Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Addict's Private Prison - Part 2

The knowledge that addiction is progressive in nature explains to us why an addicts behavior gets more radical as time moves forward. As the snowball starts rolling downhill it's movement sparks the avalanche... everything goes slowly but surely out of control. It's maddening for those of us who love them and can see what is happening to them, to their health, to their lives... for the addict themselves they often become frustrated. They just can't understand why all this bad stuff is happening to them? The world is against them and they truly believe that the circumstances they find themselves in are totally someone else's doing...I remember trying to explain the obvious to my daughter many times and her looking back at me with an expression of pure amazement, how could I be so misinformed?

Most often the addicts initial response is denial. Deny, deny, deny... if I do not acknowledge it, it doesn't exist... right? The mindset that 'I can stop whenever I choose to... I just choose not to, no matter how unmanageable my life has become' is a lie that they tell to others and themselves over and over again. Just like any lie any of us tell ourselves... eventually we tend to believe it on some level.

For the majority of addicts there does comes a point when reality sets in and it doesn't need to be rock bottom for the revelation to occur. It could be something as simple as a loved one turning away... to finding themselves in the local ER and not remembering how they got there. Sadly, even when reality is finely clearly defined in their minds that doesn't always spark the desire to find sobriety.

For some there will be veiled attempts at living a sober life, only to find that the hole they have dug for themselves is so deep that they have no way of figuring out how to rise above it. Especially true if there are multiple legal issues, unresolved emotional problems and family dynamics that have been destroyed or damaged. Just imagine for a second your own life with the multitude of plates spinning in the air. We're all juggling a dozen things at once and some are good and some "not so much". Now take all that, add some lowered self-esteem, some illegal drugs, a small, unreliable support system (if one even exists) and you have a volatile cocktail that can explode into complete degradation and feeling of irreversible failure.
One of the things that breaks my heart time and time again is seeing someone who is trying to conquer their addiction alone, with all of the 'book knowledge' and none of the application skills. They truly believe they've got it... and their sobriety is short lived.

So now we have the RELAPSE. The addicts dirty word and something that we looking from the outside just can't wrap our heads around... relapse. Why in the world would someone who was able to break free of the chains of their chosen drug even for a short time want to set back into that world. All that wasted effort... that's how we who do not suffer from the hold of the drug see it. Now take a moment and consider the flip side of the coin. Consider you are the one that broke free... that suffered the withdrawal...whether short lived or long endured... you have a sense of accomplishment and folks they earned that good feeling about their efforts. If you've never witnessed an addict in withdrawal... you probably won't understand just how difficult the process is... both physically and emotionally. Now they find themselves for whatever reason (and often they have no real idea why) knee deep in the old familiar high baby... they are loving it and hating themselves all at the same time. So, onward through the fog they go... guilt, feelings of failure, disbelief, self hatred, the list is endless. These are all the things they are now beating themselves up for and the old tapes begin to play. "See you knew it would never last, my life sucks, this is all there is for me"... and to top it all of they have their families and friends to deal with... believe it or not relapse is usually embarrassing, and painful for an addict to admit to those who love and support them. Why would they want to admit momentary defeat? Why would they want to see the look of disappointment or disgust in the eyes of those they want to hard to please??? Relapse doesn't happen out of spike... drugs and alcohol have power beyond our imagination...

One tool that helps an addict increase their chances of recovery is to reach out for help, then actually accept the help, learn, apply and live. It's not a guarantee of recovery, but it sure gives them a leg up. It's not enough to listen, it's not enough to go to meetings, it's not enough to lend lip service... knowledge is power... if you do not apply the knowledge you have it's just air between your ears... totally useless. Oh yea, it may still be up there in the old gray matter...but it has been rendered useless. This is the place, these are the souls that are walking a fine line... playing with death... clinging to life... recovery is hard work. Depression, apathy, toxic relationships, feelings of a failed life and no future plays a key role in the tightrope they are walking upon. There is a huge difference between be sober and being in recovery. They may say they are sober and perhaps part of the time that is reality... but recovery is constantly slipping through their fingers...

Pray for those suffering from this disease and those who love them... Cry out to Jesus... Cry out to Jesus...

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