Rock Bottom: Knowing When to Stop Digging

Addiction is a non-discriminating disease of the brain. Individuals of any age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic level can develop and suffer from a substance abuse disorder. As a potentially fatal affliction, addiction doesn’t care about an individual’s aspirations and goals, whether they have a family to care for or whether they’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. When an individual struggles with a physical dependency and a substance abuse disorder, it not only costs them their physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual health, but also their financial stability, independence, and many of the relationships that had been important to them.

Before we had the benefit of having a wealth of addiction research from which we could learn about this chronic disease, it was commonly thought that individuals in active addiction were merely bad people: selfish, egotistical, irresponsible, and of weak will and character. As a result, many laws were put into place that offered only punitive treatments for addicted people, which meant that instead of receiving treatment for addiction that allowed these individuals to recover, they were punished for their disease in the hopes that it would discourage them from continuing with their addictions.

However, the problem with this punitive model is that it assumed addiction was a behavioral problem that was more like a crime than anything else. Legal repercussions covered the consequences of individuals’ behaviors that occurred in the name of their dependencies, but it soon became apparent that many of these individuals returned to substance abuse once they’d fulfilled their sentences.

Taking punitive action against people who struggle with addiction isn’t the only common fallacy when it comes to addressing substance abuse. The expression “hitting rock bottom” is commonly used to refer to when an addicted person reaches a low point in life that is a direct result of their addiction. We have come to better understand addiction as a chronic illness, but many have held onto the assumption that before an addicted person can really decide to get sober and choose to receive addiction treatment, the person must hit rock bottom first.

This line of thinking narrowly defines the parameters of what it means to hit rock bottom. It encourages the notion that an addicted person couldn’t possibly begin to recover from substance abuse until they’ve become jobless, homeless, financially destitute, and rejected by family and friends. “Rock bottom” in this sense is when a person has reached a point in life in which they just couldn’t possibly bear any additional hardships related to their addiction. However, “rock bottom” is different for each person who experiences it.

Rock Bottom: The End of the Downward Spiral

Everyone has things they could lose, whether it be a job, a family, a home, a car, friends, family heirlooms, and so on. Identifying what rock bottom looks like for a person operates on the principle that the longer an individual remains in active addiction, the more harm, damage, or destruction the addiction will have on the person’s life. Grappling with addiction is often compared to being in a downward spiral during which an individual’s thought patterns, having been warped and distorted by addiction, lead him or her to a variety of unfortunate situations.

These can include committing crimes, lying and stealing from loved ones, selling valuable belongings to obtain money to fund their addiction, losing jobs and other opportunities, ending up with a criminal record that will affect future opportunities, putting loved ones in danger, and so on. The phrase “hitting rock bottom” is used to refer to the point in which an addicted person has reached such a low point in life that he or she has nothing left to lose. From this point, the only place left to go is up.

How Do You Know When You’ve Hit Rock Bottom?

The extent to which an individual has a choice in their rock bottom is often overlooked, especially by those individuals who the person in active addiction may know. Many assume that before one is ready to receive help and treatment for a substance use disorder, the person must reach this ultimate low point in their life so that can realize they’ve reached a point when they must stop digging and climb out of their hole if they want to live. However, each person has a choice, and one’s “rock bottom” can happen at any time.

When an individual develops an addiction, they begin by trying to manage their dependency so that it doesn’t cost them anything. You’ve likely heard the expression “functioning alcoholic” or “functioning addict” to refer to individuals who suffer from active addiction but whose lives don’t appear, at least at a glance, to have been damaged by their substance abuse disorder.

Despite the myth that a select few can prevent addiction from causing hardships, the reality of this situation is that they’ve merely been able to delay what is ultimately inevitable. As an individual continues to live in active addiction, he or she will experience hardships and begin losing things as a result. As addiction progresses over time, even “functioning” addicted people will become less and less functional as their substance abuse disorder triggers the downward spiral.

One of the most challenging things a person in active addiction will ever do is decide that it’s time to begin the journey of recovery. As a disease, addiction protects itself by making it exceedingly difficult for people in this position to realize that they no longer want to live in the throes of dependency. Each time an addicted person digs the hole a little deeper, it is an opportunity to decide that enough is enough and begin the rehabilitation process at a professional facility.

Rock bottom isn’t a universal state. Instead, it is determined by each person on an individual basis. It essentially comes down to this: How much more does the individual want to lose before they decide that the cost of addiction is too high?

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If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Maryland House Detox is here to help. We have a team of knowledgeable, caring recovery specialists that have helped many people begin the journey of recovery. Don’t wait—call us today at 888-263-0631 or connect with us online.

7 Common Personality Traits of Those Struggling With Addiction

While no two people are the same, there are often several personality traits associated with addiction that are commonly shared. If you or a loved one is struggling with the disease of addiction, it can be helpful to understand these underlying causes to properly deal with the situation at hand. If you believe someone you know is likely to form an addictive habit, keep an eye on these traits and address them promptly.

#1 – Impulsive Behavior

Almost everyone with an addiction displays erratic and impulsive behavior in one form or another. Impulsive behavior is one of the most apparent personality traits found in those struggling with addiction. Impulsivity can be noticed from a young age, and usually, it’s apparent in multiple areas of a person’s life.

Impulsive people need to feel as if they are in control, and they have difficulty doing things in moderation. They tend to see everything as “all or nothing,” and won’t do something unless they can do it all the way. There is no gray area or middle ground. This is often called “black-and-white thinking” and is probably one of the more definitive personality traits of addiction. An example of this would be a sudden and drastic decision without much thought put into it such as randomly deciding to get a tattoo on a Tuesday morning or cutting off all of one’s hair on a whim.

#2 – Nonconformity

People who struggle with addiction usually show a general disdain for societal values and trends. They place a high value on nonconformity and prefer to separate themselves from the crowd. This often leads to reclusiveness and social alienation. This is one of the more noticeable personality traits that come along with addiction.

Nonconformity is associated with a general affinity toward deviance and places value on participating in activities that are considered taboo or illegal. Most nonconformists pride themselves on being different from others, a trait that can ultimately lead to demise. A common description of this condition is when one is “terminally unique.” While it is good to be an individual and possess unique qualities, alienating yourself from the rest of society only makes life more difficult.

#3 – Inability to Deal with Stress

Addictions are often used as coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety and some legitimate mental illness. This idea is highly counterintuitive, yet it is one of the common personality traits of addicts. People who can’t deal with stress in healthy ways often turn to obsessive behaviors as a solution. By using outside things, they can take the focus off the internal turmoil they may be experiencing.  They believe they can self-medicate to get better. And, this method of self-medicating will inevitably lead to implosion.

Using drugs and alcohol to cope with emotional stress or pain is only a temporary solution—a “Band-Aid.” To get out of this detrimental cycle, a period of abstinence is required. Viewing situations realistically while intoxicated is impossible. Additionally, people who suffer from addiction usually have to be taught coping skills. Most lack coping skills entirely and using is the only coping mechanism that they know. While it is difficult to deprogram a human being, it is not impossible. It takes a lot of diligence and dedication, and it often requires professional help.

#4 – Denial

Denial is another one of the more common personality traits associated with addiction. Most people realize when they are in a negative situation, but people suffering from addiction often do not. This attitude prevents them from seeing things as they are and allows them to continue obsessive behavior and using without realizing or coming to terms with the consequences.

Denial is very real,and its power is phenomenal. It showcases the innate power of the human brain. Drugs and alcohol create an altered reality that’s much easier to cope with. Because of this, many of those with addiction have trouble with living life on life’s terms. Living in denial separates the person from the harmful reality of the life and unhealthy activities they are engaging in, as well as protects them from any liability for their actions.

#5 – Lack of Patience

People who have trouble waiting and desire instant gratification often find themselves gravitating toward addiction. With addiction, people need pleasure and fulfillment right away and don’t have the necessary patience to wait. They live from second to second, feeling to feeling, moment to moment. Most are also reconciled to the fact that they could die anytime.

Generally, those with addictions have nothing to lose. There is no tomorrow. If they want something, they want it right then. They will go to great lengths and means to make whatever they desire theirs. The overwhelming desire for instant gratification makes the person dangerous. Anything separating them from whatever it might be that they’re after is viewed as an obstacle to be overcome by any means necessary, even if it’s a person.

#6 – Instability

People struggling with addiction are, for the most part, constantly up and down. These vast mood swings are often attributed to drug use, but instability itself is one of the personality traits to look out for in addiction. Instability can be characterized as emotional, physical or mental. Many will turn to drugs and alcohol as a means to find a middle ground, but often, it merely exacerbates the instability.

It is challenging to stabilize your mood if you are consistently using substances. The only constant is that there is no stability. Most people who have the disease of addiction tend to also have an accompanying mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is known as adual-diagnosis.

#7 – Difficulty Asking for Help

Most people who have an addiction to alcohol or drugs are highly self-sufficient people—often to a fault. Self-sufficiency is a personality trait that goes overlooked. What might seem like a healthy level of self-sufficiency may just be a masquerade of self-destructive behavior. With an inflated sense of self and ego comes an inability to admit defeat or failure.

With an inflated sense of self and ego comes an inability to admit defeat or failure. People with addictions often have difficulty asking for help, even in the smallest form. Lack of trust is another inherent trait that comes with addiction. So, not only do they have difficulty asking for help, but they also don’t trust many people—if any. So, the two combined make asking for help next to impossible.

In some treatment settings, asking for help is part of the treatment plan. Asking for help can be the difference between life and death. Don’t let your addiction get in the way of your asking for help when you need it. Help is always available for those who desire it.

There are some personality traits that can indicate a tendency for addictive behavior. While these traits by themselves do not automatically mean that you or a loved one has an addiction, they do possess the propensity to be indicative of a problem.  

Get Help for Addiction Today

Addiction is a serious issue and should be dealt with accordingly. If you or someone you know is struggling with ending drug or alcohol use and want to start recovery, Maryland House Detox can help. For more information on addiction and treatment options, call us at 888-263-0631.

Study: Opioids, Marijuana Found in Drugged-Driving Accidents

Most people are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving or at least have been warned about them. But many probably aren’t thinking much about crossing paths with drug-impaired drivers. A recent Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report suggests that needs to change and soon.

The report titled, “Drug-Impaired Driving: Marijuana and Opioids Raise Critical Issues for States,” raises grave concerns when it comes to motorists who use drugs–sometimes more than one at the same time–and then get behind the wheel.

According to the data presented, 44 percent of fatally injured drivers with known results tested positive for drugs in 2016, an increase of 28 percent from just 10 years before. More than half of these motorists tested positive for marijuana, opioids, or a combination of both in their systems, the report said.

A news release offers a further breakdown of the data, saying: “Among drug-positive fatally-injured drivers in 2016, 38 percent tested positive for some form of marijuana, 16 percent tested positive for opioids, and four percent tested positive for both marijuana and opioids.”

It is not clear from the data presented if the evidence of drug use contributed to the cause of the crashes studied. Still, it raises concerns for two important reasons.

First, the U.S. is grappling with a public health emergency in which opioid-related overdoses have hit record numbers never seen before. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that opioid overdoses kill 115 people a day. The opioids involved include prescription pain medications, heroin, and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, the agency says.

Second, as the GHSA notes, “marijuana use is rapidly becoming normalized” as more states are considering legalizing the substance for medical and recreational purposes. Recreational marijuana is already legal in nine states and in the District of Columbia, and medical marijuana has been approved in 30 states and in the District of Columbia.

It also is interesting to note that while drugged driving appears to be increasing, data show that the presence of alcohol in fatally-injured drivers dipped slightly lower in the 10-year period of 2006 and 2016. It fell from 41 percent in 2006 to 38 percent in 2016.

Why Is It Hard to Detect Drugged Drivers?

While it is known that marijuana and opioids can impair driving and cause road accidents, what’s not as clear is how to best understand and address the unique challenges that drug-impaired driving raises. The following complicates the picture as experts try to understand the scope of the “drugged driving” problem:

  • A lack of a nationally accepted method to test drivers for drug impairment
  • The high multitude of drugs to test drivers for; and
  • The fact that different drugs affect drivers differently; not everyone responds to drugs the same

 

The report also notes that the presence of drugs in one’s system does not imply someone is impaired. Also, “no data sources accurately document how frequently drivers have a measurable amount of drug in their systems, much less how frequently they are impaired by drugs,” it says.

The report’s author, Dr. Jim Hedlund, who is also a former senior official with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, explained the findings in a statement, saying:

“Drugs can impair, and drug-impaired drivers can crash. But it’s impossible to understand the full scope of the drugged driving problem because many drivers who are arrested or involved in crashes, even those who are killed, are not tested for drugs. Drivers who are drug-positive may not necessarily be impaired.”

Multiple Drug Use Also a Concern

Research also highlights another trend officials have noticed. Polydrug use, the practice of using two or more potentially-impairing substances at the same time, appears to be happening more frequently.

According to the report, “In 2016, 51 percent of drug-positive fatally injured drivers were found positive for two or more drugs. Alcohol is often in the mix as well: 49 percent of drivers killed in crashes who tested positive for alcohol in 2016 also tested positive for drugs.”

Alcohol is the most commonly used substance among polydrug users. Many people use the two together to increase their state of intoxication or enhance the highs of one drug with the other. The substance only adds to the danger as it is a depressant.

Pairing the psychoactive drug marijuana with alcohol, two depressants, can bring on various effects—from impaired judgment, nausea and vomiting, to having reactions of panic, anxiety or paranoia. Concurrent alcohol and opioid use can lead to extreme drowsiness, blackouts, and a loss of consciousness. Respiratory failure also can increase the likelihood of overdose.

Views of Drug Use’s Effects on Driving Vary

Drivers’ perceptions about substance use plays a significant role in how they view drugged driving.

The report highlights differing views on marijuana’s effects on driving. It reports that while one 2017 national survey found that nearly 90 percent of drivers said they feel it is unacceptable to drive after using marijuana, survey respondents and focus groups in Colorado and Washington state reported they don’t believe marijuana use impairs driving at all; some believe using the substance improves their driving.

“Too many people operate under the false belief that marijuana or opioids don’t impair their ability to drive, or even that these drugs make them safer drivers,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins in the statement. “Busting this myth requires states to expand their impaired driving campaigns to include marijuana and opioids along with alcohol to show drivers that impairment is impairment, regardless of substance.”

 

The report offers a number of recommendations to states, including:

  • Adding drug-impaired driving messages, particularly those about marijuana- and prescription drug-impaired driving, to their impaired driving campaigns
  • Considering a campaign with physicians and pharmacists on prescription drug warnings
  • Testing all fatally injured drivers, and all surviving drivers in a fatal crash who may be at fault, for drugs and alcohol

Ralph Blackman, president and CEO of Responsibility.org., which funded the study, said in the report’s statement that alcohol-impaired driving and drug-impaired driving can no longer be treated as separate issues.

“Drunk driving, which was involved in 28 percent of 2016 traffic fatalities, remains a critical issue; however, to curb impaired driving, we have to think about the combination of substances drivers are often putting into their systems at the same time,” Blackman said.

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