Watching a friend or loved one struggle with an LSD addiction can be incredibly painful and frustrating. It often seems that the addict is bent on destroying himself and is blind to the love and support on offer. When it seems that a close friend is choosing drugs over his healthy relationships it can even be insulting. The truth, however, is that addiction is a disease that drives behavior in a way that is much more powerful than conscious thought. Your friend is likely not actually choosing drugs over you, he simply can’t control himself. There are some very important things you may be able to accomplish as the friend of an addict; things that may help your friend find freedom some day.
Addiction is a confusing disease, especially for bystanders. Most human behavior is driven by a part of the brain called the “reward center.” This area, located in the prefrontal cortex, uses a system of chemical signals and responses to habitualize as many behaviors as possible so that the conscious part of the brain is available for higher functions. This part of the brain is directly responsible for the following functions:
- Forming and recalling memories
- Impulse control
- Emotional management
- Anger and anxiety response
- Behavioral rituals and routines
- Appetite and eating
- Sexual attraction and response
Drugs super-charge this system; causing immediate reward and blotting out any feelings of emotional or physical pain or distress. The brain recognizes this relief and builds neural pathways designed to keep it coming. Once these pathways have been established they drive behavior much more powerfully than rational thought. Thus, even when an addict doesn’t want to use drugs, his brain drives him to. This leads to increased feelings of depression, anxiety or frustration which, in turn, the brain will want to be relieved of. Thus the cycle of pain and self-medication is established.
Understanding the emotional and physiological functioning of addiction can help friends and loved ones tolerate the destructive behaviors of an addict without giving up hope for eventual recovery.
Understanding and Avoiding Codependency
Another important thing for the friends and family of an addict to understand is how the disease affects bystanders. Things like a desire to help, a fear of consequences, frustration, disappointment, rage, and self-blame can cause a wide range of harmful feelings and behaviors known therapeutically as codependency. A few examples of codependent behaviors include the following:
- Making excuses or covering for the actions of an addict
- Avoiding conflict with an addict at all costs
- Feeling that somehow you are to blame for your friend’s actions
- Fear of relational consequences if you were to confront your friend about your concerns for him
- Offering financial assistance, a place to stay or other things that may enable your friend’s disease to progress
If left untreated codependency greatly increases the likelihood that you may become involved in substance abuse as well.
Addiction Recovery Help
If you would like more information about how to best help your addicted friend please call our toll-free addiction recovery helpline. Our counselors are available twenty-four hours a day with the following free services:
- Confidential advice
- Advice about how to talk to your addicted friend
- Access to the best recovery programs
- Codependency counseling
We’re available any time of day or night with free, no-strings-attached advice. Call now.