Why Won’t the Addict Stop Using Drugs?
Loving an addict is a daily lesson in powerlessness. You want the addict to stop using drugs, and it’s completely beyond your comprehension why he or she won’t. You probably have tried everything from begging and pleading to threatening and setting ultimatums.
To you, the solution should be so simple. There are plenty of programs the addict could get involved in. He or she could get help from doctors, ministers, counselors and support groups. There are treatment facilities geared to people who are wealthy and to people who are struggling financially. Even if lack of insurance is a factor, Narcotics Anonymous and other 12-step programs don’t require anything other than a desire to give up drinking and drugging.
That is exactly the heart of why the addict won’t get help. The addict can’t stop using drugs until he or she has the desire to stop, and not one minute before.
Denial in Addiction
One of the most common characteristics of drug addicts is they deny that they have a problem. It seems everyone can see that there is something wrong — except the addict. Addiction is the only disease that tries to tell you that you don’t have it. If you are actively abusing drugs, you want to believe that the problem isn’t really there, or that it isn’t that big of a problem. You want to believe you can control how much or how often you use.
Addicts can’t control their addiction, and neither can those who love them.
When you love an addict, his or her compulsion to keep using when everything is falling apart all around is completely baffling. Addicts offer many reasons and excuses why they won’t stop using drugs.
Many Reasons Addiction Continues
Addicts continue to use drugs even when their relationships, job, health or self-respect are at risk. They may not be able to picture their life without being able to use alcohol or drugs. On some level they are aware they have no coping skills. They don’t have any idea how to face life if they have to feel all their feelings, so they keep chasing the euphoria.
An addict may delude himself or herself into believing that no one knows that drug abuse is occurring. He or she may think that going to NA meetings might be damaging to his or her reputation. The secret would be out. Their neighbors would know. Their boss would know. Their family would know. The addict concludes that it would be much easier to just keep on numbing the pain and pretending that no one knows.
More Reasons or Excuses Not to Get Help
Some addicts believe they simply don’t have time to go into treatment. They believe their career or family responsibilities take up too much of their time and that the time required to go through a treatment program is more time than they have available.
Recovering from addiction doesn’t happen instantly, but some addicts use a single failed attempt at recovery as an excuse to give up. They may be convinced that treatment options simply won’t work for them. Or they might be afraid of going through the process of recovery. Because fear is running their lives, they keep insisting that recovery won’t work.
Addicts typically feel the need to be in control of their own destiny and don’t want to do the things that are suggested in treatment or support groups. They don’t want anyone to tell them what to do and they insist that they have things under control.
Like many other types of problems, sometimes people who are struggling with addiction hope it will simply go away if they ignore it. They think they might wake up one day able to face life without relying on chemicals.
Addiction doesn’t simply go away. Those that can’t admit they have a problem can’t get well. At the same time, when you love an addict, you can’t force recovery to happen. You can offer suggestions and support, but in the end it’s up to the addict to choose when or if he or she will be ready to accept help.
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