You are lucky if you have never had any struggles with addiction. You will not have experienced the horrors of being an addict or wanting to stop but being unable to do so. Imagine something that is so powerful that it is able to use you. That is what it is like for people who are vulnerable to addiction. We take our first drug or drink voluntarily but then it starts to take over. A psychological dependency is developed – a mental and emotional process that is associated with addiction. An inebriated state becomes the new normal for the brain. The body also becomes physically dependent. Increasingly higher doses are needed for the same euphoric effect to be created. As tolerance continues to build up, signals get sent to the mid-brain which overrides the frontal lobe which is the part of the brain that is responsible for such executive functions as inhibition, impulse control, attention span, decision-making skills, judgment, and making plans for the future. The mid-brain area is responsible for survival. It is the fight or flight response. It receives the signal of ‘get high or die.’

The brain of a susceptible person responds to chemical stimulation differently compared to a non-addict. Most people can use alcohol and drugs without a lot of consequences. They do not like to feel out of control so they don’t over-indulge. However, people who struggle with addiction, they don’t feel out of control whenever they use alcohol or drugs. Perhaps for the first time in their lives, they feel like they are in control. They are uncomfortable when they are sober. They feel lonely in a crowd and feel different and separate from the people surrounding them They are outsiders looking in, observers. Something is missing. They try to feel the void with alcohol, drugs, porn, gaming, exercise, work, relationships, shopping, or food. Their first experience with substances or other types of mood-altering behaviors changes how they feel about themselves ad how they perceive the world around them. The feelings of happiness and euphoria are so powerful that people will chase these feelings for the rest of their lives As an individual who works with substance users and in long-term recovery, here are three important things you need to know about people who struggle with addiction.

Addiction lies within your own voice: It is easy to become addicted since no one knows this is what they are doing. People tell themselves they are having fun and that they need the substance to relax. They minimize the severity of their addiction by focusing on what they have still instead of what they have lost. For example, I have a job still. I still have a roof over my head. Alcoholics will say they only drink beer. Cocaine users will say they do not use meth. Meth addicts will say they only smoke drugs but don’t inject them. Pill poppers will say they don’t use heroin Addiction is denied in the scariest voice – your very own.

Addiction is not a weakness or moral failing. People who struggle with addiction are not bad, but they do tend to do bad things in order to maintain their habits. These people are just really sick. Addiction is a disease of the brain that results in the cerebral cortex being rewired and causes poor impulse control and judgment. It is manifested in using substances compulsively despite the harmful consequence. It is progressive and ends in recovery, death, institutionalization, or jail.

Those who struggle with addiction need to have an enabler in order to stay sick. Their enabler makes excuses for their loved ones which helps their addiction. They clean their messes up, keep their secrets, and loan them money. Enablers think they know their sick loved ones the best. However, in reality, they tend to be the easiest family member to manipulate. It is a one-sided relationship that makes it possible for an addicted individual to under-function and solely focus on the relationship they have with alcohol or drugs.