Pain, pills, then accidentally addicted

For most of the addicted community, the disease has been brought on by the conscious decision to use substances that are likely to cause dependence.  Typically, drug and alcohol use begins in response to trauma, peer pressure, stress, or overall lack of concern for the outcome.   Nobody ever picked up a drink or a drug thinking that someday they may be so hopelessly addicted they would lie, cheat, steal, rape, assault, even murder under the influence.  “It won’t happen to me” is the usual thinking.

It is my belief that the genetic aspect of addiction should be taught to everyone at an early age.  This would enable everyone to fully understand the nature of their choice to drink or do drugs and what the consequences of that choice may render.  I understand that testing would be too costly and not a very good use of anyone’s money.  For most, simple observation of their family tree would let them know if they stand a good chance of being predisposed to the possibility of addiction.

But this article is going to target a different segment of the addicted population.  There are many people who have unknowingly, unintentionally, even unwillingly become addicted to prescription drugs.  This may have started from something as simple as a slip-and-fall injury, a car accident, or some other type of pain-causing trauma.  Innocently enough, they went to their doctor and discussed the pain and what could be done about it.  Most doctors (not all) are pretty quick to prescribe narcotic pain medication to their patients.

It has been my own personal experience that doctors freely prescribe dangerous narcotics for routine procedures and surgeries.  I have personally been given a prescription for narcotics after having my wisdom teeth removed.  It was my experience that a few Advil took care of any pain I had.  Just recently I had hip surgery and was prescribed Oxycodone even though I told the doctor there was no chance I would ever take it.  My experience post-surgery was that I did not even need an aspirin!

Here is something shocking, and I do hope there is a medical doctor reading this that is willing to vouch for the validity of what I am about to tell you.  Most medical doctors only receive a few hours of training on addiction in their entire school career!  I do wonder how things would change if they realized that the drugs they are prescribing could possible send their patients spiraling out of control?

The sad truth is that too many people believe that addiction is not a disease (doctors included) and that addiction is just a moral deficiency.  Most people who do not have trouble controlling the prescriptions they take and the alcohol they drink are not willing to believe that other people cannot do the same.  These so-called “normal people,” the ones who drink one beer and call it a night, or take one tablet of Vicodin every 4 – 6 hours as needed, they are the ones who can be most beneficial in assisting the addicted people into treatment. They are the ones with the clear mind to think with.

People under the influence of narcotics, suffering with addiction, do not have good judgment.  Denial is a key indicator for addiction.  Believe it or not, the addict has tricked themself into believing that they somehow need to double, triple, quadruple the dosage of the Vicodin because their pain is “worse” than most people’s, and seeing as their doctor “can’t see that,” they end up going to multiple doctors.  Once all of the doctors figure out what they are doing and put an end to it, the addict “who knows better than the professional” seeks out the black market or a drug dealer for the drugs.

These people I am writing about here are doctors, lawyers, nurses, police, firemen, postal workers, moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, sisters and brothers, priests and nuns, rabbis and Imams.  Addiction crosses all lines and cultural boundaries. Those who know these people and see their behavior can do them the biggest favor ever and simply recognize it with them.   These are typically family members that know what is going on yet are afraid to do anything about it.

Let me ask you this:  If you won’t say something to the addicted, who will?  Can you come from a deep place of love and compassion without judgment and condemnation?  Can you set aside your own lack of understanding about the disease of addiction and just extend a hand to a drowning person?

For an addict to ask for help, many factors must fall into place, and none of them are pleasant.  It is called “hitting the bottom” for a reason; those who reach out for help are at a place where they never thought they would go.  Sometimes that window of opportunity is only open for a very short time.  It generally takes deep legal troubles, relationship woes, financial ruin, homelessness, or a major health crisis related to usage for the addict to admit they have a problem.

Enabling by family members only ensures a much deeper and possibly tragic bottom for the addict.

The good news here is this:  Those who become “accidentally addicted” have a much greater success rate in recovery than do the people who knowingly take illegal drugs for what some would call recreational usage.

The spiritual recovery program is perfectly suited for these people.  They are usually not able to relate to the hardcore drug addicts found in the Twelve Step programs, although some do just fine there.  What they need to do is to overhaul their own belief system and become aware of the power they hold over their own lives.  Taking on an approach to life that embraces fellowship, personal integrity, and openness is a vital key to sustained sobriety as well as increasing the quality of life.

Most people will agree that relapse is less likely to occur in the life of a happy, outgoing person.  For those seeking to improve their conscious contact with a Higher Power, happiness is a natural byproduct.  Using a support group in the pursuit of spiritual living encourages a sense of belonging and family that all humans desire. Seeking support from coaches and counselors is also highly recommended in the early stages of recovery.

(Kevin McCormack is a Conversations with God Life Coach, a Spiritual helper on www.changingchange.net, and an Addictions recovery advisor.  You can visit his website for more information at www.Kevin-Spiritualmentor.com  To connect with Kevin, please email him at Kevin@theglobalconversation.com)

Please Note: The mission of The Global Conversation website is to generate an ongoing sharing of thoughts, ideas, and opinions at this internet location in an interchange that we hope will produce an ongoing and expanding conversation ultimately generating wider benefit for our world. For this reason, links that draw people away from this site will be removed from our Comments Section, a process which may delay publication of your post. If you wish to include in your Comment the point of view of someone other than yourself, please feel free to report those views in full (and even reprint them) here.
Click here to acknowledge and remove this note:
  • Laura Pringle

    I am not an addict, but have dealt with one. This person is very spiritual, and very clear in their connection with the Divine. I’ve often wondered why this person feels the need to alter their experience of their reality so constantly and regularly, when apparently, so spiritually integrated.

    I’ve wondered, was there an emotional trauma, a wound that the drugs helped assuage? Aside from the chemical dependency part, what keeps them so convinced that this is still even necessary? I’d love to see this person step away from their constant dosing and just be in reality as it is presented, and feel good. But it is not up to me…

  • Marko

    While you feel the accidental addict has an easier time overcoming their addiction & a much less chance of lapsing back to it, it’s the genetically predisposed addict that has the much harder time managing their addiction in a consistent healthy way. Okay, got it.

    At some point in the future we will most likely be able to turn of the addiction gene if one does exist.

    In the mean time, isn’t the genetically disposed addicted person really going through a spiritual experience of which the addiction is a distorted, exaggeration of a misunderstanding of the spiritual message that is really behind it?

    I’m guessing in native, aboriginal, tribal primitive peoples don’t have addiction problems. That is, ones that are free of western influence. Is that true?

    Once the addiction is understood & the pain behind it healed, is it not possible that a person say, an alcoholic, could return to moderate or light drinking?

    I mean by that, it seems a very rigid mind set to say they will never be able to drink again without addictive consequences. Now, I get the wisdom of that, don’t get me wrong. I also feel it may be true for about say 70 percent of alcoholics but that there may be a smaller percentage that are not as strongly genetically affected. Or actually have a chemical change within themselves that has been altered because of the healing & transformation that’s taken place.

    I say this because it seems a rigid blanket statement to say it’s true for all addicts. That indeed there are people who do not fall into this, but the mindset of the professionals can’t conceive of this possibility. What are your thoughts on this? Just wondering.

    Magically,
    -Marko

  • Charlotte

    Great topic, and one that I predict will continue for years to come. People in general appear to have a challenging time speaking to a loved one or other person about addiction. I hear it all the time, “I don’t drink/use as much as so and so.” I hope one day we can realize that if it’s a problem, then it’s a problem. Regardless of the reason one became addicted either psychologically or physically.
    Thanks for the topic.