A substance use disorder (SUD) is a chronic condition that affects every part of you, both physically and mentally. The negative effects can be clearly seen in someone who has struggled with an SUD for a long period of time. However, these effects are not limited only to the user.
Family members and close friends of individuals with an SUD feel the weight of the disorder. These relationships are often damaged or broken as a result of the person’s addiction.
Prioritizing the substance first. When an individual struggles with an SUD, their brain reorganizes their priority list. Their mind and body demand them to seek the substance before anything else, putting relationships on the backburner. Over time, these relationships deteriorate as friends and family continually feel rejected and abandoned.
Changing how they see others. The mind of an individual with an SUD trains them to remove all barriers to getting that substance. “Over time, someone with an SUD could begin to perceive the people who are trying to help them to be barriers and may begin to isolate more and more,” says Michael Chesek, MA, LMHC, Supervisor of Inpatient Clinical Services for Centerstone’s Behavioral Health Hospital and Addiction Center. “Addiction thrives in isolation.” They no longer want to be around them because they are getting in the way of the high they are trying to reach. However, this can also work the opposite way. The person with the SUD may view others as a method of sustaining their addiction, resulting in manipulative interactions to get what they want. Either way, some level of dehumanization usually occurs.
Changing how they see themselves. Those struggling with SUDs often have negative perceptions of themselves. They often feel high levels of guilt and shame once their high wears off, which can increase the prevalence of other mental health issues, like depression and anxiety. Low self-esteem often contributes to them feeling incapable of fulfilling their roles as parent, spouse, child, employee or anything else, and they confirm these feelings by abandoning those roles, further damaging those relationships.
Fortunately, no relationship is ever too far gone for the people involved to find restitution. Both parties will have some work to do, but healing is possible.
For the person with the SUD:
For the family and friends:
Throughout it all, remember that restitution is always possible and will be worth it in the end.
To learn more about how Centerstone can help people dealing with SUDs, call 1-877-HOPE123 (877-467-3123) or visit centerstone.org/service/addiction-recovery/.
If you are in crisis, please call our crisis line, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.
If you're still having trouble and would like to reach out to someone about counseling or other Centerstone services, contact us.
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