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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Addiction: Can anyone help?

Truth of the matter is, only one person can help an addict; the addict hemself  (i.e., herself or himself, etc.)  And, by the time that drug of choice has gained the upper hand in the addict’s life, permanent changes in the brain and liver chemistries will have occurred, making the attainment of a life of sobriety much more difficult than just the making of a mental choice.  It is, at that point in time, too late for the addict to simply make a decision and stick with it:  It is a problem of living with an addicted body long enough for the body’s continual need for the addicting substance to subside to the point where that constant physical craving no longer stands in the way of the addict’s decision.  This is why medically supervised withdrawal is suggested (if at all possible,) and it is why the tendency to relapse remains strong even after the body has rid itself of the drug.

What we were taught about that “weak-willed” alcoholic—or drug addict, for that matter—just is not the case.  Anyone who has tried to get an addict in their family to give up that addiction will attest to this truth.  No, “weak-willed” has nothing to do with it at all.  By the time the “experimenter” turns into the “user” and the “user” turns into the “addict,” the body and brain have teamed up to conspire against any flights of reason that may from time to time rail against the results of the disease. 

If you have an addict in your family, the best thing you might do for them is ask them to read two articles. 

First is a commentary from “Nora’s blog, “Addiction is a disease of free will” in one of the National Institute of Health’s web sites: 

Second is a personal description of addiction found in this writer’s blog: “My AA Story” something I wrote in response to a fellow AA’s request that I give “my story” to his group:  http://stephenvgeddes.blogspot.com/2015/02/my-aa-story.html.

Should your addict have that “moment of clarity” and give consideration to a life away from drugs and/or alcohol, you might first help hem find a detox facility.  In Aiken, SC, that facility is Aurora Pavilion, https://www.aikenregional.com/community-outreach/aurora-pavilion-behavioral-health-services, a division of the Aiken Regional Medical System.  Alternatively,  the Veteran’s Administration, Augusta Health, or possibly Augusta’s University Hospital may have similar, reasonably close, facilities. 

Following detox (usually a five day medically assisted treatment period,) a good second step would be a two week to one month stay at a rehab facility.  I took this second step twice (actually, three times.)  The first time was at a place called St. Simons by the Sea on St. Simons Island, Georgia.  The second time was at the Veterans Administration facility in Augusta, Georgia.  I would recommend either to your addict, if hem qualifies.  Had I known, I might have skipped the 5 day local detox and gone directly to the VA or St. Simons facility.  Both places also are more than able to provide the medically assisted detox if they have the beds when your addict becomes ready and willing.

Should this second step be out of reach (it often is quite expensive,)  a daily dose of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous is, at a minimum, what I would recommend.  If you can, though, augment this with a weekly trip to a qualified psychologist.  Your addict needs all the help hem can get.

My third time was a bit more demanding.  Being an addict, I had finished my most current year in AA by picking up one more “blue chip,” AA’s way of saying “congratulations on having a year (or another year) in sobriety.”  I was in my current “first year away from my drug of choice” following my most recent relapse (relapse is a fact of life for addicts, you see,) and, several weeks later, when some friends came to visit for Thanksgiving, I had the thought:  “It will be different this time.”   Well, that’s the same thought I’d had prior to several previous relapses, but did I “remember” this?  Nooooooo!

Thanksgiving day, following an evening of drinking with our friends, I awoke to blue lights in the street in front of my house.  No more need be said here, though:  It’s in that second reference, the one to “My AA Story” in “blogspot.com” (above.)  Was it different, though?  Yes....  Quite.

In any case, I think I finally figured it out.  If you have an addict in your family, my hopes are that he or she (my “hem”) figures it out, too.

And the sooner, the better.