When someone is in active addiction, almost everything they do is managed around the drinking lifestyle. They go to places where they can drink. They hang out with people who drink, or they come home to drink. The drinking/using routine becomes very ritualistic. Eventually it gets to the point where if one tries to stop they begin obsessing about getting the next drink and then the compulsion takes over. This compulsion is so unbearable that they feel they must drink again. Not until intervention is implemented can this cycle be stopped.
Progression of Addiction
The real problem of waiting to stop is the fact that addiction is a progressive disease. It destroys the body physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally overtime. E. Morton Jellinek, one of the fathers of the science of alcoholism, created the “Jellenek Curve.” This describes the phases, from beginning to end, of what alcoholism looks like. The phases are: occasional relief drinking, feelings of guilt, increase in tolerance, decreased inability to stop when others do, memory blackouts, family and friends avoided, unreasonable resentments, and early morning drinks.
Though not everyone experiences all these symptoms at once, many of these will be familiar to someone with a problem. Drinkers may hear this and automatically think, “Well, isn’t that how everyone drinks?” Nope. Heavy drinkers tend to surround themselves with others who drink similarly or codependents that enable- otherwise, it would be too uncomfortable to drink excessively. It is hard for alcoholics to believe that there are people out there that have only a few drinks and stop.
Fatality of the Disease
If one continues to experience the consequences of drinking and is not able to stop and seek help, then the body starts to shut down. With long term substance usage, every organ in the body is impacted greatly. Here are a few examples of how different types of drugs impact the body:
- Alcohol- causes brain damage, specifically damaging the cortex (responsible for our higher brain functions including problem solving and decision making, the hippocampus (for memory and learning), and the cerebellum (for movement coordination).
- Marijuana- impairs short-term memory and the ability to focus attention, increases heart rate and harms the lungs, increases risk of psychosis (especially with synthetic marijuana).
- Opiates/heroin- slows respiration, depriving the body and brain of oxygen to the point where breathing stops.
All drugs significantly impact the brain on a biological level – hence the fact that addiction is a major health issue needing medical attention, mental health help, and 12 step support. Ultimately, whether the substance being abused kills someone slowly or suddenly, it is deadly, further adding to the point that there is no time is better than the present to get help.
For the person who is still contemplating whether right now is the best time to get help, think of it this way- if you had a tumor growing inside of your brain, would you do everything possible and whatever it took to get it removed? Would you do all of the treatment that’s involved? Would you take time off work and away from family to treat it? The disease of addiction is no different.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addictions then call Life Counseling Solutions today at 407.622.1770! Set up an appointment or a free 15-minute consultation with one of our therapists. Or, make your first appointment online by clicking here.
Author: Jessica Candelaria Lipsey