When we think of substance abuse, we often imagine someone on the street hustling others for the next high. We feel sorry for them, but won’t even give them the time of day and may offer no understanding for their background or situation, we simply dismiss them. We think of the stories we’ve heard of a rebellious youth who partied too much and then got caught in the trap and ended up on the streets. However, many times the circumstances in the beginning of addiction do not always follow this stereotypical path. While yes, it is true that some people party too hard as kids just to experience something new and end up hooked, many people become hooked on harmful substances for a variety of reasons that may have started out with something as innocent as a doctor’s prescription for pain relief. Regardless of the reason, this is not something to disregard.
For instance, many commonly prescribed pain relievers are highly addictive and the body easily becomes hooked on them. When a person tries to get off of them, they find that they feel awful all over and instantly want to start taking them again believing that whatever was wrong in the first place is getting worse. So back on they go. Eventually, the doctor no long wishes to prescribe the medication (and rightfully so) and the patient, who has now been reliant on the meds for quite some time, is left out in the cold. Many will withstand the initial shock to their system, especially if they have followed instructions to taper off the meds slowly, but some will not be able to tolerate the pain they are in and look for something that will help for the mean time. They hear from their friends that a person they knew tried this or that thing and all was well so they give it a try. This situation can easily spiral downward as no one is keeping an eye on what they are taking (usually a person in this situation will not be informing their doctor) and may end up with substances that are not entirely comprised of what the person paid for in the first place. And before you know it, the person with a back ache from a recent surgery is now a closet junkie.
However, the above situation is only one situation, there are many. In example, peer pressure is still alive and well. Whether a teen in the school yard or a social gathering with adult friends, recreational drugs are often introduced and those who partake will often not wish to do so alone. “It is just one time. Come on, you have never tried it before so you really can’t say it wouldn’t be great!” is a typical phrase someone might hear in either situation. And sure, some people could try something once and never try it again. But bodies react differently to different substances and also not every recreational substance is going to be what it says it is (this is a risk one often takes in these situations). One time can very well mean an instant addiction. What seems like harmless fun one moment can turn into a person trying that “harmless” substance again next weekend at the get together, and maybe again the next, and then maybe a very generous friend leaves a bit behind for them and now they are having an off day at work or school and say sure why not, it was fun last time, I just need to relax. And bam.
There is also a difference between physical addiction and emotional addiction, and while each is unique in its own way, both are extremely potent. Substances that may not cause a physical addiction might still make the person feel so much better psychologically, that they return to the substance again and again, each time they have a difficult situation in their personal lives.
Addictions can start due to a variety of different reasons: troubled childhoods, pain relief, social pressure, rebellion, wanting to experiment and it going too far, etc. They can start very quickly and very easily, often wearing the mask of “it is safe”. This kind of thing can happen to ANYONE. Do not judge someone for where they are currently as you do not know what their journey was like; help them instead. Public services are there to help those with substance abuse issues who are trained in the correct procedures and can give someone the right tools to battle their addiction. Many people do not CHOOSE to be in the situations that they are in, they end up there. Do not make them feel guilty, that will only make them fall harder. It is very difficult to get out of this once it has started and they need support and firm guidance.
If you have ended up going down this road yourself, know that there are people out there that can help you to get yourself back. It won’t be easy and there may be relapses and struggles, but if you keep at it, you will get there. Find someone to be your mentor and a good support system. It would be great to find someone who has gone through the same problems as yourself and beaten them, as they will more fully understand what you are going through and how to help you. Do not try to do this alone.
Here are a few options for support and guidance:
Substance abuse in general
Prescription drug abuse
Drug and alcohol abuse
Shelter and housing
There are many other resources that can be found for you locally by doing a quick search on google. Do not feel overwhelmed. It is important to start SOMEWHERE, no matter how small a change, as this change will grow, it is simply important that you start.
When in the midst of an abusive situation, it may be difficult to think clearly and come up with a solution to remedy the abuse, while trying to implement it may feel almost impossible. However, given the right tools and the will power to create change, it most certainly is possible, even more so– it is probable. Many may feel overwhelmed and may not know where to start, but it is important to start somewhere.
Please continue to check in with us each week for a new post about abusive behavior and how it can affect your life and the lives of those around you. There is always that first action to helping someone you care about. Let this be it!
Author Bio - Anna Czarska is a writer and actor who has 15+ years of experience dealing with various situations of abuse. She has pursued business ventures and creative pursuits as well as spending time to study psychology in both formal and personal education. For more information, you may find her Linkedin profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kasiakraut/