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Drinking and Drugs: He Promised to Stay Straight

He quit using and I believed him when he said he would never do it again, what kind of fool does that make ME?

Image by Mourner via Flickr

Many clients ask this question.  I tell them that there are lots of reasons why people who have quit alcohol and/or other drugs, return to them again. 

When clients come to me for an addiction evaluation, one of the things I look for is whether or not they’ve been through treatment before and stayed straight for a period of time.  I look for this because if they’ve managed to stay straight even for only a few months, that tells me something very important.  It tells me that they sincerely wanted to be straight . . . to no longer use mood-altering substances!  How do I know this?  Because it takes an incredible amount of hard work to stay straight when one has been used to medicating their feelings.

Do you love an alcoholic or an addict?  Have they gotten off their drug of choice only to return to it again a few months later?  Does that make you a fool?  Absolutely not!  It simply means that both you and your beloved alcoholic/addict have got more than your share of work cut-out for you!  Are you up for the challenge?  I don’t know.  Standing by someone when they’re doing well is one thing.  Standing by them when they fall is quite another.  Particularly if they stumble and fall more than once.  You’re going to have to be willing to swallow your pride (as if you haven’t done that already) and get help for yourself, too!  Why?

Addiction is a family illness.  No one can love and live with an addict/alcoholic and not get sick, too.  That is simply the nature of addiction.  Loved ones of the alcoholic/addict grow ill with resentment, rage, and an entire host of other forms of emotional pain.  It’s a lot tougher for the loved one because they don’t get to numb their pain with alcohol and/or other drugs like the addict does! 

Addiction is an insidious illness that lurks deep inside just waiting for the opportunity to spring into action when the addict has quit using.  It can take very little to trigger that whole vicious cycle of cravings all over again.  If the addict is sharing a living environment with another person, that person must take care of their end of the problem as well.  It’s not about whether or not you asked for the problem and it’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong.  It’s no different than cancer in that it attacks without any justification.  Like cancer, it is that powerful.  It doesn’t need any justification.

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