Commonly Asked Questions about Addiction and Treatment
Why are drug addicts so manipulative?
Individuals struggling with addiction can sometimes exhibit manipulative behaviors, but it's essential to understand that this isn't a characteristic of the person themselves, but rather a manifestation of the disease of addiction. These behaviors are typically driven by a powerful compulsion to continue using substances, often rooted in physical dependency, fear of withdrawal, or a desire to escape from negative feelings.
Manipulative behaviors can manifest in various ways. For instance, a person may lie or deceive others about their substance use, make excuses, shift blame, or use emotional tactics to avoid confrontations about their behavior or to secure resources for continuing their drug use. Often, these individuals are not consciously trying to be deceptive or manipulative; instead, they are driven by the intense compulsion created by their addiction.
Addiction also affects brain functions, including those responsible for judgment, decision making, learning, memory, and behavior control. When the brain's reward system is hijacked by substance use, obtaining and using the substance can take priority over everything else, leading to behaviors that the individual might not exhibit otherwise.
It's worth noting that not every person with a substance use disorder exhibits manipulative behaviors, and if they do, it's not a sign of their character, but rather the severity of their disorder.
The development of manipulative behaviors signals a need for professional help. Substance use disorders are serious, and effective treatments often involve a combination of medication, therapy, and long-term follow-up. Therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help individuals understand their behaviors, develop healthier coping mechanisms, and rebuild damaged relationships. Family and loved ones can also benefit from guidance and support on how to navigate these challenges without enabling the addiction.
What is drug addiction commonly called in the mental health fields?
In the mental health field, drug addiction is commonly referred to as a "Substance Use Disorder" (SUD). This term is used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), which is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States.
A Substance Use Disorder is defined as a pattern of behaviors characterized by an inability to control or cut down on use, spending a lot of time obtaining the substance, craving the substance, failing to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home due to substance use, and continuing to use the substance despite knowing it's causing physical or psychological harm.
Substance Use Disorders can be further categorized based on the specific substance involved, such as Alcohol Use Disorder, Opioid Use Disorder, Cannabis Use Disorder, and so forth. The severity of the disorder is also assessed (mild, moderate, or severe) based on the number of diagnostic criteria met by an individual.
It's worth noting that this terminology emphasizes the understanding of drug addiction as a medical disorder, rather than a moral failing or a matter of willpower. This shift in language is part of a larger effort to reduce stigma and promote a more compassionate, effective approach to treatment.
How can I support my adult child in their recovery process?
Supporting an adult child in their recovery process can be a challenging yet crucial role. Here are some ways you can provide support:
Educate Yourself: Learn about addiction and the recovery process. Understanding the nature of your child's struggle can help you provide more effective support and reduce misperceptions and stigma.
Encourage Treatment: Encourage your child to seek professional help and stay engaged with their treatment plan. This could involve therapy, counseling, medication-assisted treatment, and/or participation in a recovery support group.
Be Patient and Understanding: Recovery is a long and challenging process that often involves setbacks. Be patient with your child's progress and provide emotional support and encouragement.
Promote Healthy Lifestyle: Encourage your child to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This could involve supporting them in adopting healthy eating habits, regular physical activity, and adequate sleep. Also, help them find healthy coping mechanisms and hobbies to replace substance use.
Support Their Independence: It's important for your adult child to feel capable and independent. While it's important to support them, avoid taking over their responsibilities. Instead, encourage them to take charge of their own recovery.
Set Boundaries: Clear, healthy boundaries are crucial in any relationship, but especially when dealing with addiction. Communicate your limits openly and honestly. For example, you might make it clear that you won't provide financial support for substance use.
Attend Family Therapy: Consider participating in family therapy or counseling. This can help you understand how to better support your child, improve communication, and address any issues within the family dynamic that may contribute to the substance use disorder.
Join a Support Group: Consider joining a support group for parents of adults with substance use disorders. These groups can provide understanding, advice, and resources.
Take Care of Yourself: Remember, you can't pour from an empty cup. Ensure you're taking care of your own physical and mental health too. Seek support when you need it, and take time for self-care.