Whether you’re seeking help from a drug abuse treatment center or you’re the family member of someone who is using, it will help you to understand the connection between the addict and her drug. There is a relationship between the addict and her drug of choice that is more important to her than any of the relationships she has with the people in her life.
Think about the obstacles she overcomes to maintain her use: She’s fighting with people, struggling to sustain some semblance of a daily life, and possibly even backed into a legal corner. Despite those negatives, she really enjoys the way that substance makes her feel. It’s a relationship that she never wants to end.
She puts more work into that relationship than with any of her real-life relationships. Consider the qualities that go into a relationship: You think about commitment, dedication, faithfulness, honesty, and communication. But those qualities demonstrate themselves in a kind of twisted way when it comes to drug addiction.
She lies to the people in her life because she is committed to maintaining her addiction. She is dedicated to maintaining a façade that will protect her ability to use. No matter what opportunities are presented to her, she remains faithful to her addiction.
Just how does that relationship become such a reality for the addict? As she descends into an ever-deepening abyss of addiction, she rationalizes her drug use by telling herself that she is different from other people and she can handle the drugs. That means that people are wrong about drugs being bad.
She has to believe that in order to maintain a positive self-image. The alternative is accepting that drugs generate negative behaviors, and she will have to despise herself for her use. She must then despise the people who love her because, since she’s not worthy of love, the people who love her must be stupid. All of this unhealthy reasoning is exacerbated by her use.
Loved ones ask, “Why are you doing this to us?” Initially the addict promises over and over again to stop using. But she doesn’t stop. The satisfaction she gets from her high becomes the primary motivation in her life. Nobody and nothing matter as much as the substance of choice.
How does she shut down the people who are interfering with her drug of choice, the real love in her life? You’ve heard that the best defense is a good offense: So the addict responds by lashing out at her family members.
She’ll begin with something like “I’m not hurting anybody but myself.” But she will spiral downward to horrible things like, “I don’t want you to interfere in my business” and “I hate you—I will never forgive you—leave me alone” and even “Why don’t you die.” She will say and do anything to get family members to back off.
If you are dealing with an addict and you feel that you are not as important to her as her addiction, you are correct. That’s why recovery requires involvement of the entire family. The addict is still fighting you when she says “I got myself into this—you can’t help me get out of it.” Recovery is not something she can do alone. A drug abuse treatment center can bring her to communicate with honesty. Only when she accepts the truth that her addiction affects her entire family, and only when she begins to work with her loved ones instead of against them, will she truly be able to achieve recovery.