What Would You Say to an Addict?

What Would You Say to an Addict?

September 6th, 2012

Each individual has a unique perspective on addiction. Some view it as a disease; others, a choice. By all who have seen or experienced the horrific grip that drugs can take on the life of an addict, one hopeful conclusion can ultimately be drawn: recovery is possible.

Keeping in mind the diversity of experience, we decided to reach out. Not just to addicts–to everyone. We approached psychologists, treatment professionals, authors, bloggers, addicts, and families of addicts, all with a single question for them to consider:

If you could give one piece of advice to somebody suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, what would it be? Recovery is possible.

“In that fleeting sober, sane moment, take a look around you and see who your addiction is harming. The choice you make to not get help is a choice you make for your loved ones to live in an insane situation. Don’t put them through the agony of watching you die and feeling helpless to encourage you to live. Choose life. Choose love. Choose sanity. Choose to get help.” – Linda of The Immortal Alcoholic

“It doesn’t matter how smart you are; you have not been able to find a way to stop using and stay stopped. The people you meet who are clean and sober – no matter what you think of them, whether you or not you like them, whether or not you think they are intellectually inferior – these people know how to stay stopped. Let them teach you how to do it.” – Patty Powers of Patty Powers NYC

“There is hope! You are suffering from an illness. You are a sick person, not a bad person. You don’t have to live this way. Ask for help.” – Megan O’Connor of Valley Hope

“You matter.” – Tim of Recovery Reflections

“It may seem like the thing that has power over you will never loosen its grip, but as you keep trying, keep fighting…keep seeking help…something will begin to shift inside you. A small change, a flickering hope. As you nurture that hope, it will eventually turn to faith that you can beat the addiction. Giving up is never an option!” – Nikki Rosen of Gentle Recovery

Of course, addiction doesn’t only harm the addict. Their families and loved ones experience some of the worst pain of all — pain that seeps into every aspect of their lives.

“In all of the pain you experience when your child is suffering from addiction, you still must take care of yourself. It’s not about listening to all the clichés and reacting to every crisis and drama each day. It’s about you taking the time to learn all you can about this disease and deliberate about how this affects you and those you love. With this learning and self reflection you become better able to help your child and yourself. Where there is life, there is hope. This is not a phrase that pertains only to your addicted child.” – Ron Grover of An Addict In Our Son’s Bedroom

Todd Branston, writer of Ask an Addiction Counselor, had some advice to give to treatment providers themselves:

“My sense is that treatment providers need to move away from total abstinence as the catch all and realize that recovery looks different for everybody. Many practitioners see the use of any mind or mood altering chemical as a complete ‘no’ when treating addicted clients. I think the rigidity of this approach can border on unethical as clients have brain chemistry that is so impacted that the only way they can find recovery is through a harm-reduction approach. My sense is that addiction is largely biochemical and that relapse is largely the result of cravings…if this is the case then we need to talk to clients about anti-craving medications.” -Todd Branston of Ask An Addiction Counselor

While some say words can only do so much, we think they can do much more. If you are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, talk to someone who has been through what you’re going through. Talk to somebody who knows addiction well. And if you’re a friend or family member of an addict, take inspiration from the advice given above. These are the words recovering addicts wish that somebody would have told them — words that parents of addicts wish they could have heard themselves. Recovery is possible.

Words that provide hope.

Recovery is possible.

Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cizake/4164756091/

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