In Case You've Wondered

My blog is where my wandering thoughts are interspersed with stuff I made up. So, if while reading you find yourself confused about the context, don't feel alone. I get confused, too.

If you're here for the stories, I started another blog:

One other thing: sometimes I write words you refuse to use in front of children, or polite company, unless you have a flat tire, or hit your thumb with a hammer.

I don't use them to offend; I use them to embellish.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Paradox

I think it's safe to write that just about everyone knows someone with a substance abuse problem. There's plenty to be found and the odds are against not knowing someone that is having a problem.

I have the opinion that substance abuse problems are extensions of mental problems. The abuse is a reaction and the real problem may never be addressed because of the carnage of substance abuse. The damage to family members and friends is beyond repair, so the result is the complete destruction of the substance abuser. They end up with only one solution and the solution can never be changed.

Here's the paradox: When the person that abuse substances reaches the point their life is in jeopardy, the people that they really need are probably gone. Their friends and family have reached the point they won't, or can't, offer any more help. They've had enough and may be dealing with emotional disorders they acquired during their attempts to help.

So, is their a solution? I don't know, but I do know that the friends and families of substance abusers are unique in their experience. They see the slow motion train wreck and are affected by their observation. They grieve their loss daily and have little hope. Their sorrow is accentuated with anger and horror. Their resentment eats away at their emotional health like an acid. They wonder why this happened and sometimes feel guilt, even though they have done nothing wrong. If physical abuse is involved, they live in fear, which is horrible to experience and the results are rarely good. 

One thing I do know is that the "oxygen mask" analogy fits best: You have to save yourself first. You can't help someone else if you are succumbing to your own reactions or allowing the poor decisions of another to destroy your ability to survive. This means spending time examining your reactions and learning to not allow them to destroy your emotional health. It's tougher than it appears and the necessary resources can be hard to find. They're there, but you have to make the effort to find them. Otherwise, you might find you too are lured into using a substance to help you cope. At this point, the problem perpetuates and the legacy of another generation is of substance abuse.


  1. Speaking from experience, I do agree that we have to protect ourselves and innocents (like children) first from the substance abuser. But I also believe, in the case of a close loved one in the throes of substance abuse, that we need to leave a door open for them. Basically tell them that when they are serious about cleaning themselves up, entering rehab, etc. we will be there to support them. But not until then, and they have to take the first steps. No ifs, ands, or buts. We won't be around to witness their self-destruction, but we will welcome them back if they make the sincere effort to help themselves.

  2. I've known people that were too hurt to ever let the substance abuser return. There was no trust and they knew it was only a matter of time before the new "religion", or time in rehab would end. They loved them forever, but they'd never expose their heart to the pain again.

    Dealing with substance abuse, IMO, should begin with what led to the abuse. It's not natural to abuse substances and the roots of the abuse can be found in the demons hiding in the abuser. Getting them to face these demons is the toughest part. Mental illness is socially unacceptable and the stigma prevents most people from seeking help.

  3. Well, speaking from the experience of being a substance abuser, the abuse is definitely a symptom, not the cause. I've been clean and sober for eighteen years now.

    The worst thing you can for a substance abuser is to enable him/her to continue their addiction. The best thing you can do is let them know it is not acceptable around you and to hope and pray that they "wake up". Until they do, they will continue on the path of destruction.

    Not everybody is fortunate to stop in time, but for those that do, eventually by their new actions over a period of time, one may began to forgive them. If not, then it is your loss, not theirs.