Is anything so self-evident that it cannot be doubted? Whether you are awake or asleep, two plus two makes four. But what if God, or some powerful, malicious demon, is tricking you? Couldn’t such an evil spirit fool you into believing the false is obviously true?
Descartes 1641

An addicts behaviour can be maladaptive or counter-productive, it is often difficult for an outsider to understand how a once rational person can indulge in behaviours that undermine the person’s ability to function in daily life. Some professionals view addiction as a disease as the disorder often shares many characteristics similar to mental illness, such as depression. Therefore, in order to effectively provide help and rehabilitation to someone displaying addictive behaviours, it is important to understand that the perspective and expectations of an addict, when it comes to seeking treatment, may be very different to those of a person displaying ‘rational’ behaviour, whose thought processes are unaffected by substance use such as drugs or alcohol.

Whilst a person suffering from addiction may be resistant to help from friends or family, allowing addictive and maladaptive behaviours to continue can be an enabling factor in assisting the addict to avoid the consequences of addiction. Enabling behaviours can end up becoming frustrating and upsetting, such as repeatedly lending money for food, as the person has spent their income on drugs or alcohol for example. Once we identify behaviours as enabling addiction, we can begin to change them. It can be difficult to do, but it begins with small steps:

Don’t:

  • Don’t make excuses for behaviours and actions caused by substance abuse.
  • Don’t lie.
  • Stop lending money, especially if this is affecting your personal circumstances.
  • Don’t get caught up in repetitive arguments.
  • Stand by your decisions and keep your word.

Do:

  • Set realistic goals and expectations of yourself and others.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Try to recognise that the behaviours and actions of an addict are not personal or aimed at you, addiction is a disease of the mind.
  • Try to detach yourself from a distressing situation in order to think objectively.
  • Remember, your needs are important too.

Addiction advice is available from many sources, but do not be afraid to call organisations like Addiction Helper to seek help and support.

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