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Insanity | Living with a Drug Addict
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | September 2018
Often families get lost in the battle over addiction. A loved one, for whatever reason, has succumb to chemical escapes. Lost in helplessness, and engaged in illogical arguments, the whole family loses their sanity.
The mind of the addict functions differently, coloring outside the normal lines. When we project our conceptual norms to understand the logic of an addict, our hopes are constantly shattered. Our predictability can’t be cast on the mind of the deranged. Simple contracts of agreement, effective with us, do not motivate the junkie. Logical arguments can’t be made with the illogical, simple truths are debated and facts are disregarded. The family’s efforts to fastidiously keep their end of a bargain is questioned, the blurred mind misrepresents facts, restating the facts in almost comical reconstructions that twist the known and imply that the helpful are actually cruel, but the user, with their inconsiderate deviations, feigns to be normal. The insane deems themselves logical, suffering from the insanity spewing from the sober.
The constant remapping of reality, done with such fervor, often leads those with common sense questioning their own sanity.
What does the family gain out of this knightly effort to save? Their driving need for normalcy demands an escape from the madness and chaos of addiction. The loved ones simply desire the wayward child or spouse (or parent) to quit. Period. Ultimately, this is not their choice, and success is beyond their control. The family, particularly parents, willingly exchange money, housing and concessions hoping to secure their goal—recovery. The user holds the power—it’s their problem, and their recovery. The constant heart ache becomes their bargaining chip; using the power to manipulate. “But I’ve been clean,” they say, “and you don’t trust me.” Cutting words fly, doors slam, and meanness permeates. We know things are not right yet. We’ve been through this cycle too many times. The family timidly reminds of the blatant violations and past broken promises. But logic doesn’t live here.
The weapons of honesty and trust are ruthlessly dragged into every conflict. “I’ve been honest, so you must trust.” Somehow the ‘live-in-the-moment’ attitude misses the magnitude and sacrifice that accompanies these virtuous character traits, rewards that are not the consequential return given for a single good deed. Even psychopathic liars tell the truth sometimes. One positive act doesn’t trim the choking vines grown from long patterns of disregard.
"The weapons of honesty and trust are ruthlessly dragged into every conflict."
In a baffling volley of insanity, the deceiver expects to be rewarded trust when their dishonesty is unproven. They are aghast we don’t believe. The unconscious suggests that a well contrived lie is as good as transparency, “if I am clever enough to deceive, then I should be trusted.” We see this same psychopathic expectation from the political leaders currently ruining our nation.
The past and the future are enemies to the addict. The chronically intoxicated relies on addictions to escape discomfort. The past reminds of horror. The bleak future spurs hopelessness. So, the addict chooses adaptations the relieve in the present. Lacking coping skills to skillfully navigate discomfort, they avoid learning from the past, and sacrificing for the future. The addict chases tranquility with a narrowness of vision, limited to immediate fulfillment.
The family’s determination to force sobriety eventually fades into discouragement. Unable to combat the craziness with logic, they absorb the onslaught of unsupported accusations; they addict still has the power. Hopeful loved ones know if the addict leaves, he carries with him the hope for change; for only he alone controls the next snort, inhale, or injection.
Strong relationships provide the strength necessary to navigate the vast wilderness of successful living. The addict forgets the importance of relationship bonds. Instead, uses any willing to satisfy the short-term cravings. More intimate relationships expose the lies. Developing relationships only accomplished with a wider appreciation for the past and future. Life lived in the moment excuses dishonesty because deceit has sizable benefits in the moment, skirting around hurts while sacrificing trust. Addiction scatters thoughts, and scattered thoughts seek addictions. Paradoxically, the predictable response to trouble (addiction) creates more chaos. We all self-deceive—not just the addict; but as with other caveats of the normal mind when the caveats are magnified they become an illness with a label and a treatment.
When the addict’s mind focuses on a want, chronology of past events no longer exists. The craving isn’t examined through the lens of time—drawing from past lessons and considering future consequence. The drive, free of the normal scruples, is artfully twisted and weaved to appear reasonable. The ego is soothed from successes weakly built on flimsy achievements, while the imagination ignores comingling failures. While the broken soul expects obvious missteps and violated agreements to be dismissed; accepting any justification sufficient to excuse abhorrent behaviors.
Stupefied, the family continues argues with fact, citing events from the past as evidence, forgetting that logic doesn’t live here, and facts are irrelevant. The family colors within the lines, while failing to outwit those who have no such constraints
How do we withdraw from this painful cycle? How do you support someone with no shared conceptual similarities? We rely on facts, history and hopes to direct behavior but these are non-existent in the addict’s decision-making processes. While we find hope in a long-term plan, the addict is focusing on immediate benefits, oblivious to long-term goals. We ignorantly believe in promises, looking at the week, month or years entwined with a new agreement, while the addict only sees the immediate benefits of a bed and a meal for another night—a momentary fix of human comfort.
The doesn’t purposely promise knowing the contract will be broken—at least most don’t. But their weak hold on the future, doesn’t grasp the implications of a commitment. At the time of need, the benefits are more salient, shortly after, the saliency fades, while the sacrifices being paid loom large. Broken commitments are wrongfully considered acceptable if accompanied by an excuse.
The cry of lunacy shrieks, “I’m breaking my end of the bargain, you are keeping yours—how come you don’t trust me?” But we submit, buy into the lunacy, sacrifice our logic, in hopes of sobriety—their sobriety and give again; and oddly, in a way, our own sobriety is sacrificed, and the madness of addiction becomes our own.