Some Things You May Not Know About Substance Abuse, Part 5: Addiction Takes Hostages

Addiction Takes Hostages

The further people go into addiction, the more their lives center around it.

They discard all forms of recreation in favor of activities that include substance use.

All of their friends become using friends. Non-using friends drift away and the addict is drawn to those who don’t judge because they, themselves, are doing the same thing.

Sometimes particular careers are chosen for their proximity to the drug of choice. Alcoholics become bartenders; potheads, musicians; drug users, drug dealers.

In some cases, intimate relationships end as the loved one finds that he or she is a low priority compared to the drug. They are replaced by one of two kinds of relationships: either the type where the loved one picks up after the addict and helps the addict escape the consequences, or the type where the relationship is all about use.

Things go like this until the person enters recovery, then he or she finds that all the things they love are connected in some way to use.

He can’t see his friends because all his friends use and are unlikely to support his recovery because it would challenge their own use.

The alcoholic bartender can’t return to work without being tempted to drink; the marijuana smoking musician has to watch what she does on breaks; the addicted drug dealer has to learn to sell something else.

Otherwise innocent forms of recreation, hobbies, or art may put the recovering addict at risk. A writer who cannot write without a bottle of scotch at hand is in trouble; a painter who seeks inspiration in LSD has got to find a new muse.

Even intimate relationships can be a problem if they were associated with chemical use. The wife who lovingly keeps your refrigerator stocked with brewskis, even though she hates your drinking, is as much of a problem as the breswkis themselves. The boyfriend who was your connection to a dealer may have to go as well as the dealer.

The general principle is this: first the drug takes you hostage, then it takes everything you love hostage. Even if you get yourself free, the drug still has the other hostages in its clutches. You want to be near them, but to go near puts you at risk.

Every recovering addict wants to go in and free the hostages. They want to save their loved ones who are still addicted. They want to continue writing that novel that was started under the influence of scotch, finish that painting, inspired by a meaningful trip, work at their job, see their friends. But, consider this: you’ve seen enough hostage movies to know, it’s dangerous to free the hostages. Be sure you are safe and secure before you try it.

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About Keith R Wilson

I am a licensed mental health counselor and certified alcohol and substance abuse counselor in private practice with more than 30 years experience. What I'm working on now: I'm writing a self help book, titled, The Road to Reconciliation. I recently published a self help book, Constructive Conflict: Building Something Good Out of All Those Arguments. Experimenting with new ideas and characters in fiction under the pen name, S Harry Zade, in the blog, thenarrativeimperative.com A busy mental health counseling practice in Rochester, NY: Keith Wilson - Counseling. Writing about mental health and relationships at keithwilsoncounseling.com. Taking photographs and sharing them at keithwilsonphotography.wordpress.com Other Books I've Written Two novels: Intersections and Fate's Janitors: Mopping Up Madness at a Mental Health Clinic
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