Addiction is not a disorder that is defined by the addiction behaviors themselves but a disorder that manifests in an array of unhealthy choices with little regard to safety or the wellbeing of oneself or others. Some drink and use drugs to excess, others gamble themselves into financial destitution, and still others engage in other risky and reckless behaviors. Though we are still learning about the nature of addiction and why it is that some people develop the disorder and others do not, one thing is clear: One unsafe choice often opens the door to another unsafe choice, which in turn sets the stage for negative consequences and further harm.
For example, while under the influence, one Louisiana woman reportedly kidnapped her toddler cousin after a family gathering. When she was found in the throes of an overdose, the boy was found safe, but after receiving medical treatment, the woman was arrested on charges of kidnapping. Using drugs to excess put her in physical danger, and it also contributed to her choice to take the child and put him in harm’s way due to the fact that she was unable to care for him since she was not safely caring for herself.
Is an addiction disorder contributing to your loved one’s ability to manage compulsive behaviors?
Substance Use and Abuse
Drug and alcohol use very often plays a role in the manifestation of other addiction behaviors. People who struggle with gambling often describe drinking heavily and doing other drugs at the same time. The same can be true of those who engage in compulsive and unsafe sex practices regularly or spend well beyond their means compulsively.
When one is unable to control the impulse to drink or get high, they are unable to control the consequences and choices that follow. The choice to drink heavily may lead to choosing to show up late or call in sick to work, and doing this repeatedly can result in job loss and financial problems. This may then put strain on the family and cause relationship difficulties, which may then lead to higher stress levels. This may then lead to more drinking, that over time, may contribute to chronic health issues, which also contribute to an inability to get or maintain work or maintain positive relationships at home.
This is one of the cycles associated with an untreated addiction disorder, and without professional intervention and treatment, it can continue until it ends in arrest and loss of freedom or death due to overdose or accident.
The Good News
Just as one unhealthy choice will often lead to another, so too will one positive choice lead to another positive choice and another. Enrolling in a comprehensive drug treatment program and agreeing to begin the process of recovery opens up your loved one’s life to healthy choices and opportunities. Just learning about new ways to manage life and cope with compulsions and cravings without indulging in the unwanted behavior is a step forward.
If your loved one is not under the influence, they may be more likely to think through their decisions and make choices with the big picture in mind rather than the “benefit” of instant gratification. By making one positive choice, they set the stage for more healthy choices and a life defined by lower stress levels and physical and mental wellness.
What Choice Will You Make?
If your loved one is struggling with addiction, it is recommended that you step in and help them to connect with treatment services as soon as you identify the disorder. Extreme changes in personality, in relationships with others, in goals, and other signs can indicate a need for treatment when coupled with gambling, regular drug use, and other addiction behaviors.
The sooner your loved one can connect with a treatment program that can help them stop engaging in these unwanted behaviors and replace them with new, healthier habits, the better. Your support and encouragement to begin treatment can be the catalyst they need to really assess where they are in their lives and what changes need to come next in order to improve their situation.
What is the next choice you and your family will make to help your loved one in crisis?