The Addict And You


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          So can you spot the crazy already? We have gone over some of the more difficult ones but today, we are going to spot the obvious pink elephant in the room. We can say it is a disease. We can say it is a lack of self-control. We can say that it disrupts individual lives, relationships, families, communities and nations. The reality is addiction is this and so much more. The important thing is to learn how to spot that crazy and make sure you are clear of the fall out.

          Lee says: This post is assuming that you aren’t the crazy here. This post is assuming a lot. As an addiction professional that has seen all types of addiction at all stages of the disease, I can safely say I am pretty good at spotting the elephant in the room. So I will share with you my tricks of the trade. I will share with you my limited wisdom concerning this affliction. Just to be clear, the afflicted are the people who surround the addicted and not the identified patient.

          We will start easy. Ask yourself: ‘Does this person get in trouble with the law, work, family…(any authority in their life)’? If you answered yes, then you are looking at a person with a problem. Many people interpret ‘problems with the law’ as a DUI or an arrest of some kind. The reality is that if someone receives a DUI, they have a problem. Which brings us to a very important point when discussing addiction; levels of use.

          Use: The term ‘Use’ refers to anyone who uses a substance in moderation, responsibly and without deleterious effects of themselves or others. This would be the person having a glass of wine at dinner or a mixed drink at a happy hour. Most people fall into these categories. However, in the case of drugs, recreational use is very subjective and would require a professional interpretation. 

          Abuse: The term ‘Abuse’ refers to anyone failing to fulfilling their responsibilities, recklessness like driving while intoxicated, legal issues and continuing the use of the substance despite all these problems. 

          Dependency: We diagnose dependency when the person’s usage begins to be obsessive and compulsive. In other words, the person craves the substance and spends the time when not using the substance trying to obtain the substance. People who are dependent also suffer from withdrawals and show a complete lack of control when using.

          By the end of this, you will be a professional! O.K., so we have someone getting in trouble with the law. Does that make them a friend of Lohan? Not necessarily. A person can easily be labeled as abusing a substance after a really good party where they got drunk, puked and had to call in sick to work. Now, if you do that every week or day, then you have a reason to seek help. However, in the case where you are the designated driver to these people and they do this often, then we need to have a little discussion about being a doormat.

          A very big red flag that needs to be raised when you are in relationship with someone who may have an addiction is if they ask you to keep secrets for them. For example, if you are asked to keep in confidence a brush with the law, issues with money or other shames, then you have moved into the position of caretaker of someone with a burgeoning problem. Hiding their stash. Lying for them. Covering for them. All of those activities are the designated job of the enabler and you are now a co-dependent.

          Look, this isn’t easy. I don’t want to make this sound like you will read this and voila, you are no longer co-dependent. We do a lot of fucked up things when we think we are in love. However, and I know some of you will wince at this, but we need to remember that we must always love ourselves just a little bit more. This isn’t being selfish, its self-preservation. 

          Paul says: I love myself as often as possible. What are we talking about?

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