For friends and loved ones of a struggling addict, understanding the disease can be confusing. Many people think that their friend or loved one can just quit. Sadly, this isn’t the truth. If you want to understand the mind of an addict, you first have to know what addiction is like. Check out what it’s like to get inside the mind of a drug addict.
Get Inside the Mind of an Addict
I Wish I Could Stop
Those who have never experienced addiction first-hand wonder if it’s a choice to use drugs. The first use may be a choice but a full-blown addict often wishes more than anything that he/she could stop using. When your life is crumbling down around you, you’re not using drugs in some act of rebellion. It’s a compulsion spurred by physical dependency and not easy to overcome alone.
The Fear of Withdrawal
If someone said to you that you could be healthy and successful but all you had to do was endure excruciating pain and debilitating mental anguish for a week or longer, it wouldn’t be that easy to leap up and volunteer. The most common fear inside the mind of a drug addict is the pain (both physical and mental) of enduring the detox and all its associated withdrawal pain. This alone often keeps many addicts from seeking recovery.
I Can’t Quiet these Demons
The mind of an addict is riddled with obsessive thoughts of all kinds, mainly related to scoring the next fix. Non-addicts are often confused as to why a person struggling with substance abuse can’t see the damage being done or make the clear choice to get out. It’s hard to think clearly or see the forest for the trees when your mind is constantly obsessing over the next fix, the icky feelings, the paranoia… it’s a nasty spiral that limits reasonable decision making.
Leading the Double Life
Inside the mind of a drug addict, a great deal of time, energy, and effort goes into maintaining an addiction and often feels like living two lives. Hiding the addiction from loved ones becomes paramount in order to maintain some semblance of a real life while secretly struggling alone inside your room or your head with the obsessive needs of a full-blown addiction. So much guilt and shame is associated with addiction that most addicts confine themselves to a distant solitude where few can reach them to try and help. It’s a lot of wasted energy maintaining the illusion and leaves little room for intelligent choices or creative thinking.
Wishing for Courage
Most addicts want help but are afraid to ask for it and spend lonely nights wishing for the courage to talk to someone honestly about the addiction or reach for a helping hand. There is a lot of judgment in our culture towards addicts, even those looking for a way out, and the fear, embarrassment, and shame are sometimes stronger than the desire to quit. This is why it can be hard to get out alone without someone helping or posing an intervention of some kind. An addict is fighting more than drugs; they’re fighting themselves.
The Emotional Roller Coaster
A drug addiction pins a person down to a broiling pit of complex emotions and confusing thoughts. You go from pain and shame to depression and back to anger, it’s all very dizzying and confusing. Many addicts just wish they could feel genuine happiness again but it seems so far away. The only pathways to any sense of happiness are the drugs or drink. Everyone else seems to walk in this light-hearted ease of balanced emotions while the addict is trapped in a funhouse no one can understand or relate to. They don’t want to hurt loved ones and feel awful about it but the control of their own actions and feelings is beyond them in the midst of an addiction.
Getting Inside the Mind of a Drug Addict Can Help You Understand
It’s important for non-addicts and the loved ones that surround a struggling addict to come to get inside the mind of an addict and understand it. It’s not as easy as just “stop using drugs” or “get some help.” You’re climbing out of a deep pit and it usually requires someone to throw you a rope or climb down in there and carry you out. Looking for substance abuse treatment options for them is a good first step. Most importantly, compassion and understanding will go a long way to helping your loved one recover from a serious drug addiction.