Category: Addiction

am I an addict

Am I Addicted? 5 Signs You Might Be an Addict

In the United States, 54 million people 12 and older have admitted to using drugs that weren’t prescribed to them. 

There’s nothing wrong with relaxing at the end of the day with your choice of healthy and safe activity. Having a good time isn’t criminal, and as long as you’re responsible, moderation is key.

This chain of thought extends to every aspect of our lives, not just drugs, and alcohol. Sitting down and binging Netflix after a long day of work isn’t a big deal. But sitting down for weeks on end without the drive or desire to do anything different is a problem.

Have you ever looked at one of your behaviors and wondered “am I an addict?” If you have, keep reading. We’re taking a closer look at the fine line between enjoyment and addiction.

How Important Is It?

Let’s talk about drug use. You might feel as though you’ve got everything under control and that you only use on occasion, a recreational thing. But it’s time to be honest with yourself.

How important has this behavior become to your life? Do you do it all the time? Does it stop you from doing other things?

Where do you place it on your priority list?

If it’s pretty high up there, it might be an addiction.

How Often Do You Do It?

Is this behavior something you do more often and for longer than you initially planned? It all comes down to compulsion. If you feel like you always have to have more, there might be a problem.

How Do You Feel When You Stop?

Think about a time when you stopped using drugs or alcohol. How did it make you feel?

Were you uncomfortable? Anxious? Could you stop thinking about it?

Take a look at how you respond emotionally and physically to giving your habit a break. If you feel panicky or pained, it’s time to take a look at what kind of hold these behaviors have on you.

Does It Disrupt Your Life?

Another good rule of thumb for addiction is taking a look at the things that the behavior has disrupted. If you choose to spend your time high or drunk instead of going to work or spending time with your friends or family, take a look at why that is.

If you regularly carve time out of your schedule for your addictive behaviors, what are you cutting out?

Can You Stop?

And last, let’s ask the most basic question. Can you stop?

It’s a knee-jerk reaction for most people. They’ll always say yes. But really be honest with yourself here.

If you think beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can stop, you might be in the clear. Maybe you need to cut back a little bit, but people with a true addiction cannot stop the thing they’re addicted to.

However, if you think you would have a hard time stopping, it’s time to see help.

Am I an Addict?: Get Help Today

If you find yourself asking the question “am I an addict” don’t worry, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans deal with addiction every day. There is help around every corner, all you have to do is search for it.

The first step is admitting to yourself that you have a problem. If any of this sounds like you, take a look at the available treatment programs and get help today.

spouse of an addict

5 Tips For Coping When You’re The Spouse Of An Addict

Lifeguard training 101.

There are two small steps critical to passing every emergency test scenario.

Many have had to re-take entire courses because they forget these two, vital components.

Dramatic rescue situations can make it difficult to remember important details. Tests with multiple-person saves or anything involving head, neck and back injuries require special procedures.

Nervous trainees tend to jump in the water at a swimmer’s first sign of distress. The moment they do, they fail the test.

What crucial steps are they missing? And what does this have to do with being the spouse of an addict?

So glad you asked.

Living as the Spouse of an Addict: The Missing Details that Cost Survival

Every team of aquatic directors has what’s known as an emergency action plan (EAP). A group of knowledgeable people put this plan together so that in the event of an emergency, a simple signal from a lifeguard activates an entire chain of events.

One person clears patrons out of harm’s way, while another helps with the rescue, while another stands by the phone ready to call an ambulance, while another comforts the families of the loved one in crisis, while another grabs the first aid kit… you get the picture.

If a lifeguard fails to give the EAP signal before a rescue commences, he/she is putting themselves and the lives of their patrons at great risk.

The second important detail starts as a sad truth. Drowning people are notorious killers.

It doesn’t matter how well a lifeguard can swim. If a panicked swimmer grabs hold of someone without a flotation device, they’re both going down!

This analogy is full of significance and translates almost effortlessly to situations involving loved-ones who struggle with addiction.

Let’s unpack some of this rich application together.

1. Community: Your EAP

When a spouse or loved one is struggling with addiction, it is vital to have a close, trustworthy community of at least 2 or more people.

One common theme of addiction is that it is closely linked to cycles of untruths. Often, lies told by the one struggling become so thick that the person telling them cannot even keep track of what is true.

The spouses of such persons will need consistent reminders of truth as the one struggling will try to cover up or make excuses for their decisions to engage in addictive behaviors.

The one struggling will often view your confiding in a friend or community as a betrayal. It will be difficult to convince them otherwise.

Be prepared for this, and be both gentle and unrelenting that it is your right to pull your support systems close during difficult times.

If you have trustworthy friends with whom you are comfortable sharing intimate truths, wonderful! You already know who to call.

However, married couples tend to isolate when times get rough. Perhaps you have pushed everyone away in your attempt to protect your loved one and hide from the unhappy truths that daily knock at your door.

Fortunately, there are many resources to choose from. Support groups, confidential online chatrooms, and meetings within spiritual organizations serve as places to process communally.

2. A Clear Commitment to Personal Health

Drowning people were given a pretty strong bad-rap in the first section. Of course, no one would consciously ask the person they love to die with them.

But when someone is panicked and drowning, they only have one thought.

“Keep your head above water at all cost.”

Through a commitment to personal health and wellness, you extend the “life tube” of hope to someone drowning in addiction.

To approach the situation any other way is to elongate the amount of time that the addiction persists. You enable the addiction when it is possible for your spouse to have both you and the addictive substance/process simultaneously.

As your loved-one goes through the process of rehab, they will need your affirmation and support. If you have neglected your own personal health, you will be incapable of constructive support when it is most useful.

Throughout the process, welcome your loved-one into your commitment to health.

“Hey babe, I am going on a jog. Would you like to join me?” or “I’m choosing not to stay inside this evening. Would you like to go on a double date with your friends?”

If he/she makes a decision not to join you, that is entirely their choice, but you have already behaved in a way that welcomes them into your healthy space.

Write up a regimen. Call an accountability partner. Does the day transform from gloomy to sunny after you’ve spent a good hour at the gym? Go daily.

Is your soul titillated when you read a well-written book? Excellent! Hide away four times a week and read.

This section on good health would be incomplete without addressing tears.

Contrary to popular belief, crying is healthy. Cry as much as you can; it is the farthest thing from weakness.

Your tears are a sign of deep grief, empathy, and often anger that things are not as they should be.

Friend, if your loved one is suffering under the weight of addiction, things are not as they should be. It is not the way of love to accept them as such. So, wear your tears proudly.

Fun fact: tears are our bodies natural way of processing and expelling the emotions discussed above. Stuff your tears and you will carry them until you cry them.

3. Know the Possible Outcomes Ahead of Time

Addiction effects marriage in cruel and decisive ways. It takes two people who have made commitments of honesty and vulnerability and makes a mockery of their commitment.

One of the first things a person will do when they believe their spouse is lying is check their husband/wife’s phone.

If they find nothing, they experience a mix of guilt and relief.

If they find their suspicions are true, they feel guilt and justified anger.

Save yourself the guilt! Become an expert in your spouse’s struggle, no snooping involved.

Whether it’s alcohol, drugs, gambling, shopping, or pornography, addiction tends to follow predictable patterns.

Know the substances, the processes, and the different stages involved.

It is a mercy to your spouse if you are aware of where their struggle with addiction might lead. It may also help take the sting out of your being shocked by their behavior.

Part of the rehab process at most treatment centers is confessing one’s addiction behavior to spouses and lloved ones

It can serve as another form of self-care and protection to already have a good guess of where your spouse’s struggle has taken them before their moment of confession arrives.

4. Avoid Shaming Comments and Behavior

Think about addiction for a moment.

How many children do you know who are considering a life of addiction when they grow up?

It’s an absurd thought. No one desires a life of addiction.

If you were to ask anyone who is struggling with an addiction if this is the life they truly want for themselves? No one in a position of genuine vulnerability would say “yes.”

The truth is, addiction most naturally springs from places of deep shame. Layering shame on top of it will only bury the source deeper and increase a spouse’s appetite for the comforting addictive substance/process.

Decide as soon as possible, is health your aim? Or is it more important to save face?

It will be difficult when friends and acquaintances learn the truth of what is going on. Long sessions of rehab are particularly precarious to avoid in conversation.

There are endless sources of shame vying for the attention of your spouse, refuse to join the throng.

5. Understand that it Takes Time

Have you ever been awed by the power of a large waterfall?

They all begin as tiny streams that could be easily dammed or diverted.

When looking at a small stream, it seems absurd to think that one day it could become a Niagara Falls changing the shape of the earth the river below and eating a cliff into the rock and sediment beneath it!

This is the power of repetition.

Cycles of addiction function in the same manner.

Think of the brain activity as the water in the stream. What begins as a few small choices can end in a situation completely outside the addict’s actual ability to stop… without major reconstruction.

No one who pops a few small white pills ever imagines one day they’ll shoot poison into their veins for relief.

No one who throws up that second piece of cake imagines that one day they won’t be able to hold down a spinach salad.

Know what to expect with addiction, rehab, and possible relapse.

Addiction changes brains. It takes large amounts of time and radical re-positioning to find a different path that the “water” will be more apt to take.

Ready to find a Rehab Center?

The spouse of addict can have peace of mind when their loved one is at Pathways Treatment and Recovery Center in Florida. They have a variety of treatment program options, and their experts are committed to helping clients find wholeness and stability.

Check out what we treat and send us a message for more information.

What is a High Functioning Addict? How to Spot the Signs

high functioning addict

When the subject of addiction comes up, many people immediately jump to the stereotypes. They tend to imagine the down-and-out derelict or the flamboyant rock-bottom moments we see on TV. The truth of the matter is more complex.

The image of all addicts displaying these very drastic sign is just another myth. In reality, there is a very good chance that someone who struggles with addiction is a high functioning addict.

What is a High Functioning Addict?

High functioning addicts are people who are addicted to a substance but still project an outward appearance of normalcy.

Functioning addicts eschew the stereotype of someone who has completely lost control of their life. Almost all are steadily employed, and many even enjoy high degrees of professional success. Many even maintain active social lives and successfully hide their addictions from those closest to them.

But despite outward appearances, their struggles are both real and dangerous. Most high functioning addicts cannot sustain their habits indefinitely. Even those few who can still suffer damage to their health, relationships, and quality of life.

Functioning Addicts are Becoming More Common

Research seems to indicate that incidences of functional addiction are becoming more the norm. A 2007 study on alcohol abuse found that 19.5% of all U.S. alcoholics were considered “functioning”. That translates to about 4 million functional alcoholics.

Experts like Dr. Mark Willenbring, former Director of Recovery Research at the NIAAA, have pointed out that the face of addiction has changed.

“Alcoholism isn’t what it used to be,” Dr. Willenbring explains. “We think of it as this really dramatic, debilitating disorder, but actually there is a wide range of alcoholism, from moderate drinking to at-risk drinking. Every alcoholic isn’t Mel Gibson or Lindsey Lohan–people who are really train wrecks.”

Instead, the signs of the functional addict tend to be more subtle, and the advancement of the addiction more incremental. As Dr. Willenbring explained further:

“Many high-functioners try to set limits but inevitably they go over them. They want to quit but they can’t. They might suffer from hangovers, insomnia, or heartburn, but they don’t experience the same life-disrupting problems that befall other addicts.”

While these studies and interviews examined alcoholics in particular, similar trends are found among other substance abusers.

Understanding that addiction can take many appearances is crucial to understanding a high functioning addict. Young, old, rich, or poor, addiction doesn’t discriminate.

Addiction in the Workplace

High functioning addicts are defined in part by their ability to maintain stable and successful careers. In fact, several high-powered and high-stress occupations have a tendency to foster addiction.

Emergency Healthcare Professionals

Doctors and nurses working in high-stress settings are at higher risk for drug abuse issues. Their intense work environments make drug use attractive. Their easy access to powerful medications make abuse feasible, sometimes to a tragic degree.

Law Enforcement

Law enforcement officials suffer drug and alcohol addiction at between two and three times the national average rate. The reasons for this are much the same as for healthcare professionals. The ready availability of drugs seized during operations and the high-stress nature of the job makes substance abuse an easy and attractive coping mechanism.

Lawyers

Research shows that lawyers suffer alcohol abuse at about twice the rate of the national average. While the study was less conclusive about rates of drug abuse, there is significant conjecture that rates are similarly problematic.

Anecdotal statements lay the blame on the long hours many lawyers work. Many lawyers will drink heavily to cope with the stress, only to turn around and use hard stimulants to maintain their focus.

These three examples illustrate the primary risk factor for developing a functioning addiction. The pressure to perform a difficult job efficiently can entice someone to cope with that stress in unhealthy ways. The temptation is only exacerbated by easy access to addictive substances.

Signs of a High Functioning Addict

High functioning addicts tend to be very good at hiding their problems. Many fear that if they are found out, their careers or reputations will suffer.

The facade is rarely ever perfect, however. Here are some signs of a high functioning addict:

Excuses and Denial

The most basic behavior that almost all addicts exhibit is denial. The only difference with a high functioning addict is that their denial may actually sound reasonable.

Many will justify their substance abuse by saying things like “I work hard, I deserve to have some fun once in a while.” This alone doesn’t sound outrageous. Many people like to unwind after a hard day’s work, so pressing the issue can leave one open to charges of hypocrisy.

Alternatively, they may specifically cite their work, saying things like “You need to drink/take drugs to do this job”. This is a more obvious red flag, as no job should require habitual substance abuse to be bearable.

In any case, breaking down these excuses often proves particularly challenging. Many high functioning addicts use them to convince themselves as much as anyone else.

Deteriorating Appearance

This sign usually appears during late-stage addiction. But as one of the more visible signs, it is an easy one to spot.

As the draining effects of addiction start to take their toll, you will likely notice that someone no longer takes care of their appearance. While one day they were neat and professional, the next they may appear shaggy and unkempt.

This is because as an addiction drags on, an addict’s physical health will suffer, and they will tend to have less energy to devote to their own upkeep. Look for disheveled clothes and poorly kept skin and hair. Women may compensate by overusing makeup to conceal their declining appearance.

Using More of a Substance than Intended

This sign on its own is not always indicative of a greater problem. Many people who only drink occasionally will go out for “one drink”, only to have that one become several. It becomes a problem when that scenario becomes the rule rather than the exception.

Addicts, by definition, are unable to control their substance intake. If someone seems otherwise normal but routinely overindulges, it may be a sign of a problem.

Isolation

This is another trait that tends to show itself in the late stages of addiction. It should be especially alarming if it is a significant deviation from their normal behavior.

If someone who used to be very active in their work, family, or community suddenly closes themselves off from others, that should be a red flag. As addictions progress, addicts will often only have time for getting their next dose. Everything else, including relationships, gets shoved to the back burner.

Enabling Relationships

This tends to be an issue for all addicts but is a particular problem for high functioning addicts. Addicts tend to congregate together, both for the sake of validating their bad behavior and for sharing sources of drugs.

This can be problematic for high functioning addicts who work in enabling environments. It is not uncommon for a high functioning addict to deny having a problem on the grounds that “everyone they work with uses more than they do”. This is not normal and should be a big warning sign.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal is an undeniable symptom of addiction. Nausea, anxiety, headache, sweating, and fatigue are all common withdrawal symptoms.

A high functioning addict may chalk these up to mundane illness or just not being a morning person. If they become routine, however, it could be a sign of physiological dependency.

These symptoms can appear when an addict tries to get clean themselves. Aside from recovery being exceedingly difficult without treatment, withdrawal from some substances can have life-threatening complications. For this reason, the appearance of withdrawal symptoms makes it extremely urgent for the addicted person to get professional help.

Loss of Interest in Hobbies and Pastimes

This symptom goes hand-in-hand with. If someone who was once an avid musician of active community member suddenly gives up on something they were passionate about, it could be a sign that their addiction is beginning to sap all their extra time and energy.

Failing Memory

Memory issues are common in alcoholics but can occur with other forms of substance abuse as well. Addicts may experience episodes where they have either an incomplete memory or no memory whatsoever of certain moments. This should be a call to get immediate help. Loss of memory indicates that the substance abuse is already affecting a person’s normal brain functions.

Unexplained Financial Issues

Addiction doesn’t come cheap. Most addicts will end up in financial trouble, often turning to loved ones to enable them. As many high functioning addicts are seemingly successful, it’s even more obvious.

If someone with a well-paying job and few major expenses frequently finds themselves in financial trouble, it’s clear that something is going on behind the scenes. It may be that as an addiction becomes unmanageable, they are beginning to fall behind financially.

Neglecting Responsibilities

This sign tends to appear as an addict loses their ability to function. Once the addiction becomes the center of their life, an addict will often begin to shirk their responsibilities.

This is easy to spot in a high functioning addict. A formerly focused and motivated individual will begin shirking work, financial responsibilities, and familial obligations.

Getting Help for a Functioning Addict

As with all forms of addiction, the most important thing is to remember that a high functioning addict is not a lost cause. With love, support, and treatment, recovery is possible. Visit our blog to learn more about addiction and recovery.

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-433-2254.

Enabling and Empowering

Earlier this fall, we shared about enabling and how this act can prolong a fight with substance abuse. The opposite of enabling is empowering. When you feel empowered, you gain self-confidence, determination and possess a better attitude.

Many of our clients have shared stories about how, when they are in their addiction, they are powerless against the cravings for drugs or alcohol. The need for more guides their lives at all costs. One client recently spoke to a group of high school students and explained to them how the desire for drugs can take over and ruin your life. This desire makes you not care about school, work, your family and friends…all things that most people highly value.

Now in recovery, the client explained how she feels empowered without the presence of drugs in her life. She is rebuilding relationships; she is making and achieving goals. With each accomplishment, she feels more and more confident and determined.

While you may feel like you are helping your loved one when you enable them, this will do more harm than good. Encourage them to get treatment; to become empowered.

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.

Three substance abuse myths

Our society is full of myths and the internet and social media seems to those at a faster rate than ever before. The same is true of substance abuse – there are many myths about this disease.

Drugabuse.com has a list of 10 common myths. Today we’ll look at three.

1 – Addiction is a moral failure 
We cannot deny that the use of an illicit drug is a poor decision. The expression “curiosity killed the cat” somewhat applies – for many, the curiosity of what it feels like to drink or experience the high of a drug is very tempting. Many will try a drug once and never again, their curiosity has been satisfied. Others will use again, but opt not to make it part of their lifestyle. Finally, there will be a group that becomes hooked on the drug. Is this a moral failure?

Millions of individuals became dependent on and addicted to the medications prescribed to them by their physician. This is certainly not a moral failure.

Addiction is caused by the body’s inability to process the drug/alcohol. The body becomes dependent on the substance causing severe withdrawal when the substance is not present.

2 – Addicts are easy to identify
Stereotyping has given people a certain image of those with an addiction. Many people envision the homeless man carrying his drink in a brown paper bag, minorities and criminals as the groups of people who they associate as addicts.

In reality, substance abuse impacts all socio economic groups and races. The CDC reports that rates of use among non-Hispanic whites nearly double all other groups. While not all individuals with a substance use disorder are criminals, criminal activity is often fueled by the need to get drugs. Finally, individuals making between $20,000 and $49,000 are showing rates of use that are higher than those who make less than $20,000.

3 – Relapse is a failure
Many people believe that because a person has relapse, they have failed. In reality, relapse is often part of the recovery process – see related blog.

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.

Addiction, the equal opportunity disease

While some diseases seem to target certain demographics and socio economic groups, addiction is what we call the equal opportunity disease. Statistics say it is more likely that women will be diagnosed with breast cancer than men; men under the age of 65 are more likely to have high blood pressure than women of the same age. A national study reports that children from lower income families had more than two times higher odds of being obese than children of higher income households.

Addiction impacts everyone. Often, individuals who begin drug/alcohol abuse at a young age make choices that limit future earnings potential – such as dropping out of high school and having limited job opportunities. We have treated many people who began their experimentation with drugs/alcohol during their college years. While many students will binge drink or try drugs, many “grow” out of this as they complete college and move into their professional lives. Others do not. Many professionals have come to our treatment programs for help, generally with an addiction to alcohol or prescription pain medication.

News reports commonly feature celebrities and athletes who have had struggles with substance abuse – Robin Williams, Amy Winehouse, Bret Favre, Brittany Spears, Elizabeth Vargas, Rush Limbaugh, Daryl Strawberry, and the list goes on and on.

If you or someone close to you is struggling with a substance abuse disorder, do not be ashamed…you are not alone.

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.

What is Recovery?

This month, we’ve been focusing on terms that are specific to the substance abuse treatment world. We’ve defined substance abuse and addiction, types of treatment: detox, residential or inpatient, and outpatient; methods of treatment: evidence-based, 12-Step and Faith Based. We shared the 12-Steps and provided additional information on the background of the steps. Now, it’s time to discuss the goal – recovery.

Many people debate if addiction is a disease or a moral issue. If they agree it is a disease, they want a cure. Sadly, there are many diseases that have no cures, but can be managed through behavioral habits, diet and exercise. Diabetes is one such disease that is very similar to addiction in many ways. If a person does not follow a diabetic diet and monitor their glucose levels, their health can rapidly deteriorate because their body cannot process sugar. Diabetics are never cured, but many live long, productive lives through management of the disease. Addiction is similar – there is no cure, but through behavioral change, addiction can be managed. In the treatment world, we call this recovery.

According to a 2007 article in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, “recovery is defined as a voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, personal health and citizenship.” It is important to note that the definition includes all three and that sobriety alone is not recovery. While sobriety is abstinence from drugs/alcohol, personal health leads to improved quality of life, including physical health, psychological health, independence and spirituality. Finally, citizenship is the demonstration of regard and respect for others.

Recovery is an on-going process. There is no timetable on how long it will take an individual to reach a life of recovery – each person is different with different motivating factors. Recovery, especially in the newer phases, needs to be nurtured. This is most commonly done by attending aftercare and 12-Step meetings. The goal is lifelong recovery.

Regardless if you are living a life of recovery, or simply maintaining an abstinence from drugs or alcohol, the term used when abstinence is not maintained is relapse. Relapse will be the topic of our next blog.

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.

Defining treatment terms

I caught up with an old friend the other day. For the most part, the encounter was much like when you see a friend for the first time after several years have lapsed. How are you, how is the family, where are you working, what is your job there…?

This particular friend had no knowledge of the substance abuse treatment system and I realized as I saw the blank look on her face that I’d lost her, as if I was speaking a foreign language. That led to an “ah-ha” moment as I thought, how many of our readers have no idea what the terms mean when we are blogging about substance abuse and recovery. That said, our September theme will define many of our treatment terms.

We’ll start with two of the basics, substance abuse and addiction. We’re also going to cheat a little and refer you back to a blog we published earlier this year entitled, “Substance abuse or addiction, which is it?” This piece goes into detail to provide a simple, but comprehensive definition of each and their distinguishing characteristics.

In short, addiction is a physical dependency to a foreign substance – this could range from tobacco to heroin and anything in between. The physical dependency means the body craves the drug and goes into withdrawal symptoms when it is not there.

Substance abuse can be a phase in the process. Many people abuse drugs, but not all become addicted to the substance. One may drink heavily over the weekend, but not drink again for weeks or months. Prescription drugs are abused when they are not used as medically intended, by the person who holds the prescription.

Next week, we’ll look at three types of treatment, detox, residential and outpatient and explain the difference between each.

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.

 

What happens when addiction rears its ugly head at work?

For individuals who are able to function at a very high level despite an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it is often co-workers who are the last to suspect or know of a problem. Earlier this spring, I heard the story of a sales person who was an alcoholic. She recorded the highest sales figures in her region and was given an award for this honor at a national company conference. In front of peers and superiors, she took the stage to accept her award, which was a weeklong tropical vacation. She left no doubt in anyone’s mind, as she stumbled to the stage, slurred her words and stumbled back to her seat, that she had far too much to drink.

While a situation like this is quite embarrassing, it can be chalked up to several things – for someone who does not drink often and has a low tolerance, this could be the effect of a glass of wine or Champagne. This event, after all, was a celebration.

As the story was told, the woman received her award and booked her vacation. Midway through the trip, the company officials received a call from the resort informing them of an issue. The woman was being asked to vacate the hotel due to drunk and disorderly conduct on property. Upon returning to work the following week, she was dismissed from her position.

When we see our co-workers day in and day out, we may detect there is a problem. However, in this woman’s case, she worked in outside sales. She did most of her work in other people’s offices, often having lunches or dinners with clients, many involved having a drink. Her clients loved her and never reported seeing her overindulge. However, the company did not feel they could take the risk of exposing business clients to an incident similar to the company conference or vacation.

While each work environment and culture is different, many corporations offer support through a substance abuse policy. If you think about major sports organizations such as the National Football League or Major League Baseball, players who are identified as having illegal substances in their system are often suspended and mandated to treatment before they can play again. Future violations may have stronger penalties, but the initial report often results in an attempt to help. Meanwhile, other corporations may have a zero-tolerance policy. Companies who mandate substance abuse treatment for employees can also make recommendations of residential (inpatient) treatment, or outpatient if the employee is expected to continue working during the treatment period. They may even designate a specific treatment center.

Related blog:  Addiction in the Workplace

Pathways can work with employers and provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.

 

Understanding and relating to your family member with an addiction

Many families go through life without addiction making an impact on their immediate family. If there is no history of addiction in the family, most people do not know how to understand or relate to the family member who is challenged with a substance abuse problem.

A common question is, “why can’t they simply stop using/drinking?” Or, “why don’t they realize how they are throwing away their life?” Having a family member self-destruct due to substance abuse can be one of the most painful and exhausting experiences in life. You worry for their safety, for their future, for their livelihood. As parents, you’ve raised them to be strong and independent, yet for some reason, they’ve chosen drugs over other life obligations – work, family activities, school…

There are several approaches many family members take. Some will enable their loved one, giving them money for rent and utilities. Others take the tough-love approach demanding that they “straighten up” or all ties will be cut. While enabling is dangerous and allows the individual to continue use at the expense of those who care for them, family members maintain a bond, despite continued and persistent substance use. The tough-love approach has different psychological effects on the person with the issue. More often than not, those in treatment for a substance use issue report low self-esteem and isolation from family members. This can lead to depression and perpetuate continued use.

What can you do to help a family member?

1 – Learn about addiction and how people are physically dependent on the substances they are abusing.
2 – Speak to your family member about the issue – encourage them to admit they have a problem.
3 – Research treatment options in your area. In some cases, it is better to get treatment out of town where is no risk of running into someone familiar in the treatment setting.
4 – Encourage them to consider the options you found – but remember, this is their fight and they need to take ownership of it and do follow-up research. This can also lead to a sense of accomplishment and pride.
5 – Set boundaries of expected behavior and stick to these boundaries, regardless how challenging it is.
6 – Find a local support groups like al-anon or nar-anon so you can learn from others who are also experiencing similar situations with a family member and addiction.
7 – If they agree to go to treatment, participate in the treatment experience. Attend visitations and family therapy sessions.
8 – Make sure they know you support them in their fight to be well and lead a life of recovery.

Related Blog:  Addiction and Family

Pathways provides 28-day and extended care treatment programs for adults with substance use disorders. In addition to engaging clients in the 12-Step process, the program also focuses on setting boundaries, developing coping skills and handling trauma. If you, or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Pathways for more information at 855-349-5988.