Why It’s Important to Realize that Addicted People Are Wounded People

Why It’s Important to Realize that Addicted People Are Wounded People

Approaching addiction as a disease has a direct impact on how the treatment of that disease should happen

An internal sense of justice or tough love causes many people to draw strong lines around addicts and addiction. Many people see addicts as reckless people of weak character. When treatment professionals or members of the recovery community refer to addiction as a disease and addicts as sick people, these hardliners bristle. It is important to realize, however, that addiction is in fact a disease and addicted people are among the most wounded people in our culture.

Understanding Addiction as a Disease

While it is certainly true that some people become addicted to drugs and alcohol due to reckless partying, millions of people never do anything reckless or irresponsible at all. Some are born with a genetic predisposition toward addiction. Some become addicted to prescription painkillers following surgery. But regardless of how the disease was established, once a person becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol his or her ability to make healthy decisions is destroyed. Addicts do not choose to get drunk or high. The disease changes the neural chemistry of the brain, building near reflexive behavioral patterns that are much more powerful than conscious thought or choice. The results can be compared in some ways to the effects of blunt trauma on the brain.

Understanding addiction as a disease means that instead of focusing on blame or judgment the people involved concentrate on ending the injurious behavior and allowing the body to heal from its wounds. When a person enters an emergency room with a gunshot wound, for instance, the medical staff focuses on stopping the bleeding and stabilizing the patient. The time for assigning blame or uncovering motivations comes much later – if ever.

Addiction also causes relational, emotional and physiological wounds for the addict. Recognizing those wounds and endeavoring to help the addict begin to experience healing in those areas is an important aspect of the treatment process.

How Viewing Addicts as Wounded Affects Treatment

Approaching addiction as a disease has a direct impact on how the treatment of that disease should happen. The following are a few examples of how this understanding of addiction changes treatment:

  • A careful and thorough diagnosis of all aspects of the addict’s mental health
  • Creating opportunities for the addict to become mindful of the emotions that drive her
  • Enhancing communication effectiveness and the establishment of personal boundaries
  • Teaching family and friends about the underlying principles of addiction and codependence
  • Casting a realistic and exciting vision for a future full of healing and wellness

This kind of treatment is often most effective in residential programs that allow the patient to focus his entire attention and energy on healing.

24-Hour Addiction Counseling Helpline

One of the most important things to understand about wounds is that they heal. The wounds suffered by an addict can be effectively treated. Millions of recovered addicts, for instance, have become addiction counselors and recovery supporters themselves.

If you would like more information about treating addicted people as wounded people, or if you would like to find the most effective and successful treatment program for yourself or an addicted loved one, please call our toll-free helpline any time. Our staff members are standing by 24-hours a day with sensitive, confidential advice and assistance. Don’t let your wounds define you. We can help you overcome this disease. Call now.