We live in a world with significant amounts of mind-altering stimulation options offering us an instant gratification, a dopamine rush. Everywhere we look, we are bombarded with every temptation imaginable: Alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and glucose are very common and easy to obtain temptations.
If you are born with the gene for addiction (the A1 allele of the D2 dopamine receptor gene on the 11th chromosome) you are predisposed to the need and want of mind alternating substances. The gene gives you a set of fewer dopamine receptors at birth. This sets you up for addiction to any mind altering substance because all mind alternating substances produce dopamine. Therefore, you are not chasing mind alternating substance such as Alcohol, tobacco, drugs or glucose. You are chasing dopamine.
As a result, many of us are eventually faced with the challenge of dealing with an addiction. Everyone knows someone struggling with an addiction such as alcohol, tobacco or drugs. Maybe it’s you, or maybe a loved one, or maybe a friend.
When it is someone you love and care about, it is especially challenging to deal with his or her addiction. Maintaining a relationship in these situations is challenging at best. You don’t want to hurt their feelings or damage your relationship. You want to help them realize they have an addiction and help them during their struggle with the addiction problem itself. You are both being hurt and often they do not understand this.
Are you looking for some ways to help a loved one overcome an addiction? We will go through the signs and present solutions to conquer addiction.
How do you know if someone is really addicted?
Many things addictive in excess can be harmful in moderation. There is a difference between an alcoholic who can’t hold a job and someone who likes to drink a glass of wine with dinner, or pops champagne for New Year’s celebrations. Before you even help someone with an addiction problem, you must first know the differences between healthy moderation and a harmful addiction also known as a moderate habit.
How often are drugs or alcohol being used:
Is the drug or alcohol use staying at a steady level, or is it increasing in dose or frequency?
Many addicts develop a tolerance due to a depletion of dopamine caused by the use of mind-altering substances or activity over time. Therefore, the same dose doesn’t give the same “high” after a while, or even the same sense of normalcies. Therefore to get the same effect, they increase the dose or frequency, and they need higher consumption levels to get the same high. The more you use, the more dopamine receptors you damage, the more you have to use. Dopamine helps us process the events of stress. The more you damage from abuse, the more you need to use to fire dopamine. Once Dopamine receptors are completely damaged and you stop using, the wind blowing causes too much stress. That’s what a withdraw symptom is. Take a shot of whiskey, a prescription opiate or a shot of heroin, and instantly withdraws cease. Not from the drug, but the firing of dopamine. Remember dopamine helps us process stress.
Rebuild those receptor sites by flooding the brain with gamma globulin proteins or amino acids threw Intravenous IV drips. They rebuild receptors more quickly than what 6 months to 2 years of abstinence can only begin to rebuild.
For example, if someone is hungover from drinking too much last night, and his or her first response to the hangover is drinking a little in the morning as a cure. This is an indication of alcoholism.
Is alcohol affecting normal daily activities?
- Does the suspected addiction negatively affect anything important in their lives? Has he or she lost his or her job over it? Or destroyed relationships with close friends or family? Does it damage finances, maybe they are wasting their life savings and going deeper and deeper into debt? Or is their physical or mental health being affected in any significant manner? If there are significant negative consequences, yet the person is continuing with the same behavior patterns, it is most likely an addiction.
- Does the person have a difficult time controlling their actions? Meaning, the person is aware of the risk or damage it causes, they have tried to stop, but relapsed over and over and it seems like he has lost control over that part of their life. This is a huge red flag that this is an addiction.
This is an addiction, what’s next?
Common mistakes when dealing with someone with an addiction:
- Do not try to judge, blame, shame, and guilt-trip them to change. This often backfires because what lies underneath the addictive behavior, is a negative self-image and self-loathing. The addiction is already being used to escape from guilt, regret, shame, self-loathing, and therefore, if you trigger these emotions, they will be even more likely to continue to their self-destructive addictive behavior. Coming from a loving, caring, supportive place is imperative.
- Do not try to educate your loved one about the dangers of addiction. That again, sounds counter-intuitive. But generally speaking, addicts know full well the negative effects of their addiction. Giving them more information or reminding them of the harm, won’t help them overcome the addiction. Addiction is not a logical problem. Addiction is not caused by lack of good information. What lies underneath the addiction is negative emotions, and negative subconscious self-image.
- Do not let the addictive person influence or changes your behavior. Do not partake in the addictive behavior. You cannot help someone else by damaging yourself. Loving and caring someone else doesn’t mean you have to engage in same self-harming behaviors. Do not engage in enabling or encouraging them. There is a difference between loving and caring for someone, and loving and approving his dysfunctional behavior.
So, now you know your loved one is an addict. We recommend taking the following steps.
Helping a loved one with an addictive behavior
- Accept that you cannot control another person. But, you can help and influence them. Try setting a good example. Share with them how they can benefit from not engaging in harmful addictions, and support them to develop healthy habits instead.
- Tell them you love them and care about them, but you are concerned about negative effects of the addiction. Make a distinction between the addictive behavior and the person. The person may change, and develop better habits and overcome any difficulties with addiction once you get their brain chemistry balanced with amino acids.
- Accept your own limitations about helping them overcome an addiction. You may be friendly and supportive, lend them an ear when they need to talk. Not everyone is a psychiatrist who specializes in addiction recovery. If their problems go beyond your skill levels to help, openly accept this. Their recovery is not your responsibility alone. Get them into a recovery program. Balance Brain chemistry first then the therapy part will take care of itself.
- If you are living in the same household, change the environment. Get rid of all the alcohol and drugs in the house, and fill the house with healthy food and drink choices instead. The environment can be very powerful. Change to healthy friends and you’re lifestyle will change.
- Don’t hesitate to refer them to qualified professionals. Psychiatrists, doctors, psychologists, addiction recovery centers, they all specialize in helping people with addictions. If such professional help is out of the question because of financial cost, try volunteer groups. This may be groups like 12 step programs, local churches or community centers, or SMART recovery online webinars or local meetups.(https://www.smartrecovery.org/)
- Many times, addictions are fueled by a need for connection. Support them to have a healthy new social group, that doesn’t use alcohol or drugs to feel good. Join with them to a health-fitness group, maybe. Maybe help them find a healthy hobby or interest group or take some night classes. Keep them away from bad influences, lifestyles and bad environments.
Helping a loved one struggling with addiction
Addictions are a common problem in modern society filled with many tempting options promising instant gratification. Many times, giving in to these temptations will cause long-term negative effects if you are born with the gene for addiction (the A1 allele of the D2 dopamine receptor gene on the 11th chromosome), you’re predisposed to the need and want of mind alternating substances. The gene gives you a set of fewer dopamine receptors at birth. This sets you up to the addiction to any mind-altering substance, because all mind alternating substances produce dopamine. Therefore you are not chasing mind alternating substance such as Alcohol, Nicotine, drugs or glucose. You are chasing dopamine.
If you think someone you love and care about may be addicted, ask yourself is this really an addiction? Is the dose or frequency of the problematic substance or behavior increasing over time? Does it negatively affect any major areas of his life, like his career, finances, health, close relationships? Does he have a history of being unable to give up the harmful substance or behavior? If so, he or she is most likely suffering from addiction.
If someone you love is addicted, don’t try to blame, shame, guilt-trip them to change. This often backfires and even increases addictive behavior. Also, don’t try to lecture them with facts and logical consequences. Most addicts know full well the negative consequences. And don’t engage in enabling behaviors for addicts. There is a difference between loving and accepting a person, and approving their dysfunctional behavior.
It is important that you come from a place of love and care for the person, and at the same time, sharing your concern about the negative consequences of addiction. Try to influence and lead by example rather than trying to control or change someone else.
Don’t be ashamed to accept your limitations with helping this person. Seek outside help if need be and help your loved one overcome the disease of addiction. We recommend researching various drug treatment programs to find out which is best suited for the condition that requires treatment. Contact Treatment Centers XL to get the help you or a loved one needs today.