Addiction is an insidious disease that makes people stay in the same cycle for months and even years. One of the reasons addiction is so difficult to overcome is due to the low levels of self-esteem and self-worth that accompanies it. During active addiction, a person is a mere shadow of who they once were or who they could possibly be. As they chase getting drunk or high by any means necessary, they may lie, cheat, and steal from the people they care about the most. As a result of the guilt the person feels, they may try to cope by drinking and using more, thus starting the cycle all over again. Understanding that addiction is a disease is crucial in helping someone you or someone you know get and stay sober.
The Disease of Addiction
Addiction is the only disease out there that makes a person delusional in thinking that nothing is wrong. This is one of the reasons that it’s hard for a person to seek help. Addiction takes over the survival part of the brain, so drinking or using drugs comes above friends, family, finances, career, and everything else worthwhile in life. With years of addiction research, we now understand that the brain of someone with an addiction is biologically different than the average person. Although some people abuse substances to the point of addiction, others were genetically predisposed to developing some sort of addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping or sex.
It’s crucial to understand the biological aspect of addiction because it means that people with addictions are suffering from a sickness, and they aren’t morally flawed. Unfortunately, the disease of addiction causes a lot of immoral behavior, which makes it hard for a person to love themselves because they think they’re just a bad person. But for a moment, think of someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Would you get angry at them for having a sickness? Or would you care for them and offer them compassion? This is how people can start developing compassion for the addict in their life as well as how people with addiction can start developing compassion for themselves.
One of the reasons that people debate the disease model of addiction is because they believe that it lets the person “off the hook”, but this isn’t the case. When a person goes through treatment, sober living, or 12-step programs, they work on themselves. They start to recognize their defects of character, and they learn healthy coping skills to gradually become the best version of themself. Much like cancer, addiction is a disease that can go into remission and stay gone forever, but for those in recovery, it involves continued self-reflection and work to stay sober and lead a better life.
Learning to Forgive Yourself
As time goes on in sobriety, some people struggle with forgiving themselves, and this is why staying involved in recovery is so important. Those who go through sober living or 12-step programs start to see the value of being of service. By helping others, you’re able to fight the voices in your head that say that you’re not a good person because you’re continually putting good into the world. This is one of the primary reasons why people in recovery end up running sober living homes, becoming 12-step sponsors, or working at treatment facilities, and you can too.
If you’re sick and tired of living the way you’re living, Hansen Foundation can help, so call us today at 609-270-4443.