It goes without saying that addiction to drugs and alcohol is not only debilitating, but it can easily rob individuals of their goals, dreams and relationships with loved ones.
The long road to recovery after substance abuse has a number of foreseeable barriers that are common to many in treatment. This means that when an addict is deep into his or her disease, they are unable to think of anything other than their next drink, fix, or hit. This makes them unable to admit they are sick and in need of assistance. This is precisely why addiction and denial can be a deadly combination.
Addiction negatively impacts the way an addict thinks, feels and lives his or her life. An addict typically acts in a childish and selfish manner, and is insensitive to the needs of others. Psychologically, those who are in denial will stop at nothing to justify their abhorrent behavior and poor treatment of friends and family.
Emotionally, the addiction encourages the addict to react in a defensive manner to those who keep them from what they desire. At the same time, their low self-esteem generally keeps addicts incredibly sensitive to the way that others feel about them, including any criticism they may receive. They are prone to tear down others to take the spotlight off their behavior.
If there is any hope for recovery, sooner or later the addict must come to grips with who his or her true self is. Denial can get in the way of this self-actualization. Enablers, who are often friends or family, must also stop “saving” the addict (this could include providing money, a free place to stay, etc.) in order to help them on their road to recovery. ‘Saving” someone who is out of control only exacerbates the cycle of substance abuse. While they often believe they are helping, enablers risk the health and safety of their loved ones as they allow the addiction or continue.
Alcoholics Anonymous teaches attendees believe in a higher power, as addicts are often feel a sense of powerlessness over their behavior. However, to emerge from substance abuse, one must first want to change. This is the first—and most important step—to lasting recovery.