Comedian Mitch Hedberg had a bit about addiction being the only disease that you can get yelled at for having. And since there’s usually a bit of truth peppered into every joke, you can say it’s probably the case. Unfortunately, the truth of it isn’t as humorous. That’s because addiction can destroy not only the life of the one suffering from it, but those within proximity as well.
Addiction can work like a ticking time bomb because the user often “suffers in silence” until the destructive habits cause a crescendo, much like a pot of water that boils over the edges and causes steaming chaos on the stove. It’s easy to judge someone who suffers from addiction and quietly lets their life build up to a place beyond repair, but it’s important to explore factors that drive someone to hide these actions in the dark.
“What would my spouse think? What would my kids think? Would my parents be disappointed in me?”
Just because someone consistently gives in to the desires of an addictive substance, it doesn’t mean they’re happy about it. And it also doesn’t mean that they still don’t dearly love those who are close to them. Sometimes just the mere thought of letting them down causes emotional suffering. To avoid that pain, the most logical thing to do (in their thought process) is to hide their addiction as much as possible.
Let’s face some truth here. Just about all of us give care of the validation of those we care about.
Obviously, someone who continuously uses an addictive substance holds a risk of losing their job. Their performance can suffer, and it can be disastrous for them if they should undergo a job drug screening while under the influence of an illicit substance.
But the reason for hiding the addiction can go even further. When it comes to the big picture of someone’s career, they may be afraid to let down professional colleagues or bosses. Jobs and careers are made of people, and the driving factor for hiding addiction in this case is not too much different from the family relationship reason…it can be a disaster to the relationship itself.
This might be kind of a “no-brainer”, but someone who suffers from addiction, regardless of the substance, risks facing serious legal issues. If the substance is illicit, the reason is obvious. Being caught possessing or consuming an illicit substance can cause legal problems for years. But if it’s even something like alcohol, they can risk facing legal consequences for driving under the influence.
Even worse, driving under the influence or intoxicated while operating a vehicle can pose serious safety hazards…not just for them, but for others sharing the roadways. Imagine if they injure or accidentally kill someone by engaging in that behavior…
And again, it all circles back to the people in their lives. If someone gets into legal trouble because of their addiction, it’s going to affect those around them and possibly cause them to incur judgement by those they love and care about.
Unfortunately, the only way to win is to seek treatment.
There’s a lot of guilt, shame, and risk associated with addiction. And although the stigma surrounding it has changed some over the last few years, it still causes many sufferers of substance use disorder to “suffer in silence” as opposed to bringing it out into the open. This guarded behavior is adapted as a survival mechanism by the sufferer, and unfortunately just causes the “boiling pot of water” to rise and flow over the top.
If you are currently suffering from substance use disorder, you need a safe place to be heard and helped. Our LGBTQ+ intensive outpatient program helps those with dual diagnosis conditions in the gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer community reach a better place in their life, where a brighter future is possible. Contact us today and give yourself a chance to set the stage for a happier and more fulfilled life to come.