WHY AN ADDICT NEEDS LOVE
Everyone feels low from time to time, so it’s not always easy to know when it is part-and-parcel of daily life, and when it’s time to seek help. In most cases, it is short-term and self-correcting, but for a significant minority this is not the case. For those individuals, it is important to seek treatment just as you would any other health condition. Here we discuss six warning signs which, together, might indicate that it’s time to seek professional help.
What are the signs?
- You’ve been feeling low or irritable for most of the day, every day for two weeks or more. You might have found yourself worrying about past or future events for long periods of time, or simply feeling sad, cross or tearful. Sometimes it’s hard to recognise a gradual change – have others noticed that you don’t seem your usual self?
- You’ve lost interest in activities that you used to enjoy. Perhaps you have been seeing less of your friends or family recently, have stopped going to the gym, or cooking balanced meals. This is really about recognising changes in what’s normal for you – no one is saying you have to exercise five times a week or eat your greens, but changes in your routine can offer concrete indications that your mood is changing.
- You are struggling to concentrate. You might notice that you struggle to focus when reading or watching television, for example, or to follow the thread of a spoken conversation. This could be affecting your performance at work, or limiting your ability to perform routine tasks such as food shopping. Again, we are looking for a change in what’s normal for you, so if concentration has always been something you find tricky there is little cause for concern.
In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.
— Robert Frost
Why Addicts Need Love
© 2018 Phoebe Hutchison
Working with people who have addiction is by far the most complex of all counselling. Why?
When I sit with someone who has an addiction, they usually have so many other complications; whether it be food addiction, sex addiction, or drug and alcohol addiction. The addict usually also has anxiety, depression and/or relationship issues, as well as self dislike and financial struggle.They often feel helpless, angry, and trapped in this cycle.
Most of these people started life with trauma, instability, neglect or abuse in their childhood. From this, their brains and nervous systems developed differently. Their reward pathways respond differently. And when they finally find ‘that thing’ that gives them the escape, pleasure, or the peace, their unstable nervous system and brain feel stable – they become ‘hooked’, and life becomes a ‘hell roller coaster’ of pleasure, pain, escapism, avoidance, disconnection and shame.
Drugs or alcohol start as fun for most people, but … the man who spent years partying with friends, now sits alone smoking cones in his bedroom at his parent’s house… in his fifties. The pretty girl at high school is now in her forties, injecting herself with heroin, with a scarred face, no work, and suffers chronic anxiety and depression, claustrophobia, agoraphobia, and struggles to leave the house.
The parties and the fun ended decades ago, and now these lives are like warzones.
Often the addiction starts in their formative years, even as young as eight. The addiction becomes so integrated into their identity that it becomes a part of how they see them self as they grow, develop and socialise.
I view addiction as a pair of invisible crutches that a person uses to help them through a tough time. However, they are often unable to release the crutches without professional help, and as a consequence, they do not heal all the invisible wounds.
Addiction is the warzone that causes scars and turmoil in: self-esteem, thought patterns, unresolved grief, emotional vulnerability, poor nutrition and low fitness, social isolation, avoidance of hobbies and passions. The addict is often not happy with themself or what they do in life.
So how can we help someone who is addicted?
I believe professional help is needed for this complicated area. An empathetic and capable addiction counsellor will work with the client to ensure that first of all this person has the help they need for them to feel more stable, loved, confident and more engaged in life. Once the client has many coping strategies, and he or she can begin to see hope for the future. The counsellor can then help this person rebuild their life from the ground up.
When the addict is able to see themself in a more positive way, when they can have more positive thoughts, they will start to repair their life and move closer to being able to ‘let go’ of their addiction. The healing comes before the release.
In my job as a drug and alcohol counsellor, I have helped clients into full recovery from: crystal methamphetamine (ice), marijuana, cigarettes and alcohol, and I have been thanked by these clients for ‘giving them their life back’. I am simply guiding them, and giving them the tools, for a fulfilling life, and in many cases, doing trauma release work. Essentially, though, the client is doing the work – which is changing mind, body and soul.
When we heal… and when we love what we do, who we are, and when we have hope for a better future, we no longer need to keep escaping with addiction.
Once we work through the grief, the trauma, the horrors of what we have been through, the beautiful soul underneath is free to simply enjoy life and be present in each moment. No ‘long term’ drug addict truly wants to be a drug addict.
I don’t believe that long term addicts enjoy being addicts. The habits of addiction can be stopped. Once an addict sees themself with love, the healing journey begins. A drug and alcohol counsellor is not someone there to tick the boxes. A drug and alcohol counsellor, in my opinion, is a counsellor who is worthy to help heal the most complicated in all human suffering.