It isn’t just the addict
Reading on Medium, I am very aware that some people have had a family member who is or was an addict. Drugs and alcohol are the usual, although nicotine is the most addictive substance.
I seem to attract addicts. Usually alcoholics who are not quite there yet. Maybe it’s because I have no addictions, maybe it’s because I am a “strong person” according to my friends.
Addiction starts the first time a lie is told in order to obtain the drink or drug. The lie may be about staying longer at school or work, going to the gym or meeting a friend. Lies will become normal for the addict. Deception is part and parcel of addiction.
The second thing that happens is that someone covers for the person who is becoming addicted. They rationalize, make excuses, or confirm the lie. They do this, not realizing how dangerous their complicity is. They have no idea about addiction.
Addiction is a family disease.
- This pattern carries on, possibly periodically at first. Other times it is continuous.
- After a while, others adapt to the behavior and treat it as normal. We call these people codependent. The need of the “normal” to continue. They are unwilling to address it or even notice.
- We call the people who cover for the addict “enablers”.
All the while, the addiction is growing and more people cover for the addict, accept the behavior, or deny to themselves that it is going on. The addict, above all, denies their problem.
With alcohol, the person is seen as a party person, drinking more than others. In time, they hide alcohol in different places.
With drug addiction, the addict gathers phone numbers of dealers and friends who will supply what they require. A network begins.
While this is going on, the people who don’t knowthe addict well will believe the lies and be unaware of the deceptions. If asked for a tiny loan, they will give it but never see their money again. People will like the addict, become friends and buy them drinks as they never seem to have enough money for one.
Alcoholics will empty dregs from glasses at bars or beer gardens into one glass and drink it. They can hide their drinking by having places to hide it or people who will supply it. The same goes with drugs.
If an addict ever reaches the point that they want to stop, the whole family will need help. There are many behaviors that need to change. The lies need to stop. Patterns that formed must be broken. It is a long process.
By this time, at least one family member will have estranged. Sometimes it is the addict, other times the one who could see what was happening. Friends will feel anger, relief, surprise, all sorts of feelings.
The hardest thing is the denial of the family. They will not believe the truth. They choose to believe the lies.