“I don’t have a problem…” is a phrase many people often will say when confronted by others who are questioning them about a potential addiction issue they may be suffering from. Most of those, like myself, who have found recovery from some form of an addiction or another, can remember those days when fear and insecurity ran our lives completely and produced such statements as this. When it comes to being in the throngs of any addiction, it doesn’t really make a difference as to how many friends, loved ones, or people in general ask of them as to whether they think they have a problem, because to them, they don’t.
Throughout college when I was very active in my drinking and drug addictions, I never thought I had any problem because I felt I was still managing my life just fine. I had many friends. I belonged to various social clubs and held astute positions within each of them. I maintained a GPA that was close to 4.0. I even held a part-time job which I was always prompt and diligent for. In my eyes, everyone around me that I partied with was no different and it became a pattern to often tell myself that they were all just like me. In my senior year, when I was forced to see addiction counselors surrounding a previous night of serious binging, I can remember specifically telling them I was fine and didn’t have a problem. The truth was, until my life started to get out of control on a daily basis, saying those words were quite easy and I continued to believe them. Six months after graduating from college though, my tune began to change. When incidents like that one night of binging in college starting happening regularly for me, when the sick days began piling up at my new place of employment, and when the partying turned into every night of the week for me, it became too hard to hide anymore behind those words of saying I didn’t have a problem, because I did and because my life had become seriously unmanageable.
People in all forms of recovery from any addiction will say that until one’s life becomes truly unmanageable, that no amount of confrontation, control, or accusations from others towards the addict will make any bit of difference. In my case, that was true, not only for drinking and drugs, but for all the other addictions I actively suffered from for most of my life.
Recently, I’ve had to face this very same issue but from the other perspective of having to see and deal with someone else’s addiction. My partner deals with some overeating issues that are based upon his genetics, stress, and past traumas. For him, food has often been his weakness and his go to addiction. Currently he is managing it as well as he’s able to through the Weight Watchers program. There are times though I still see him overeating or consuming things that I would deem as unhealthy and have told him so. None of which have been met with any type of sincere graciousness or positive acknowledgement but I’m beginning to understand why now. It’s no different as to how I reacted to so many that used to try to get me to see the things I was still doing that were addictive based. I never listened to anyone’s questions or suggestions and had to fall down a lot more on my own to truly get it. This has helped me to see that my pointing out of my partner’s still active addictive behaviors is doing nothing more than causing him greater irritation, anger, and sometimes even more of the addiction itself, just like it did to me when others nagged me on my own addictions. I know I have more work to do in this area, but I am grateful I am seeing this a lot more clearly now.
I’m finding the best way I can support anyone now in dealing with their addictions is to detach from doing my repeated attempts to get them to see it, and to love them instead as best as I can, without enabling them into doing their addictive behaviors even more. The good thing about my partner is that he has a relationship with God and I believe that God is guiding him to a healthier recovery from his addiction. For those who may be in relationships with others who are in serious denial of their own addictions and have no relationship with God, the only thing you can do is work on yourself, get stronger, and make the decision whether it’s truly healthy anymore to remain with the person. Sometimes the act of walking away will be enough of showing an addict just how unmanageable their life has become and maybe then, they will no longer be able to say they don’t have a problem.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson