive or insensitive:
I do not choose to be an addict, it is like any disease that needs support and treatment. Although it may seem that my drinking is more important to me than our relationship, it is not. I would never choose alcohol over you and I would love your support during this time.
I would never choose to be addicted to alcohol and I would never choose alcohol over you. I am an alcoholic because of how my brain has been wired. Yes, I chose to drink but I did not know it would lead to the inability to stop drinking. This disease has impacted my entire life and the only way I can control it is to abstain from alcohol.
Addiction is a chronic disease, like cancer or diabetes. This disease has disturbed the functions of my brain and how it responds to stress, reward and self-control. Like other chronic diseases, I need treatment and support because this requires long term management. I would never choose alcohol over you, especially because I know how much it has impacted you.
Hopefully one of these responses can help make a difficult conversation a little easier because the people in our lives that love and care about us deserve a proper response to their concerns. Having these discussions will create more knowledge and awareness around addiction, therefore, reducing the stigma. Most importantly, being able to respond to the questions about choosing family over alcohol will allow you and your family to be on the same page regarding your addiction. When your family tries to understand where you are coming from and you do the same, it can help sustain your relationship throughout your addiction journey.
Being in a close relationship with an addict can be difficult – even if you’re unaware that the person you’re seeing is addicted to drugs. Drug users are crafty and can be very good at hiding their addiction from even those who are very close to them.
Unfortunately, even those drug addicts who are very good at hiding their addiction aren’t able to remove the influences of their addictions from their relationships. Emotional issues and domestic problems are often commonplace when a drug addict is taking part in a close relationship, and even when these issues are absent, it can be tough to develop a sustained relationship.
In this article, we’re going to discuss how drug addicts behave during relationships. If you’re already aware that your partner is struggling with an addiction, this can help you understand why your partner behaves the way that they do. If you have suspicions, then this could help you determine whether or not your partner has been hiding a drug addiction – and, if you’re reading this as an addict, you might learn a thing or two about how your addiction might be influencing your partner.
Are You Dating a Drug Addict?
It can be hard to know for sure whether or not you’re dating a drug addict. Unless your partner is unashamed and very open about their addiction, or otherwise very bad at covering it up, chances are it can be difficult to discern if they’re addicted or not.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you’re harboring suspicions, it’s certainly worth looking into – not just for your well-being but for the health and safety of your addicted partner.
There are several things that could indicate that your partner is using or abusing drugs and trying to hide it from you. These things can include:
Frequently spending more money than they intended to, dipping into shared savings, or having finances disappear that can’t be accounted for.
Going out for extended periods without having anything planned, or going out for short intervals frequently to ‘meet a friend,’ or do some quick errand.
Coming back from hanging out with a friend or finishing an errand in a different state of mind or acting differently than they did before.
Being sick frequently, especially in the morning, or experiencing symptoms of withdrawal, which can include sniffling, sneezing, excessive yawning, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and anxiety. Keep in mind that these symptoms could be indicative of a cold or mental health problem; however, repeated and incessant physical symptoms in combination with some of these other issues might indicate withdrawal.
Noticing track marks on the skin, usually on the forearm. Some addicts prefer to inject in areas that cannot be seen by others easily, such as on the thighs.
Finding bits of tinfoil, small baggies or syringe tips in the garbage.
Changes in sleep patterns. If your spouse frequently stays up overnight or until extremely late hours, this could indicate that they are using stimulants.
Eating changes. If your partner goes days without eating this could also indicate the use of stimulants.
Getting sick every time that you go on an outing, on vacation, or away from town for more than a day.
All of these things could suggest that your partner is using drugs; however, it’s important not to make any assumptions. Bringing the idea up from a place of kindness and compassion is the best way to address it. Attacking or accusing drug addicts may make them defensive, and if your partner isn’t using drugs, this could be taken as extremely offensive.
The Addict’s Relationship With Drugs
One other thing to consider is the fact that drug addicts in relationships are actually trying to maintain two relationships – one with themselves, and one with the drugs. This is also usually an indication of a fractured relationship with themselves.
Individuals with strong, healthy relationships with themselves tend not to abuse drugs. This means that if you’re seeing a drug addict, you may be seeing someone who does not understand or love themselves as much as they could. This can be problematic and can make it hard to develop a strong foundation for a relationship.
Regardless of their relationships with themselves, drug users who are dependent on their drug of choice have to maintain a solid relationship with their addiction. This generally takes precedence over any other relationships in their lives, be they romantic, familial, or friendships.
When someone is dependent on drugs, their priorities relate to drugs. They will, quite literally, get sick if they do not get their drugs.
What this entails is that they will prioritize obtaining drugs and getting money for drugs above all else, unless they’re in a situation where it’s safer and better for their credibility to risk withdrawal in order to hide their drug use. This can lead to them seeming negligent, missing appointments, or being emotionally unavailable for you.
In fact, many drug users may have difficulty managing their emotional health – especially in a relationship. Drugs are notorious for interfering with a person’s ability to cope with their emotions, and drug addicts are often prone to irrational outbursts, passive aggression, depression, anxiety, and other issues that can make it difficult for the two of you to get along.
This can be understood by simply recognizing the way that people tend to project their emotional reality onto those that they are close with. The edge, you can only love someone as much as they love themselves, rings true here.
In most cases, people who are truly intimate with themselves aim to be healthy and happy without the aid of substances. Drug addicts who begin to understand themselves emotionally and intimately tend to make an effort to avoid using drugs. However, those that are in the throes of addiction generally don’t have an intimate relationship with themselves.
This means that they will generally struggle to hold an intimate relationship with themselves. When things get intimate in a relationship – when issues such as emotional health, past traumas, caretaking, compassion, and similar things arise – drug addicts may not know how to respond properly. This isn’t due to willful ignorance – it’s because they lack the faculties to address these things in themselves.
This can lead to things like unwarranted arguments. If someone who doesn’t understand themselves intimately is prodded in an intimate way, it can be rather triggering. Those who don’t understand their emotional health often respond to these triggers with the ‘blanket’ emotion of anger.
This can be extremely difficult in a relationship. A simple conversation about making improvements in the relationship or setting boundaries can be seen by the addict as a personal attack and can lead to aggression, arguments, and defensiveness.
Trust and Truth Among Drug Addicts
One thing that can be difficult to deal with when living or seeing someone who is addicted to drugs is trusting them. This is especially true among addicts who lie to cover up their addiction.
Lying to cover up an addiction might seem like a simple thing – if you were to ask them if they used drugs, they would simply say no, right? Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Covering up an addiction is a great ordeal and requires lying or ‘bending the truth’ about a number of things. Say that your partner has to go pick up drugs two or more times a day. This means that each time that they go to pick up drugs, they will have to generate a story about what they were doing or why they have to keep leaving the house at regular intervals.
They will likely come up with elaborate stories to explain why they are getting sick so often or try to explain why they have to go to the bathroom so many times in a night. These explanations are not only logical and believable but often generate sympathy for the person. This sympathy can take attention away from your suspicions.
While a drug addict generally has good – or at least understandable – intentions when they’re lying to cover up their addictions, this can be dangerous for a relationship. While they may intend to simply avoid hurting you, or they may want to feel free to use drugs without being judged or causing concern, the cycle of habitual lying can lead to problems elsewhere in the relationship.
Being in a relationship with a drug addict can be a challenging and confusing ordeal, especially if you’re not confident that your partner is using drugs. Identifying the issue can be a problem on its own, and once the cat’s out of the bag, so to speak, things may not get any easier.
Hopefully, this article has helped you to understand a bit more about the way that drug addicts behave in relationships and why they do so.
You’re worried nonstop. In fact, you’ve been worried for a very long time now. You’re so concerned that you’re finding it hard to focus on anything else.
Someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction, and you’re terrified that this problem is going to result in serious consequences. You’re also tired of enabling the behavior or pretending that it doesn’t affect you.
Maybe you’ve only ever seen an intervention on television. You’re wondering, do they work? Are they worthwhile? And how do you go about executing one if you decide it’s the right time? Let’s get into what every loved one should know.
What Is An Intervention?
An intervention refers to an organized, structured delivery provided by loved ones. Interventions should be planned and prepared in advance. When intervening with an alcoholic, each family member or friend describes how the drinking has impacted him or her. Participants also have the opportunity to express their feelings and set their boundaries moving forward in the future.
Families or even single loved ones can provide interventions on their own. However, many people choose to hire a professional interventionist to facilitate this service.
The approach will vary depending on the family system. However, the overarching goal of interventions is to convince an individual to seek and accept treatment for their drinking.
When Is the Right Time To Hold an Intervention?
There isn’t a perfect time. Unfortunately, many loved ones believe they must wait until the person reaches rock bottom to seek help. This myth is far from the truth.
Rock bottom can look different for everyone. Likewise, many people benefit from treatment without hitting this proverbial bottom. You don’t want to wait until it is too late. Hesitant people risk something terrible happening to their loved one in the meantime.
You may not be sure about the severity of your loved one’s problem. This is normal. Many alcoholics become gifted in hiding, downplaying, and downright lying about their drinking. Because of the shame and fear of ‘being exposed,’ they will often try to pretend their problem doesn’t exist.
That said, there are a few warning signs you should consider in assessing the seriousness of the problem:
Increased alcohol tolerance (needing to drink more to achieve feelings of intoxication)
Withdrawal symptoms (shakiness, tremors, cold or flu-like symptoms)
Anger and irritability when confronted about drinking
Withdrawing from one’s usual activities, hobbies, and friends
Work performance problems (showing up to work late, getting written up)
Weight loss or weight gain
Decline in grooming and hygiene
Legal issues (DUI, public intoxication, domestic violence)
Making frequent jokes about being an alcoholic
Frequent and intense mood swings
Stealing money from friends/family or stealing from stores
Making (and breaking) rules about drinking (i.e., I’ll only have one beer tonight)
Lack of concentration and focus
Any of these symptoms could indicate alcoholism. Like all addictions, the severity of alcoholism lies on a spectrum. That said, the drinking tends to become more progressive over time.
Once recognizing the problem, it’s wise to start thinking about the next steps you need to take. You may want to consult with a therapist or attend a support group like Al-Anon to increase your comprehension of addiction. You may also want to start contacting potential treatment centers to learn more about what their programs offer.
Determining Intervention Members
Interventions are most powerful when the alcoholic is surrounded by people he or she loves. This means that you want to have the closest people involved during this process. These people also tend to be the most guilty of enabling the alcoholic behavior.
Consider the following people for the intervention:
Immediate family (parents, children, spouse)
Extended family (grandparents, siblings, aunts/uncles)
Mentors or advisors
Employers, teachers, coaches
Members must be willing to assert their feelings honestly. Not everyone will be able to do this. Those people, while important to the process, should not be involved in this intervention.
If you are working with a professional interventionist, this individual will facilitate the communication between the parties. He or she will also work with particular members who may be resistant or skeptical about the process.
Practicing, Staging, and Rehearsing
It is essential that each intervention member has foundational knowledge about alcoholism during this preparation process. This knowledge helps people identify their needs- while also being sensitive and compassionate to the fragile nature of addiction.
All members will need to prepare what they intend to say in advance. Many people choose to write their thoughts down. This method allows them to read from the paper directly- rather than risk getting meddled with emotions once the individual is in the room.
Members will use I-statements when describing how they feel. Statements will sound like, I feel worried when you drive home after drinking at the bar, or I felt frustrated when you received your second DUI. I-statements show ownership over your feelings. By owning your perspective, you remove the blame towards the other person.
They will also recount specific alcohol-related experiences that affected their mental and physical well-being. These examples must factual and objective; this is not the time to blame or shame the person for what they did.
Members will also emphasize their love for the individual. They will describe why they care about this person. Finally, members will also express why they believe treatment is beneficial. They will also share their boundaries should the person deny treatment.
Professional interventionists may have each of you practice sharing your thoughts (or reading your letters) aloud. They may provide you with a formatted guide to follow when it’s your turn to speak.
Finding The Right Treatment
You will need to find a treatment facility before staging the intervention. A simple Google search will show you thousands of centers, and the search can become quickly overwhelming.
Make sure to consider the following factors when narrowing down your options:
Does the facility offer multiple levels of care (detox, residential, intensive outpatient)
Does the facility offer a family program or additional family support?
What does payment look like? Can you use insurance to pay for treatment?
Is there ongoing access and evaluation provided by a medical doctor?
Is individual therapy part of the program?
Can they provide support for legal, employment, or housing issues?
Do they offer specific programs for specific needs (i.e., LGBTQ, trauma, pain management)
The location may also be a significant variable when choosing treatment. That said, the above factors tend to be significantly more important than the area itself. In fact, many people benefit from seeking treatment away from their hometown. The distance removes them from external distractions, which allows them to focus on their recovery needs.
What If The Person Refuses Treatment?
Interventions do not always yield desirable outcomes. Addiction is a complex disease, and many people do not want to confront their problem with drinking.
It is essential that loved ones have a comprehensive plan in place if the person denies treatment. This often means having several rebuttals in place in case the individual tries to make excuses. For example, if he is worried about who will take care of their kids, you can state that you already have arrangements for childcare. If she is concerned about the treatment being too far away, you can share that you have researched the facility thoroughly, and this option is best for her needs.
That said, some individuals will still refuse to seek help. This is why having set boundaries in place is so essential.
Addiction affects the entire family, and each member plays a part in the vicious cycle. It is your job to recognize your enabling behaviors- and it is also your job to commit to stopping those behaviors immediately.
Enabling comes in many forms, but it may include:
Providing financial support
Offering bail or legal aid
Taking care of tasks that wouldn’t otherwise get done
Lying or making excuses about the drinking
Covering up the drinking (throwing away bottles, calling in sick for the individual)
Allowing the individual to criticize, insult, or otherwise hurt you
You cannot control your loved one’s addiction or recovery. You can, however, offer love and compassion while remaining firm in your boundaries during this challenging time.
Finding A Professional Interventionist
If you want to have a third-party person involved, you should start by looking into the Association of Interventionist Specialists. This association is a network of professionals who adhere to a strict code of ethics.
Ideally, you want someone that has ample experience in addiction work. Always ask about credentials and types of interventions done in the past. As you will be having ongoing communication with this person, you should also feel comfortable talking and opening up to him or her. What can you expect to happen before, during, and after the intervention? Will you be able to check in as frequently as you need?
Staging an intervention for a loved one can be a difficult choice. However, this decision may very well save someone’s life.
Are you considering having an intervention? Are you thinking about treatment options? We can help.Contact us at (866) 812-8231 today to learn how we support loved ones during this journey.
Does this scenario feel familiar? Someone you love has a drug addiction. You’ve tried to help this troubled individual countless times. You’ve loaned out money, you’ve offered your couch as a place to crash, and you’ve begged and pleaded at him or her to change. Maybe you’ve even helped them detox. Perhaps you’ve bought them drugs, just that once because they promised to enter treatment if you did.
You know you’re enabling, but you don’t see what other choices you have. After all, you care about this person deeply. You spend sleepless nights worrying about his or her safety. You don’t know what you would do if something terrible were to happen.
And so, you continue with the cycle of giving and giving and giving- all while loathing and resenting the process you feel stuck in. But where do you go from here? How do you provide love and support without enabling?
What Is Enabling?
It may seem like a simple concept, but enabling can be complicated. You may be doing it without realizing it. After all, it can be challenging to distinguish the fine line between supporting and enabling. That said, the line is an essential one, and it’s vital that you understand it.
Enabling occurs when your behaviors hinder someone from experiencing the real truth or consequences of their behaviors. In addition, it often means shielding, protecting, or downplaying the severity of one’s destructive choices.
There are numerous examples of enabling. Here are a few common ones:
Keeping secrets about the addict’s behavior to avoid problems or “keep the peace.”
Bailing out the addict financially or legally
Blaming others for the addict’s behavior or addiction itself (i.e., partners, friends, employers)
Seeks and attempts to control the addict’s behavior
Makes ongoing threats or ultimatums with limited to no follow-through
Provides caretaking for the addict
Ignoring undesirable addict behavior (i.e., denying the problem or downplaying its effects)
Prioritizing the addict’s needs above anyone else’s needs
Blaming external situations for the addict’s behavior
Why Do People Enable Addicts?
Most of the time, it’s because they love them. They love the addict so much that they are willing to go to any length to “better” the situation. Unfortunately, love is not a cure. Those struggling with addiction must be accountable for their choices if they want to change. Nobody else can do the work for them.
People also enable addicts out of fear. They worry that, if they don’t take care of their loved one, something bad will happen. For example, a caring mother may offer her home to her child because she believes it’s a safer choice than living on the streets. This gesture is a normal one.
Unfortunately, the addict may take advantage of her generosity and continue to use in the family home. The addict may also lie and steal from family members to continue the drug habit. Is this fair to that mother? Is her suggestion helping- or harming- her child?
Many loved ones want to shield the addict from pain. They believe that pain will only create more excuses to keep using. While this may be true, the efforts to protect pain often backfire as well. Addicts will quickly learn how- and who- they can manipulate to get what they want. As a result, they don’t often feel inspired to change their behavior. Instead, they feel more encouraged to keep doing what they’ve already been doing.
How Can You Stop Enabling?
Enabling, like drug addiction, can become its own nasty habit. Loved ones can essentially become addicted to the addiction. They often sacrifice their own mental health and identities to save or rescue the individual. However, it’s a one-sided bargain. As a result, the enabler tends to feel resentful, lonely, and jaded as a result of such unsuccessful efforts.
Learn About Addiction
The more you understand addiction, the more objective you can be in supporting your loved one. Unfortunately, there are many pervasive myths about addiction, including the beliefs that:
Willpower is all one needs to ‘beat’ addiction
Forced treatment does not work
One needs to hit rock bottom to seek help
Abstinence is the only method for success
A certain person, place, or thing caused the addiction
It is important to educate yourself. This education can come in the form of seminars, reading material, meetings, or even therapy.
If you are a family member, know that most professionals consider addiction as a family disease. This theory postulates that each member plays a role in reinforcing the addiction. As a result, recovery is most beneficial when everyone identifies how they play a part in exhibiting problematic behavior.
Seek Healthy Support
Peer support groups like Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, or Codependents Anonymous provide friendship and resources for loved ones struggling with the perils of addiction. Both groups offer ongoing meetings where you will learn from other like-minded individuals. You will also gain a better understanding of how addiction works.
Participation is not necessarily required. You can simply attend a meeting and just listen and observe. However, many people benefit from sharing stories, connecting with peers, reading literature, and working with a sponsor.
Talk To Your Loved One
Boundaries are only as good as your ability to enforce them. As difficult as it may be, it’s your job to convey your expectations with your loved one. Know that talking to your loved one may require some challenging conversations.
If you haven’t already shared your concerns, it’s essential that you find a neutral time to express how you feel. Be honest and firm. Your emotions are valid, so you don’t have to try to conceal or minimize them.
Aim to keep the conversation about how you feel. Do not accuse, blame, or attack your loved one for undesirable behavior. Doing so will likely result in defensiveness or denial- neither of which will help your conversation move forward.
Stop Making Excuses And Covering Up Undesirable Behavior
Of course, you worry about how the consequences of addiction will impact your loved one. This worry has probably led you to deny, rationalize, or make ridiculous excuses for certain behaviors. It has likely also led you to “fixing” problems to avoid your loved one having another stressor on his or her plate.
This enabling behavior needs to stop. It’s not your job to play babysitter. You cannot ‘guard’ the behavior. If you struggle with this concept, know that some difficult consequences can often be the culprit for seeking change. If your loved one never experiences unfortunate consequences, why should he or she have any motivation to stop?
Create Your Financial Boundaries
No matter how you cut it, addiction is expensive. Funding a habit that isn’t even yours can be catastrophic for your wallet.
You have a right to set financial limits. If you’ve been forking over your credit card or bank account information haphazardly, there’s a good chance your loved one is taking advantage of your money. This behavior doesn’t help anyone.
Instead, consider what you want your financial boundaries to look like. There isn’t a right or wrong. However, you may want to start with the following limits:
Refusing to bail out your loved one from jail
Refusing to pay any legal fees (lawyers, tickets, fines) as a result of the addiction
Requiring rent or other relevant payments if the loved one still lives with you
Limiting or withholding money your loved one if he or she is actively using
Discuss Treatment Options
There’s a strong chance that you want nothing more than for the addict in your life to get help. Maybe your loved one agrees that he or she has a problem and is willing to seek treatment. But what if that isn’t the case?
You may need to consider staging an intervention to demonstrate both your emotions and your boundaries. For an intervention to be successful, each person will need to share his or her expectations for change. Each person will also need to list the consequences if the addict opts against getting help.
Interventions must be taken seriously. If you cannot follow through with your boundaries, your words become meaningless. Do not use this method until you are ready to cope with whatever outcome arises.
Enabling While In Treatment
If your loved one does get help, it is also essential that you still take care of yourself during this time. Addicts can still be highly manipulative while in treatment. They may demand certain requirements (such as money) from you. They may threaten to leave or get high if you don’t follow through with their desired expectations.
It’s a good idea to have your own support network during this time. You will also have access to your loved one’s treatment team. They can help provide you with advice and guidance on how to offer support without enabling.
Many people struggle with enabling behaviors. You are not a bad person, and you are not alone! Do you want to learn more about how treatment can help support your loved one? Learn about our treatment facilities today by calling Recovery Connection at (866) 812-8231.
Methamphetamine is one of the most popular street drugs. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most dangerous and addictive. Many methamphetamine users develop serious health problems, have trouble maintaining stable lives, and put themselves at risk of developing serious addictions.
A Bit About Methamphetamine
Methamphetamine is considered to be a highly addictive drug that doesn’t have much medicinal use. Occasionally it is prescribed for serious cases of somnolence or ADHD that is resistant to other forms of treatment.
Methamphetamine is a drug in the amphetamine family. When users take methamphetamine, they are given a powerful boost of long-lasting energy. Many meth users frequently stay up for days on end, during which time they eat little or no food.
Amphetamines are potent psychostimulants that are known to cause several intense effects such as these. Methamphetamine, in particular, is known to cause people to experience some of the following:
Extreme bouts of euphoria
Hyperstimulation, agitation, restlessness – it is common for users not to sleep for anywhere from 2-5 days
Overdose symptoms, including convulsions or seizures at very high doses
These effects can occur within a few minutes after using meth or can occur within a few days. More long-term effects include some of the following:
Damage to blood vessels in the heart or in the brain
Chronic high blood pressure which can increase the risk of heart attacks or strokes
Damage to the liver, the kidney or the lungs
Damage to the nostrils, if insufflated, to the veins if injected or to the mouth, throat, and lungs if smoked
Infectious disease, abscess
Serious weight loss, difficulty gaining weight after cessation of use
Tooth decay and other oral health problems
Confusion, apathy, disinterest in life
Psychological addiction and dependence
Long-term emotional problems like depression
These problems are more likely to occur if you use methamphetamine at large doses over an extended period.
What Makes Methamphetamine So Addictive?
Knowing all of the potentially dangerous effects that can occur to someone using methamphetamine, you might wonder how the drug could still be so addictive. There are lots of things that make meth very addictive.
First off, there are several effects that the drug provides that many users find desirable. The euphoria, increased alertness, increased motivation, and physical activity, as well as the improved sense of well-being, can all make this drug very desirable for an individual.
More so than the initial effects of the drug, the after effects tend to lead users to want more. When the drug begins to wear off, the feelings of euphoria, excitement, and well-being tend to fade into less desirable feelings – things like paranoia, depression, and anxiety. Users are often quick to take more methamphetamine to combat these undesirable feelings.
Methods of Administration
The method in which users take methamphetamine also influences how addictive they find the drug. There are a few different ways of using the drug, the main three being injection, insufflation, and smoking.
Injection is one of the more popular methods of using methamphetamine. When a user injects a drug, the full dose is delivered directly into their bloodstream. This means that the full effects are experienced within a few seconds after administering the drug.
This leads to an incredibly powerful ‘rush,’ in which a person goes from their ‘baseline’ state of mind to a state of intense euphoria and excitement within a matter of seconds. A lot of users find this to be incredibly thrilling and continue to inject more so for the experience of the rush than the experience of the high.
Smoking is the most popular method of administering meth. The effects reach the person nearly as quickly as if they were to inject it. Smoking, however, is generally less stigmatized and more socially acceptable in circles where people are using meth.
The ease of which one can smoke meth and the rush that they experience make this a particularly addicting method of administration. Smoking meth tends to lead to the effects dwindling much quicker than with any of the other methods, as well, leading to users being more prone to smoking up more frequently than they would use other methods of administration.
Insufflation, or snorting, is one of the least popular methods of using methamphetamine. When a user snorts methamphetamine, a very powerful burning sensation strikes their nasal cavities. Many users find the pain intense enough to deter them from using this method of administration.
Insufflation has a slower onset time than both smoking and injecting, and thus users will experience less of a ‘rush.’ While the drug will still provide much of the same long-lasting euphoria, many users find that the rush is the most addictive part of the experience and thus snorting is less likely to cause cravings that are as serious or as intense as injecting or smoking.
Oral consumption of meth is not as popular as any of the other methods. Oral administration leads to the slowest onset – effects are not usually felt for anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour. However, oral administration leads to the most extended duration of effects out of all the methods of administration. The effects may be obvious for longer than 24 hours after the last dose.
Meth might not be as physically addictive as other drugs, such as heroin, but it can certainly be very psychologically addictive.
Crystal meth has been referred to as a drug that causes users to become addicted the first time that they try it. In many cases, this is true. The flood of dopamine responsible for the rush that users feel is many times more intense than what people are capable of feeling without the aid of drugs, and this intensely powerful sensation burns a memory into an individual’s brain that is hard to forget.
Many people also become addicted to meth because of the way it increases the ability to function in the short-term. Before any long-term damages have been observed, many users become addicted to the increased sociability, productivity, and wakefulness that the drug causes.
Unfortunately, the more a person uses methamphetamine, the less prevalent these positive effects become. At this stage, they will begin to use higher and higher doses of the drug in an attempt to relive the first experiences that they had with it.
This leads to the inevitable development of tolerance. During tolerance, your brain and body become accustomed to the extremely high flood of dopamine that the methamphetamine is releasing into your brain. This goes in contrast to your brain’s constant efforts at maintaining homeostasis.
Your brain and body are constantly trying to maintain an equilibrium, or a balance, known as homeostasis. Together, they attempt to regulate the number of hormones and neurotransmitters produced so that your different body parts and functions can work together in harmony. When you take a drug like meth that bombards your brain with dopamine, it attempts to maintain its level of homeostasis through a process known as downregulation.
Downregulation is the process by which your dopamine receptors essentially recede from the constant bombardment of dopamine. Since there is such a massive surge of dopamine in the brain, it responds to this by lowering the number of dopamine receptors available to receive dopamine so that you aren’t continually throwing yourself out of balance.
Unfortunately, this leads to difficulty. If your dopamine system is downregulated, then there won’t be enough receptors left to respond to the dopamine that you produce naturally. This means that, if you don’t take methamphetamine, you will feel typical symptoms of low dopamine: depression, lack of motivation, apathy, and similar feelings.
Methamphetamine withdrawal doesn’t cause as many physical withdrawal symptoms as drugs like opioids or benzodiazepines, which are known for having severe withdrawal symptoms.
Many of the physical symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal are either caused by the stress placed on the dopamine system during the period of usage or are a result of the way that the body has been treated during the addiction. Common symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal include:
These symptoms can last for anywhere from a week to several months or years depending on how long a person has been using meth and how much damage they have done to their dopamine system.
Methamphetamine is a potent drug, and with this power comes great risk. There are many cases of people becoming addicted to methamphetamine after only using it a single time, and it’s crucial to be incredibly cautious when considering whether or not to use a drug this powerful.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to methamphetamine, Recovery Connection can help. Call (866) 812-8231 to speak confidentially to a recovery specialist today.
For someone who has never had a serious drug problem, it can be dubious about trying and understanding what’s going on in the mind of an addict. Serious drug addictions tend to change the way a person thinks, and even close family members, friends, and loved ones can behave much differently after becoming dependent on drugs.
In this article, we’re going to talk about some of the ways that drug addicts think and view the world a bit differently than the status quo. This should help you better understand why your loved ones are behaving in a certain manner, should they be addicted to drugs.
The Basis of Thinking
To clarify, most people have a similar pattern of thinking. As human beings, we are hardwired to meet our needs for survival. This means that we must acquire sustenance, shelter, and other necessary things to ensure our survival. Conversely, we must push away influences that threaten our safety and compromise our ability to survive.
In this sense, the majority of people, addicts included, think similarly. We are all interested in self-preservation. The difference is that addicts have a very different way to go about this, a way in which people who have never used drugs might find confusing.
Many drugs can put a bandage over the pains of life – physically and emotionally. Troubled individuals often use it to kill the pain of their unaddressed trauma, in what they believe to be an act of self-preservation.
So in this sense, addicts don’t think much differently than non-addicts.. Drug addiction is known to cause some of the same biological changes that could result from an addiction to food or sex. However, drug addiction tends to do this in a more pronounced way, resulting in compulsive behavior that is more intense than most people are used to. We’ll explain this below. e
Addictive Thinking and Being Down in the Dumps
Most of us have experienced what drug addicts undergo regularly – a feeling of irritability restlessness, a general sense of being discontent with our circumstances and unable to make a change.
Even recovering addicts who have been sober for 30-plus years struggle with this type of thinking, and it can be difficult for them to determine whether they’re struggling with addicted thinking or if they’re having a bad day.
One of the main issues that users struggle with in this regard is that many of them have built their addiction on the basis of trying to avoid these feelings. By using dope, addicts can replace these feelings of discontent with blissful euphoria or numbness.
Unfortunately, as an individual continues to use drugs, they will require more and more of these drugs to achieve the same relief – a condition known as tolerance, which we’ll talk about more later. As their tolerance increases, they will subsequently become more and more prone to these undesirable feelings of discontent and restlessness. This is one way that the vicious cycle of addiction can begin to consume an individual.
External Validation & Socialization
Another reason that people begin to use drugs is that they were never given the proper love and acceptance that babies and children require from their parents.
If a child is not loved enough, it will begin its years in school believing that it’s “not enough,” or that something’s wrong with it. This pressure continues throughout the years of high school, and around this time, many troubled youths begin experimenting with drugs.
There are several reasons that drugs can seem useful for these individuals.
Many drugs reduce inhibitions and social barriers, allowing people to communicate openly and freely with people that they previously believed themselves to be unworthy to talk to. This can lead to the development of actual relationships – the catch being that the individual will now feel that they need this drug to continue maintaining their social relationship. This is a dangerous and challenging cycle of addiction to break because the addicted person becomes addicted to two separate things, the latter quite innocent: drugs, and the connections that drugs allow them to make. When an individual has associated drugs or alcohol with their ability to socialize and share love, energy, and time with people, the addiction becomes very hard to break.
Many drugs are known for causing a significant change in the production or reuptake of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. These hormones are messengers in the brain that are responsible for feelings of well-being and satisfaction.
There is evidence that people who have suffered through childhood trauma have lower levels of these neurotransmitters. When they use these drugs, the weight of their trauma seems to evaporate – leaving them feeling confident, self-assured, and in control.
The difficulty with this is that the individual begins to associate these feelings with the use of drugs and will continue to use drugs to achieve them. If they do not seek out professional help and learn how to develop these feelings on their own, a dangerous, long-term addiction could emerge.
The Pleasure Circuit
Not everyone who becomes addicted to drugs struggles with childhood trauma. Many people become victims of addiction simply because they thought it would be okay to ‘try something once.’
The reason for this is because of the way that the brain processes enjoyable experiences. Pleasure causes a release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, and it doesn’t matter if the pleasure comes from eating good food, having sex, or using drugs. This region is so closely associated with pleasure that it has been deemed the brain’s pleasure center.
One of the reasons that drugs are so addicting is because they are capable of flooding the brain with dopamine much quicker than most other pleasurable experiences. This means that they can effectively hack the brain into feeling as good as it would after, say, going for a long run or having sex.
Evidence suggests that the likelihood of something becoming addicting is related to how quickly the activity or substance releases dopamine in the brain. Since drug addicts are generally used to having very powerful surges of dopamine delivered quite fast, they often tend to lose interest in pleasurable activities that they once enjoyed.
The Daily Routine
Some of the less fortunate drug users have forsaken their homes and close relationships to continue to use. Often, those who are seriously addicted to drugs has fallen into a fundamental routine. This routine revolves around acquiring money for drugs, purchasing drugs, using drugs, and repeating the cycle.
Anything that interferes with this cycle can be very aggravating because there’s a very serious risk that someone could become sick if they don’t follow this routine. If they aren’t able to secure the funds to score, then they may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms.
Constant fear of withdrawal keeps many addicts in motion for long hours. During the later stages of addiction, anything that doesn’t fit into their routine presents a real danger for them. They often have to eschew family relationships, personal friendships, and deadlines or appointments to prevent themselves from getting sick.
Tolerance, Cravings, and Compulsion
Tolerance is a term that’s used to describe the gradual need for more and more of a substance to achieve the desired effects.
Through a process known as downregulation, the brain essentially ‘shrinks back’ from the flood of neurotransmitters bombarding it. An amphetamine user, for example, will constantly be experiencing very high levels of dopamine. In response, the brain will decrease the number of dopamine receptors available. This means that the user will require more amphetamine to experience the same high.
If a user does not stop when they begin to develop tolerance, their tolerance will continue to rise, and their receptor count will continue to decrease.
The fewer receptors that an individual has, the more difficult it will be for them to quit. This is because there will be very few receptors remaining to receive and react to the dopamine that the person produces naturally on their own.
This can lead to cravings and compulsion. While the individual may not be able to experience the same high that they once did, the memory of that experience will not fade for some time. In a desperate attempt to recreate their initial experiences, they will often use higher and higher doses – increasing the risk of overdosing and experiencing adverse side effects.
This creates an actual biological change in the bain. Two parts of the brain – hippocampus and the amygdala – actually store information related to the environmental cues associated with the use of drugs. These stored memories create a conditioned response which we know as a craving when the person is in a similar situation or environment to one that they’ve used drugs in.
This is one of the reasons that cravings can persist for so long. If someone uses drugs in their bedroom, for example, and they attempt to stop using drugs, their bedroom – a safe space – will become a trigger for immense cravings. Likewise, individuals may become triggered to use drugs while walking around town and spotting an alleyway, park, or another area that they had gotten high in.
Drug addicts are human beings and should never be treated as anything else. However, sometimes, it can be challenging to understand how to show compassion to individuals who behave so much different than the status quo.
Drugs can create some serious biochemical and psychological changes in an individual that can be difficult to understand. Hopefully, this article has made it a bit easier for you to see why your loved ones may be behaving the way that they are. If you or a loved one is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, call Recovery Connection at (866) 812-8231. We are here to help.
Throughout the history of humanity, mind-altering substances have been used in various forms in nearly every known culture. And wherever drugs or alcohol could be found, so could problems of individuals falling prey to the pleasures of intoxication. Addiction is not a new or sudden problem in our society, and therefore, it comes with centuries of philosophers, sociologists, psychologists and doctors attempting to define it and to cure it. Our social perceptions of addiction often include remnants of these older definitions that manifest as stigmas and myths. It’s time to talk about some of the common misunderstandings surrounding addiction and to bring these perceptions into a modern, more accurate light.
Myth: Addiction is a choice
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, substance use disorders like drug addiction or alcoholism are specifically characterized by a lack of choice. Individuals who struggle with addiction are dealing with a compulsion: a subconscious drive to use drugs or alcohol despite the conscious knowledge that it is unhealthy or damaging. The compulsion comes from a chemical imbalance in the brain, the causes of which can vary — but which are also typically beyond the addicted individual’s control.
For example, studies suggest a genetic component to addiction. A family history of substance abuse can mean that one person’s brain is hard-wired to be more susceptible to addiction than others. Environment is another significant factor: uncontrollable experiences like childhood neglect or abuse, growing up around normalized substance use or trauma like combat or sexual assault can all lead to an increased risk of addiction. Finally, even in instances where an individual knowingly begins using addictive substances, addiction does not set in intentionally or immediately. As a drug or alcohol habit develops, the individual’s brain slowly changes to depend on the substance, which in turn causes the characteristic compulsion and takes away a person’s ability to choose when, how or whether they use drugs or alcohol.
Myth: Addiction only happens to certain types of people
Someone asks you to picture an “addict.” What image first comes to mind? Popular media may have shaped the type of person you associate with drug and alcohol abuse. Perhaps the individual you imagine is involved in criminal activity, grew up in a “bad” neighborhood or is socioeconomically disadvantaged. It’s important to be critical of these stereotypes, not only because they can lead to prejudice or stigmas but also because they are statistically untrue.
Each year, surveys from organizations like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration show that addiction affects people of all walks of life. While we do know that certain groups may be more susceptible to particular substance use disorders, overall, there is no single type of person who is especially likely to be an “addict.” And, on an individual level, each person who struggles with addiction comes from a unique background with highly personal risk factors and stressors. From a young person developing a binge drinking problem in college to a single parent using alcohol to self-medicate for stress; from a teenager dealing drugs to provide for their family to a high-powered executive using cocaine to keep up with their work — people of all ages, genders, income levels, and geographic locations can be affected by addiction and substance abuse.
Myth: Once treated, addiction should be gone for good
The more we learn about addiction, the more we understand that it is a complex, chronic disease — one that requires lifelong care and management. While it was once believed that achieving physical sobriety could set an individual back on the right path, we now know that the psychological aspects of addiction hold the key to recovery. Treating the mind, however, is not as straightforward as healing the body. Today’s addiction professionals know that psychological stressors can emerge and trigger relapse even after years of successful sobriety. It’s essential to acknowledge that addiction does not have a one-time cure. This way, we can equip clients to better prevent and manage these stressors, rather than leaving them unprepared and feeling as though they have failed in recovery.
Many treatment centers are focusing on giving their clients relapse management tools on top of more traditional therapies. In addition, many centers are providing multiple levels of care — instead of ending treatment upon discharge from a residential program, clients can now participate in outpatient care, alumni programs and more to stay supported and connected to a recovery community over time. Individualized treatment is also on the rise, offering targeted care, especially for high-risk cases such as polysubstance abuse or co-occurring disorders.
Myth: Prescription drugs are less dangerous than illicit drugs
We trust doctors with our wellbeing, so it’s natural to assume prescription medications aren’t harmful. And in general, prescription drugs are safe — when they treat a legitimate health concern, when they are used according to your doctor’s instructions and when your doctor is aware of any changes in your medication schedule. These caveats are essential to understanding prescription drug addiction. Drugs like opioids (Vicodin, fentanyl), stimulants (Ritalin, Adderall) and benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium) are powerful substances. They contain similar chemical compounds to street drugs, often at a “purer” concentration. When misused, they are at least as harmful as their illicit counterparts.
Prescription drug abuse is characterized by rapid tolerance, in which the individual requires higher doses to achieve the desired effect. Tolerance leads to dependence and addiction, and to a greater risk of overdose as individuals take increasingly larger and more dangerous doses. According to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, rates of fatal overdose have been significantly higher in recent years among prescription drug users than users of illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine. It has unfortunately taken statistics like these to increase public awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse; moving forward, it’s essential to take prescription drugs seriously and use them with caution.
Myth: Addiction treatment should “scare them straight.”
When you see treatment centers that promise a comfortable, relaxing rehab experience, you might wonder if these places will really make their clients take recovery seriously. It’s easy to write off this kind of treatment as too soft, and to feel as though addiction treatment should really make individuals understand the full extent of what they’ve “done wrong.” However, experts know that addiction is based on compulsion — addicted individuals will continue to use drugs or alcohol despite knowing the consequences. Fear-, shame- or consequence-based interventions are no longer considered an effective means of treatment among top recovery centers.
In fact, this kind of approach is counterproductive. Some research suggests that self-reported feelings of shame in recovery are linked to a higher likelihood of relapse and that internalizing blame or poor self-esteem likewise makes addiction more difficult to control. Instead, effective addiction treatment should be supportive, focused on empowerment and aimed at rebuilding essential relationships with loved ones. The age-old adage that change comes from within rings especially true in recovery: only when the individual wants to change and believes they can enact change, will they be able to overcome their addiction. Using fear tactics will only perpetuate the individual’s belief that they are not capable of achieving more.
In our modern age of rapidly shared information, it’s essential that the knowledge we learn and spread is accurate and up to date. When we fall into old stereotypes about addiction or make judgments about what it’s like to go through recovery, we make it more difficult for society as a whole to talk about addiction in a healthy, productive way. Myths like those discussed here perpetuate the problem of substance abuse and prevent individuals who are struggling with addiction from receiving the support and understanding they need to heal. But when we work together to learn the truth, we change the dialogue and make room for a broadly impactful shift in how we treat, and ultimately prevent, the disease of addiction.
In collaboration with:
Elizabeth attended the University of San Francisco’s McLaren School of Business and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Management & Marketing. Elizabeth struggled with addiction for the majority of her adult life. It took her several attempts at various treatment centers to find a successful life in recovery. It became her mission in life to find a way to truly help individuals recover from addiction. In 2016, she co-founded Riverside Recovery alongside her partner Kirk Kirkpatrick, where she is currently the Director of Marketing.