“As long as my addiction is not hurting anyone else, it’s okay.”
This justification is not only incorrect in many ways, but it is dangerous for you and those around you. If you’re suffering from a substance use disorder, professional treatment is necessary to move towards a life of wellness.
Since depression often goes hand in hand with addiction, substance abuse is essentially a form of self-harm. To live by that reasoning would be affirming the false lies that mental illnesses often feed us:
- “My life has less value than others’ lives.”
- “I deserve to be punished or to suffer.”
- “The actions and decisions I make will only affect me.”
5 Ways Addiction Harms Your Loved Ones
There is always hope for recovery, and you deserve to live a life where you are not consistently damaging your emotional, mental, and physical health. Even if it were true that your substance abuse was not hurting anyone but yourself, that would still be reason enough to seek out professional recovery care.
The reality is that you are not the only person who is being negatively affected by your addiction. Below are 5 ways that the dark hands of addiction have reached out past your heavy shoulders and into the lives of the people you love and care about.
Codependency is a relationship pattern that is extremely common in families where substance abuse is present. It is harmful to everyone involved because it affirms negative coping mechanisms and inhibits people from acting autonomously.
Codependent patterns are usually adopted as ways to ignore, attempt to fix, or cope with a loved one who is caught up in addiction and/or mental illness by the people who they are close to. This is harmful to everyone because it enables the addiction, but it is also extremely unhealthy for the loved ones’ mental state.
Codependency is a vicious cycle. Consider this example: “If a mom becomes codependent in order to cope with a husband struggling with substance abuse, their daughter might also develop codependent habits in order to care for her mother’s emotional well-being.”
2. Hereditary Addiction Risk
While there are certainly a variety of factors that lead to someone developing an addiction, it is a biological illness. Like many other illnesses, there are hereditary factors that can make a person more susceptible than others.
The Genetic Science Learning Center explains it as such: “Because addiction has an inherited component, it often runs in families. It may be harder for people with certain genes to quit once they start. Or, they may experience more severe withdrawal symptoms if they try to quit.”
Maybe you are already one of many in your family who struggle with substance abuse. But regardless of if you have a history of it or not, your current or future children will be more vulnerable to addiction than others. In addition to the genetic factors, the trauma and dysfunction associated with living in a home where active substance abuse occurs will put your children at increased risk. As a parent, this is a very real way that your addiction is a danger to more than just you.
3. Personality Changes
You are not acting like yourself when you are intoxicated. This harms you just as much as it harms those around you. If you have come to the point where you do not really see a difference between the way you are when you are drunk and when you are sober—that is a red flag. Not only does this mean that your substance is taking control over your identity, but it is also inhibiting you from truly living.
When you are intoxicated, your judgment and decision-making abilities are impaired, your inhibitions are decreased, your memory becomes faulty, and you become numb to emotions and other important aspects of the human experience. In that kind of state, you are either (often unintentionally) hurting those around you or isolating yourself from others—both of which can be very harmful.
4. Perpetuating Negative Addiction Stereotypes
There are a lot of negative societal stigmas that surround addiction. The way that we respond to them will either increase or decrease their ubiquity.
The biggest stereotype is that addiction is an active choice that people make, not a biological illness. By turning down professional treatment because you believe your addiction is only hurting you, you are feeding into the false notion that addiction is within your control.
5. Setting a Poor Example
Similar to the previous reason, usually, our actions are affecting others more than we will ever know. Maybe there is someone else you know whose drinking habits are “worse” than yours, and you have subconsciously been reasoning with yourself that “if Tim doesn’t need addiction recovery yet, then I definitely don’t.”
Aside from the fact that you do not really know if Tim has had treatment or not, it is never helpful to compare illnesses because everyone’s situations and factors are different. Only you can truly know how “bad” your addiction has become.
That being said, there might be people in your life who are thinking the exact same thing, except you are their Tim. You never know: by downplaying your own need for treatment, you could be affirming someone else’s faulty reasoning, and they could be even more of a danger to themselves and others in their life.
Getting the Help You Need
If you are ready to take action against your addiction, for the sake of your own health and the safety of those you love, Missouri’s The Aviary Recovery Center can help you begin your journey to sobriety and continued wellness with a wide range of evidence-based treatment options. If it is the love of your family that is motivating you, check out our program dedicated to helping family and loved ones.