18 Apr Lies and Excuses Addicts Tell Themselves and Others
The road to sobriety is hard. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the many excuses and lies addicts tell themselves and others. Alcohol and drug addiction changes the way the brain works, affecting thinking processes and making it easier for substance abusers to believe statements that a healthy mind would recognize as untrue.
“I’m not hurting anyone.”
Substance abuse does exactly the opposite: it hurts everyone. Alcohol addiction, for example, has profound long-term effects on the alcoholic, including increased risk of depression, high blood pressure, cancer, liver diseases and death. Female alcoholics also boost their risk for miscarriage, infertility and breast cancer.
Doing drugs also damages the body. The effects vary depending on the drug of choice, but the physical damage can include loss of teeth, hardened arteries, heart inflammation, kidney damage, organ failure, stroke and death.
Alcohol and drug addiction hurts those around the addict as well. Spouses, parents and other family members are left to pick up the responsibilities of the addict, doing more of everything, from taking the kids to soccer to acting as the family’s sole financial support. Substance abuse also takes a significant toll on children. They may find themselves forced to take on adult responsibilities, such as caring for younger siblings or getting a parent cleaned up after a night of bingeing. Children of addicts are also at increased risk for developing substance abuse and other mental health conditions, including depression.
“Everyone else does it.”
From sitcoms and reality shows to Pinterest and Facebook, it sometimes seems as though everyone else is drinking or doing drugs, too. However, many of those people—regardless of what they might boast on social media or what reality show editors splice together—are drinking socially and responsibly. In addition, the media tends to glamorize behavior that is outside the norm, including excessive alcohol or drug use.
People with substance abuse problems are not like “everyone else.” Alcoholics and drug addicts indulge too much and too often. The chemistry of the brain itself has changed so they cannot stop with one drink; they cannot stop until they reach that high.
“I’m not addicted—I can stop whenever I want to.”
Substance abuse is a mental health disorder in which the brain undergoes changes that alter one’s ability to make healthy decisions. There is no way to “will” yourself into sobriety. In fact, making repeated, unsuccessful attempts to quit is one of the signs of an addiction.
Those who abuse drugs and alcohol need professional addiction treatment. Addiction counselors and other mental health professionals will assess your needs and develop a treatment plan that considers your situation as well as other mental health needs. (Many substance abusers, for example, also live with depression or anxiety disorders.) With help, you can overcome addiction.
“I need to drink for my job.”
Watch a hugely popular TV show like “Mad Men” and it’s easy to see why some people believe that alcohol can be just part of the job. While TV, movies, and perhaps even your own co-workers glamorize the three-martini-lunch attitude, drinking is never part of a successful career path. Drinking alcohol impairs judgment and decreases decision-making ability. It also reduces physical reflexes, making on-the-job accidents more likely.
Alcohol is never part of the job description. If you work in an environment that encourages on-the-clock consumption, (or perhaps just doesn’t discourage it) it may be time to reconsider your current work situation and look for a new job.
“Drinking or using makes me happy.”
Alcohol and drug addiction affect the brain’s pleasure centers. As a result, users feel as though they’re having a good time while they’re under the influence. But that fleeting moment of “happiness” comes at a significant cost. Coming down from the high or waking up to a hangover triggers significant discomfort, ranging from headaches to mood swings to the desperate hunt for the next high. In truth, the aftermath of a binge is probably far worse than any negative emotions that may have triggered it in the first place.
“Life is stressful; I deserve a treat.”
Chemical changes in the brain of a substance abuser can make it feel like that drink or high is relieving the stress. In reality, that’s a very temporary feeling. Getting intoxicated creates far more stress than dealing with the stress of everyday life. An addict experiences the anxiety of hunting for the next high, or the stress of making excuses for time lost at work. The substance abuse also delivers anxiety in the form of damaged relationships and legal trouble. From drunk driving fines to loss of income, it’s little wonder that addiction’s financial impact is sometimes called the “high cost of low living.”
“It’s OK—I only drink on the weekends.”
An alcoholic doesn’t necessarily need to consume every night. Binge drinking is a form of alcoholism that’s no different than drinking daily. This behavior carries the same risks, including the increased risk of accidents, from falling down the stairs to wrecking a spouse’s car. Regularly having one too many drinks—even if it’s only on the weekends—is a sign of an addiction that requires professional treatment. It takes only one accident while intoxicated to hurt yourself or someone else.
“I need to drink or use to be creative.”
From Ernest Hemingway to Amy Winehouse, some creative types claim they have used their substance abuse to fuel their art. However, the reality is that famous addicted artists were typically talented, prolific workers who were creative in spite of their behavior , not because of it.
Substance abuse is a mental health condition that alters the way a person thinks and makes decisions. If you find yourself making these excuses or if you hear them from a loved one, it’s time for help. A professional rehab center will guide you through the process, from detox to aftercare. With the help of alcohol and drug addiction counselors and other professionals, you’ll work to clear the substances from your system and change the way your brain understands and views your behavior. Start down the road to sobriety today.
Find relief in recovery. Life gets better with addiction treatment.
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