Willingness Is Key
Drug addiction and alcoholism, like virtually any other disease, will get worse unless the suffering person is willing to seek help. Similarly, someone with cancer has little chance unless they are willing to see a doctor and take the prescribed medications and treatments. In both cases, if the treatment is stopped, the disease comes back, ever growing and getting worse.
By Shayne Sundholm, CEO, Clean Recovery Centers
Addicts often in denial
But there is a difference between someone with cancer who seeks help and the addict. Those suffering from addiction have a condition that tells them they do not have it. This why willingness to seek help is even more important with the disease of addiction.
Suffering addicts, in the depths of their disease, cannot differentiate the truth from the false. The resulting behavior is that of someone who quite often appears to be insane.
Keys to willingness
How does the suffering addict become willing? Love and support of friends and family can help tremendously. Feedback geared towards what is right, not wrong with the addict is critical.
A person in the depth of addiction feels a level of guilt, shame and remorse that is indescribable. Therefore, attacks by family members, spouses and children may only make the addict feel worse and become even more unwilling.
Why not you?
Family and friends of the addict often feel jilted by life. Why do they have to be the ones with a father, mother, sister, brother, spouse or friend who suffers from addiction. They ask, “Why me? I want no part of this.”
To that question, my response is usually, “Why not you? What is so special and unique about your life that this should never happen to you?”
What would you do if this person lost their arms or legs in an accident? Would you leave them out in the cold, treat them poorly? Would you blame them or call them names? What if you had a child with a severe mental handicap? What if your mother or father developed Alzheimer’s? How would you react to the loved one in these cases?
Lack of empathy
I am not suggesting that family and friends of the addict have no cause for being hurt and upset. What I am suggesting is that not addressing these feelings can only do the person feeling this way and the suffering addict more harm.
If there is one thing that can destroy a suffering addict’s willingness, it is a lack of empathy from spouses, children, family and friends. Actions such as name calling, blaming, looking down on the addict, hurtful and snide comments, can be enough to push an addict over the edge, resulting in even more horrible consequences for the addict and those around them.
Conversely, the suffering addict’s best chance at recovery is when the those supporting them continuously express hope, optimism and positivity. This is critical because the most effective recovery is self-directed, strength based and empowerment based.