WHEN DO YOU ASK FOR HELP WITH AN ADDICTION?
Advice and shocking statistics from Breathe founder, Brad Lamm:
Many of us have a loved one, a family member, or a close friend who finds himself or herself in trouble and needs help. Allow me to share with you some proof of this, gathered from government data, addiction centers, national surveys, and health organizations:
- 1 in 6 Americans report that they “drink too much,” while 1 in 20 say they have problems with extreme drinking.
- 1 in 38 Americans have an eating disorder. One out of 10 are men; 9 out of 10 are women.
- 1 in 43 Americans have a gambling problem.
- 1 in 15 Americans regularly use illicit substances.
- 1 in 20 Americans are currently dealing with depression.
- 1 in 5 American adults smoke cigarettes.
- 1 in 13 Americans suffer from an unhealthy Internet dependency.
These are mind-boggling numbers by any standards! Looking over these startling statistics makes you wonder: Why do people do things that they know are harmful, or deadly?
There are numerous reasons why people do harmful things to themselves, including peer pressure, stress, boredom, thrill seeking, depression, adolescent rebellion, family breakups, economic stress, crime, relief from emotional or physical pain, and being out of touch with one’s own spiritual balance and inner harmony. And if a drug like alcohol, cocaine, or tobacco is involved, and you ask people why they do it, they will give you different answers. “I enjoy it.” “It perks me up.” “It calms me down.” And so on. Be it conscious or unconscious, dangerous or not, people do what they do for reasons.
The most difficult question for us is: Should we step in or step aside? It’s normal to be hesitant when trying to help friends or family members engaged in troublesome or destructive behavior. You don’t want to intrude, but you want to do what’s in their best interest, especially when people are seen as hurting themselves or others.
Self-destructive behavior always hurts, and may eventually kill. Note some jarring statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): It costs each smoker in the U.S. nearly $4,000 dollars a year to smoke. In years of life, it costs adult male and female smokers an average of 13.2 and 14.5 years of life, respectively, because they smoked. Tobacco use is responsible for approximately 438,000 deaths each year.
Recent data estimate that about 400,000 deaths are associated with obesity each year in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control has released a study citing that the cost to treat obesity-related diseases has soared to a mile high $147 billion, double that of the cost just ten years before.
The cost of my own addiction was nearly a million dollars. Over the twenty years of active addiction, I spent $40,000 a year. Between the alcohol, the pills, the coke and the crystal, the cigarettes and the nonsense, it was buckets and buckets of dough. That’s just the dollar cost and doesn’t count lost wages, productivity, dreams, schemes, or what-ifs.
These are just the numbers. Factor in the personal, emotional and spiritual costs of addiction and it is staggering.
If your loved one has an addiction or suffers other serious problems, you and everyone else in the family will be affected at some level. Members of a family, for example, often experience loneliness, frustration, fear, anger, and shame. They may feel hopeless, angry and resentful toward the whole situation and then feel guilty for having these feelings. Some family members may also use alcohol, drugs, or gambling themselves as a way of coping with the problems in their family and to neutralize the emotional pain. Children may feel insecure or unloved. In households dominated by addictions or ruled by any sort of chaos, the children’s safety— as well as their psychological and emotional development— may be at risk.
You’ve got to ask yourself: How much pain are you experiencing over this situation? Do you wonder how you’re holding yourself together? What is it doing to your kids? Emotional pain comes in many forms— depression, anxiety, or feeling neglected, misunderstood, sad, trapped, vulnerable, hopeless, or just plain wrung out.
You’ve absolutely got to take your emotional temperature and recognize that you’re hurting. The emotional pain just isn’t worth it. When you get this, I believe you’ll be strengthened and motivated to move your loved one in the direction of meaningful change.
You, and other family members may suffer health issues brought on by the stress of dealing with your addicted loved one. Of course, there are financial costs; missed work, lost jobs, ruined careers, all from dealing with your loved one’s addiction.
The costs of addiction are enormous. You’ve got to step in, not only for the person in trouble but to stop the deterioration of your life— and everybody else in it. Here’s the deal: Anything that happens to one person has consequences for the people around him. For example, when a family member becomes depressed, addicted, obese, or whatever, the effect of that behavior is not localized within the depressed person, but rather ripples through the family to affect all its members. The collateral effects are real, and they are serious. Collateral damage is right!
Ready to get help now? Contact us to get started.