Many people think that all an addict has to do is simply not drink or use in order to get clean. They get frustrated when their loved one, friend, or significant other continues to use despite significant consequences.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “Why won’t you just stop?”
Honestly, I thought I could. But time after time, I continued to use in circumstances that baffle me to this day. Who would go out drinking the night before the biggest job interview of his life? Why would anyone blow off a date night with an already pissed-off significant other just to get high? What would drive someone to stay up using all night before his dad’s wedding?
No one in his or her right mind would do these things, but I did them over and over. Why did I keep repeating this destructive and bizarre behavior?
I know now that my brain had been altered by using drugs and alcohol to the point where I didn’t have a choice not to use. I wouldn’t stop, because I couldn’t stop. Asking me to quit was like asking a fish to breathe on land. Knowing full well that the consequences would be dire, I kept using over and over, because I had lost the ability to stop on my own.
The part of me that could quit or slow down was broken. Like a car whose brakes had gone out, I was speeding towards peril and destruction. Fortunately, I found help before I landed in a ditch that I couldn’t get out of. Only intervention and recovery could help me once I reached that point. In recovery, I gained back my will and the ability to choose.
If you’ve ever asked yourself why your loved one won’t stop using, you may need to face the reality that he or she can’t stop. This is a startling and hard reality to accept, but acceptance is the beginning of hope.
You may feel helpless right now, but I promise you that the fact that you are thinking about this person and wondering what to do is a sign that all hope is not lost. Help is available, and if I can find it, so can your loved one. Planning an intervention could be the first step toward his or her freedom from addiction. They will need your love, support, and patience along the way.
You don’t need a doctor to take a screening test and anyone can assess a person’s risk for addiction by taking a test by clicking here or here. At the same time, family members and friends—whose own judgment isn’t distorted by heavy drinking or other drug use—can help loved ones recognize the early stages of uncontrollable craving and seek professional help.
And if the person you are worried about is merely abusing alcohol or other drugs, you may need to have a frank conversation about the damage to the brain caused by heavy drinking or other drug use. This damage can include addiction. The time to turn back is now while he or she has the power to do it.