Most of the time, when I've found the ability to open up to someone else about being addicted, that person has been wonderful, supportive, and helpful.
But there are a few things that still get said, both in person and online, that are... less then helpful, shall we say. Let's save some time and get them all out of the way at once.
Have you tried just...not using?
[Bright smile] Yes. Yes I have. Many times.
The best answer I've found is, “have you tried just...not being afraid of spiders?” Rationally you know that most spiders are harmless, but you keep going back to being afraid of them. With work you can get over that fear. This is similar.
Well, can't you just like, try harder?
Yep! That is definitely part of it. But that's just part of it and I've only got so much strength on my own. Which is why I'm seeking help and trying to fight smarter, not just harder. The hard part about “trying harder” is how hard it is.
You can't be addicted to that! It's not addictive!
This one is very common in online forums. And it's really rough.
A therapist I worked with for a while told me about this one. She said that she's heard people say “you can't get addicted to that!” in reference to just about every addiction, and it usually comes from one of three places:
- The person is also addicted, and is still in denial about their addiction. They're in the “I can stop any time I want” phase. They want to believe that you can't be addicted, because then they can tell themselves they aren't.
- The person is one of those lucky people who just doesn't seem to get addicted. There are people who can partake “socially” or from time to time and they just...don't get hooked. I am intensely jealous of these people. I'm trying not to be.
- The person has never really dealt with any addiction, and in their mind “addiction” means being a strung out junkie like in 1980's “very special episodes”. In their mind, if you don't snort/inject it, it's not addictive. If I am interacting with this person for real (not just on an online forum) I might spend some time explaining a more realistic model of what addiction is (like in my introduction) But most of the time I just shrug and try not to let my mood collapse.
Do you actually like that? (Alternately “how could you like that?”)
No, I absolutely hate it.
Except for in those moments when it's literally all I can think about and I would gladly trade something unimportant—my arms and legs, say—to use again. When I do relapse I like it right up to the moment the hook it provides starts to fade. Then I hate it again, but now I also hate myself for giving in! Fun!
(A big part of recovery programs is getting over the self-hatred part because it's amazingly detrimental. Feeling like a bad person inevitably leads to a “binge”. Learning to accept yourself and stand up and try again is more likely to lead to success. Or so I have been told.)
Some Helpful Things to Say
There are some good things you can say. They can be uncomfortable because, well, this is an uncomfortable topic. But here's some of the best:
Wow, that sounds rough.
Thank you! It really can be.
I'm not judging you.
Seriously, please say this if you know someone who is struggling to get free. I promise you they're judging themselves to pieces. It's an awkward thing to say, but bite the bullet and say it. Please.
Listen, if you ever need to talk, like, even at 2AM, just call or even just text, okay? I'm here for you.
You'll have to say this a few dozen times. But if you have the strength to make the offer it will mean the world to them. At some point they might just need it and you will have saved them.
Do you have the help you need? Is there a professional or someone you can call or something?
You don't have to take on an addict's problems yourself. There is support, and just encouraging them to find it is a major help.
Do you want to go get some lunch? I'm starving.
Let them know that you still accept them, still want to hang out, still think of them as a person, not a problem.
It takes a lot of strength to say any of these things. I know, I get it. All I can say is that any little bit of understanding helps immensely.
Thanks for reading, I appreciate it.