Angie started smoking marijuana when she was in middle school. Her friends gave her some, and she wanted to join the fun. For a while, Angie just used it occasionally, like when she was with her friends or at parties. It was easy escape from stress. But as the stress in her life grew, so did her use. Occasional use turned into weekly use which turned into daily use. Now, as an adult working full-time, Angie even uses during her lunch break sometimes. She knows that if she is caught, then she will be fired. Angie has tried to stop, but she cannot gain any ground. Angie is beginning to wonder if this is an addiction.
“Addiction isn’t about substance—you aren’t addicted to the substance,
you are addicted to the alteration of mood that the substance brings.”
Many people, perhaps even you, can resonate with Angie’s story. The details and the substance (or action) may differ, but as author Susan Cheever explains, the altered mood is the same. The cycle is the same whether the addiction is with alcohol, cocaine, prescription drugs, cannabis, sex, video games, Internet, or many other substances or activities. Addiction traps people in a cycle of compulsive behaviors. It changes people’s brain, and often, people need treatment from a mental health professional to find the right treatment options for overcoming their addiction.
The addiction counselors and psychologists at Thriveworks Counseling in Waltham, MA understand what it takes to treat the disease of addiction. There are many options available, and we have helped many clients find the healing and regain their lives.
Addiction and Misconceptions
The news can stigmatize and misrepresent what it means to struggle with addiction. People may stereotype addicts as poor, low-income, and from the “wrong” background (whatever their varying definitions of “wrong” mean). However, addiction does not discriminate. It can strike rich, poor, male, female, young, old, and more. As many as 21 million people in the United States suffer from an addiction—people in every race, religion, gender, and social class.
Addiction is a pervasive disease, and stigmas can keep people from reaching out for the help the desperately need and deserve. Here are a few common misconceptions about addiction:
1) Addiction Is a Choice
When a loved one is an addict, it is easy to become frustrated with them. It is easy to think, if they just made a different choice, then everything would be better. It is easy to think these things, but it is also inaccurate. An addiction is not a choice, but it is a disease. Just because a non-addict can choose to drink today and not drink tomorrow, it does not follow that an addict has the same choice. When addiction strikes individuals, it changes their brain. People who have an addiction need serious intervention and treatment, just like someone who has cancer.
2) Addicts Are “Weak”
Addicts and their loved ones often feel intense shame because of this stigma. They may hide the addiction because they are so embarrassed that they cannot simply exercise enough willpower to stop. Addiction is not that simple. Much like diabetes or cancer, addiction is a disease. Genes and allergies are often contributing factors—factors that people have no control over.
The same shame that people feel in addiction can drive them away from their loved ones. Isolation and lack of community can fuel the addiction. Addicts need to work through the shame and guilt, and they often need support so that they can embrace the recovery process.
3) Addiction Is Rare
The shame that says addicts are weak can also whisper, you are alone. However, this is not true. The reality is that addiction programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) are full of people who understand. Many people struggle with addiction, and the chance of recovery increases when people find a community that provides them with understanding, trust, and love, where they can be vulnerable and ask for help without shame. Family members can also find support from communities like Al-Anon. When addicts find an empathetic and supportive community, they are less prone to relapse. They can focus upon healing.
Reaching Out for Help: Therapy for Addiction at Thriveworks Counseling in Waltham, MA
Are you or is someone you love struggling with an addiction? When addiction takes root, people have a hard time controlling their behaviors regarding a particular substance or activity. They may take on social and personal risks for the addiction. Even though they are experiencing negative economic, social, or health consequences, people who have an addiction may not be able to quit. More warning signs of addiction include…
- Craving the activity or the substance.
- Building up a tolerance for the activity or substance so that more must be used to achieve the same level of satiety.
- Failed attempts to stop or curb the addiction.
- Lying to hide one’s actions or the addiction.
- Irritability regarding the activity or addiction, particularly when not participating in it.
If you recognize these symptoms, consider reaching out for help. When you contact Thriveworks in Waltham, you may have your first appointment the following day. We work with many insurance carriers and accept many insurance plans. You will never reach a voicemail, but a person answers our phone and helps our clients make their appointments. Weekend and evening sessions are also offered.
Let’s fight addiction together. You are not alone. Call Thriveworks Counseling in Waltham, MA today to work with an addiction counselor or psychologist now.