Alex started smoking pot as a middle schooler. Her friends had some, and she wanted to try it. Alex only smoked occasionally and with her friends at first. During high school, her parents divorced. Weed became more and more a part of her life, until Alex began using every day. The stress was just too much. Now, she is working a fulltime job, and she wants to stop. Alex knows she is spending too much money and too much time on weed. She also knows that she would be fired if her employer knew, but every time she has tried to cut back, within a few weeks, she is using every day again. Alex is wondering if this is an addiction and if she will ever be free.
“Addiction isn’t about substance—you aren’t addicted to the substance,
you are addicted to the alteration of mood that the substance brings.”
Could you resonate with Alex’s experiences? Maybe the substance is different. Maybe your addiction is a compulsive behavior. But as Susan Cheever says, the mood is the same. The cycle is the same. The coercion is the same. The face of addiction can be anything—cocaine, shopping, opioids, work, alcohol, cannabis, sex, video games, prescription drugs, Internet, and more. But below the surface, addiction functions in the same way—altering the chemical balance in people’s brains. Addiction is a serious illness, and just like many other diseases, like cancer or diabetes, it often requires treatment from a mental health professional.
The therapists, psychologists, and counselors at Thriveworks Chesapeake have worked with many people who are fighting an addiction. We understand the treatment options that are available and the support it takes to live in sobriety. If you are ready to take steps toward sobriety, we are ready to help.
A number of myths and misconceptions have stigmatized addiction in a way that can make recovery more difficult for those struggling. In the news, addiction may be stereotyped as a problem for those with low-income and from the “wrong” background (whatever their definition of “wrong” may mean). The truth is, addiction does not show prejudice. It strikes the rich, the poor, men, women, old, and young. Twenty-one million people suffer with an addiction each year—people from each religion, race, gender, and socio-economic status.
The pervasiveness of addiction is daunting, and part of the battle is fighting stigmas that keep people from reaching out for treatment. Addiction has treatments. People recover from addiction and learn how to live their lives in sobriety, but they rarely do so without help. Here are few of the stigmas that can shame addicts, and the truth about the struggle they are facing.
1) Myth: Addicts Are Weak People
Shame often plagues addicts and their families. Shame is the whisper, not that something is wrong but that you are wrong. Addicts often feel deep embarrassment about their disease. People may think that if addicts were just stronger, if they just exercised more will power, then they could stop. That is not how addiction work, however. Addiction is a disease, and many factors contribute to it—things that people have no control over, like genes and allergies. Treatment is available, but it does not focus upon willpower.
Sadly, this shame isolates addicts when they need community the most. Loneliness and isolation are places where addiction can be fueled. Recovery often involves finding a community where addicts feel acceptance instead of shame, and they can rely upon others to support their recovery efforts.
2) Myth: Addiction Is a Choice
Loved ones may become frustrated with someone who is struggling with addiction because they see addiction as a choice. Loved ones may think, if they just chose something different, wouldn’t everything be better? Addiction, however, is not a choice. It is an illness. People who are not addicted can take a drink today and say no tomorrow, but addicts face a completely different reality. Addiction changes people’s brain. The fight for recovery is about brain balance, not willpower.
3) Myth: Addiction Is Rare
Addiction lies to people, and one of its most common lies is, you are alone…no one else understands. The reality is that addiction programs are filled with others who get it. They have been in your shoes, and they understand what it is like. There are many people who can give empathy and support in the recovery process. In fact, finding a community of support is often one of the most important steps of healing and sobriety. Wounded family members can also find support as well. Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon have helped many others, and they are often full of people who care.
Asking for Help: Work with an Addiction Therapist, Psychologist at Thriveworks Chesapeake
If you or someone you love is struggling with a compulsive behavior, it may be time to reach out for help. If you or someone you love wants to stop but can’t, it may be time to reach out for help. If you or someone you know is lying about their compulsive behavior, it may be time to reach out for help. And help is available. Thriveworks Chesapeake offers therapy for addiction.
When you contact Thriveworks Chesapeake, you may be meeting with your therapist the following day. We accept many forms of insurance, and we offer evening and weekend session. We are ready to join your fight against addiction. Call Thriveworks Chesapeake today.