The Vicious Cycle of Addiction
With horror, families of an addicted person watch their loved one destroy himself (or herself) with drugs or drink. The damage is obvious to them. His health is declining. His morals and ethics are gone or nearly gone. Many times, there have been criminal acts such as selling drugs, thefts, assaults or worse. His family may be gone or about to go or the children may have been taken away. Everything valuable is long gone. “How can he do this to himself? And us?” they ask.
So how can he keep taking the drugs or drinking? There have already been overdoses or blackouts or perhaps his life is just passing him by, neglected.
This deterioration is painful, as is the fear that something more dangerous will happen.
How can he possibly do this to himself? He was so bright and his life held so much promise. Doesn’t he see what he is doing to himself?
That’s the problem. To a marked degree, he doesn’t. Why is this?
The Reasons Drug Abuse Can and Must Continue
Drugs lower awareness. This goes for all drugs including those that might be needed for medical or therapeutic reasons. (In medical cases, the temporary need for the drug outweighs the downside.)
Alcohol, painkillers, marijuana, anti-anxiety drugs like Valium or Xanax, Spice, methamphetamine, Ecstasy and others all lower awareness in one way or another. It might be the awareness of physical pain. But it might also be awareness of problems in one’s life that should be dealt with. Or it might be that one’s inhibitions are lowered artificially which can lead to impulsive and dangerous decisions.
As a person rolls along using drugs, he is also stacking up a track record of acts that cause guilt. He harms himself, may abuse or neglect his children or spouse. Many people steal things from the home or the homes of family or friends. And worse. His guilt finally reaches crushing levels of pain. But the drugs keep the awareness of the guilt away.
His body also becomes depleted of its normal stores of nutrients. He loses B vitamins and minerals, either due to a poor lifestyle or because of the toxic effect of the substances themselves. As the body becomes more and more dysfunctional, it will suffer aches, pains, and weakness. These deficiencies also affect his mind, dragging his mood down.
And there are the side effects of the drugs themselves. For painkillers, these include tiredness, weakness, shortness of breath, depression and stomach pain. With stimulants, it might be headache, weakness, anxiety, paranoia.
But his drug of choice, or any drug he can get his hands on if the preferred drug is not available, makes the aches, pains, and guilt go away. The mental effects may still be present but under the influence of the drug, he may not notice them or may think they are normal. Thus the vicious cycle of addiction continues.
This is how a person can be in the process of destroying everything he loves but continue to use drugs or drink.
Sometimes the Addicted Person Does See the Harm
There are exceptions. Sometimes an addicted person sees the harm and is himself (or herself) horrified. He may beg the family for help. But when withdrawal kicks in and the cravings become overwhelming, he usually reaches for the addictive substance instead of help.
This may explain to families why they line up a rehab for their loved one but then he’s gone and doesn’t come back for weeks or months.
It also explains why withdrawal is so difficult. As the effects of the drugs wear off, all these problems, pains, and guilt come back in full force. Add intense drug cravings and yes, the person may be hit by far more than he can handle by himself.
Ending the Cycle of Addiction
When a person goes through withdrawal at a Narconon center, generous doses of nutritional supplements are given to each person to help the body begin to rebuild and to lift the mood. Special techniques help alleviate pain and discomfort and calm the body. Gentle reorientation actions calm the mind and help a person realize that he is now in a safe place of recovery.
After withdrawal, the Narconon program provides thorough detoxification that many people say eases cravings, and life skills training that teaches each person how to leave guilt and its accompanying depression far behind.
Helping an addicted person break free from this vicious cycle is frustrating and distressing. This information may help the family understand the situation they and their loved one are in. When the family understands this phenomenon, addiction is a little less mysterious and the family may be a little better prepared to take action to save that person’s life.