• Kirsten Banks, MA, LPC, CAI

Struggling With Addiction: Where & How to Reach Out for Help


When it comes to addiction, there’s one thing that almost all have in common: at some point, they realize that their life is headed down a path they don’t want to go down.

Addiction can begin innocently enough; someone might start taking drugs or drinking out of curiosity, peer pressure, as a coping mechanism to help them feel better, or even as a type of performance enhancer. But as time goes on, they need more and more of the substance to feel the same effects. As the addiction grows stronger, it will become increasingly difficult to manage; eventually, everything will begin to fall apart.


You Are Not Alone


While it’s difficult to calculate the number of people today who suffer from addiction, we know that one in seven Americans will face addiction in their lifetime. We also know that addiction is an equal opportunity disease, reaching people across age, race, gender, and socioeconomic status. Addiction has been recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association since 1956. The American Society of Addiction Medicine describes addiction as "a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry."


Like other chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, and hypertension, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. We also know that genetics can play a role in the likelihood of developing a substance use disorder. If a parent has alcohol or other drug addiction, his or her child is six times more likely to develop a substance use disorder. So, the disease of addiction can get passed from one generation to the next, which explains why some families may experience addiction and its affects more than others. The good news is that, like other chronic diseases, addiction can be treated.


If addiction has begun to wreak havoc in your life, and you’re ready to turn things around, you may not know where to begin. You may have already tried to quit or cut down but have been unsuccessful. So, what can you do? How can you reach out for help?


Recognize Your Courage

You may feel shame, sadness, or anger at your choices and how they’ve negatively impacted others, but you should be proud that you’ve decided to reach out. It takes a great amount of courage to admit when you need help. It takes even greater strength to begin taking those first steps needed to get help with an addiction. Be proud of yourself for recognizing that, even in the throes of addiction, you’ve realized that your addiction has taken over your life and you need to make a change.


Be Honest with Yourself

Many people who have addictions are all too familiar with lies and manipulation; it’s a daily habit for most as they struggle to manage the unmanageable. It will be difficult, but it’s important to be honest with yourself and others so you can start your recovery on a solid foundation. Resist soothing your ego or diminishing the pain your addiction has caused others; admit that you don’t have all the answers, you can’t do this alone and you need help.


Find Resources

Seek out a professional that specializes in addiction and recovery. A Licensed Professional Counselor who has a focus on addiction and recovery can be someone that can help guide you on what steps to take next. You can also search online for help. In addition to finding books and articles, you can also locate free support groups (like Parent Recovery Network | www.therapeuticrecoverynetwork.com/prn) Many of the support groups are now meeting online via Zoom or other video conferencing platforms.


Talk to Someone You Trust

You hopefully have someone in your life you trust who you can talk to about your addiction. They may not understand what you’re going through, but it will help you to talk about it and to have someone who will listen and support you. You can also talk to a doctor or therapist who can assess your situation and help you take the next steps.

If you or a loved one is suffering with an addiction and would like to talk with an experienced, licensed professional, please call my office today at (404) 427-7612 and let’s set up an appointment.



Resources:

- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health; November 2016.

- Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment (National Institute on Drug Abuse)

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