According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, drug and alcohol abuse is the third leading cause of death in the United States. The study found that 23.6 million Americans aged twelve or older, roughly thirteen percent of the population, are dependent on a substance. Addiction and the subsequent healthcare costs— accidents, crime, incarceration, clinics—cost Americans over $484 billion every year. Not only is this epidemic increasing in scope, but also the employment of substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors is expected to grow by 27 percent from 2010 to 2020.
Drugs are big business. That’s clear. But even more daunting, most public agencies face serious obstacles as they struggle to find solutions. Throwing more money, more in-patient treatment, or more aggressive state intervention rarely addresses the underlying causes. Individuals addicted to mood altering chemicals need help, but they need more than “tough love.” Instead, they need an alternative to help them manage the toughest obstacle of all: Their Emotions.
As a drug and alcohol counselor for over 23 years, I have worked with hundreds of individuals who manage their emotions through the use of mood altering chemicals. Through my workshops and extensive institutional experience, I have witnessed those who seek help, relapse and begin to experience hopelessness again.
Recovering individuals relapse not because they are incapable of living life without drugs or alcohol, but because they aren’t taught how to deal with their emotions. They haven’t learned how to manage other critical aspects of their lives effectively.
Individuals with a drug and alcohol disorder need to find solutions to their issues, change their past behaviors, and learn how to manage their lives more effectively. As a drug and alcohol therapist, I have discovered that individuals with addiction issues allow their emotions to govern their lives, which leads to prolonged addiction.
We all struggle with emotions. We all experience depression, stress, anxiety, anger, and frustration. The only difference is that these individuals rely on drugs to deal with their issues while most of us manage in less destructive ways.
Generally, people who don’t use drugs have clarity of thoughts. They are better equipped to deal with their emotions and other issues in their lives. Whereas, individuals addicted to mood altering substances are confused and don’t have the right mindset or skills to deal with their emotions. They resort to using drugs when overwhelmed with their emotions or faced against the odds. They quickly go from one extreme to the other. While in active addiction, self-love and respect go out the window. Even genuine complaints are looked as cooked up stories. These individuals are always at the receiving end. In short, they are always at the mercy of others.
They are considered parasites.
Self-reliance is the answer. In order to recover, individuals addicted to mood altering chemicals must become emotionally self-reliant. They have to realize that depending on drugs or other people emotionally is unhealthy. They need to learn healthy coping skills to handle their emotions effectively without resorting to drugs or alcohol.
We all make mistakes and learn from them. With these individuals, it’s different. They make mistakes and keep making them over and over, again and again. They need to stop the cycle by learning to see through the consequences of their action and implementing a proper action plan that should also include self-love and respect.
The great secret to individuals who are still in active addiction but widely known by recovering individuals is recognizing when you need help and graciously accepting it. This is the first and most vital step on the road to recovery.
Bajeerao Patil is an author of Insanity beyond Understanding, Lifelong Sobriety – How to Stop Drinking And / Or Using Drugs, and Anger Management Workbook. His books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and http://www.bajeeraopatil.com
Bajeerao Patil possesses a wealth of knowledge on the subject of addiction from over 23 years of work as a dual diagnosed counselor. He specializes in human behavior. He has a Bachelors Degree in Social Work and a Masters in Human Resources from Mumbai University, India. He counsels dual diagnosed patients – patients using substances, and
those who have severe mental health issues such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD, MDD, PTSD, and anxiety disorder. He also counsels patients who have an extensive criminal background and severe anger issues. His fascination with addictive behavior and his depth of knowledge encouraged him to write on the subject with the hopes of reaching readers with addiction issues in need.