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Help for Addiction Begins with Understanding

Help for Addiction - the Bergand Group

It’s difficult enough to seek out help for addiction without the debilitating and wrongful stigmas associated with the struggle toward recovery.  Too often, there exists a mindset in those around the patient that is greatly lacking in understanding and sympathy and which produces such thoughts (and unfortunately, words) like “why don’t you just stop?”  The void in appreciation for the enormity of this challenge stems from most people’s not fully comprehending how addiction works and the extent to which addiction is chemical, ingrained, and not at all easy to forgo.

The Importance of the Language of Conversation

“An addict wants to stop, but can’t.”  It isn’t like other, unhealthy behaviors which do not come tied with dependence in the blood and brain.  The word “addicted” is thrown around regularly these days, with these “addictions” usually referring to social media, binge-watching television programs, and particular food chains, for example.  However, these are, more accurately, vices, excessive behaviors, or indulgences rather than true addictions, which are not so simply given up.  Even if someone is looking for help for addiction after suffering losses in their personal or professional life, he or she may still fall back on old habits as a result of the physical hold that substance abuse has on most people.

People try to understand things based on their own experiences and perspectives.  Though they may have good intentions, it’s difficult to impossible for someone who hasn’t sorely needed help for addiction to relate to the endeavors of someone who has.  “They come at it from their own perspective of being able to moderate and stop drinking, smoking, or taking their pain pills without a struggle” and therefore often cite those with true addictions as having “moral failings or lack of willpower. ”  This only makes the trials of patients more arduous as their support from the outside dwindles to shallow judgment without empathy.

While in a rehabilitation program to receive help for addiction, the former addict will likely be surrounded by those who have similar events in their past of the difficulties they’ve had.  The staff will be helpful and committed not only because it’s their jobs, but because they’ve seen so many examples of those struggling and have a much more solid notion of the real face of addiction.  However, once that person leaves the facility, whether after inpatient care or around outpatient rehab, it becomes harder to relate to others.  Even if family, friends, and/or coworkers aren’t acting with outright disdain, it’s disheartening when no one nearby has a serious understanding of the hold of addiction.

So, what can these non-addicts do or offer to their loves ones to provide support?  It begins with an investigation into the properties of addictive substances to avoid thoughtless comments.  For example, asking if a person can drink “now, since you’ve been clean for a long time,” considering the alarming fact that “addictive things that successfully commandeer the dopamine network can change it permanently.”  That is, a drink years down the road can have the same effect, or a potentially stronger one, as it did during the peak addiction period.  Also, be aware of previous situations or scenes that may trigger old feelings and cravings which can lead to, at the least, discomfort, and at the most, a relapse.

Another key piece of information as brought on by research is that many who’ve gotten help for addiction and are working past it may actually have a more intense desire for the anticipation before the actual usage more than the substance’s effects, themselves.  This is said to be because “cues presented outside of the subject’s awareness still trigger conscious cravings,” so that the associations made between the circumstances and the eventual, positive feelings is still strong if those circumstances (with or without the drug) arise again.

The most important takeaway here should be that there needs to be less ambivalence in addiction, which can have a majorly negative impact on those trying to get help for addiction.  Recovery is daunting enough on its own without the contempt.  For more information on changing the conversation about those in drug treatment and to encourage loved ones to find help for addiction, get in touch with The Bergand Group. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center, and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

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About The Bergand Group:

At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehabilitation and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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