If you're struggling with thoughts of suicide, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Physical, Mental and Emotional Dependence
If we are struggling to make sense of our addictions, or if perhaps we're first discovering that we're addicts, we can have a hard time understanding dependence and what that term actually means. The dependence we feel as part of our addictions has to do with the strong attachment we feel to our drug of choice, how we feel we can't live without it, whether physically, emotionally, or both. Some of us develop bio-chemical dependencies on our drug of choice, where our withdrawal can present dangerous and even fatal consequences. Others of us form mental and emotional attachments, even though physically we're not technically addicted to it. When we want to understand dependence a little more, it can help to look at how dependence can tend to feel for those of us struggling with addiction. Some of us might determine when looking at our patterns that we're not addicts after all, but instead using a drug or behavior temporarily as a crutch, to help us get through a tough time we're going though for example. We might be able to quit much more easily than other people and not feel like we're struggling with a strong dependence, the way those with addiction tend to.
The Lifestyles We Develop
Whether or not the dependence we feel is a physically endangering one or a mental and emotional one, many of us develop a lifestyle dependence on our drug of choice, meaning we've created entire lifestyles around our addiction. We've adopted routines to support our addiction. We've developed such a strong lifestyle attachment to our drug of choice that it has become ingrained in our routines, habits, behavioral patterns and ways of living. It becomes part of our identity. We do whatever we have to do to make sure we have access to our drug of choice. We prioritize it over everything else. Even if we can't financially afford it, for example, we will find a way to acquire it. That's how strong our dependence has become. Many of us feel as though we can't function without our drug of choice. It becomes our coping mechanism, our way of soothing ourselves when we're troubled, calming ourselves down when we're upset, and uplifting ourselves when we're down. For some of us, the chance to use at the end of the day is all the motivation we need to get through the day. For many of us, we can't wake ourselves up fully without it, and we use it as a source of energy, or we can't fall asleep without it and need it to relax. Many of us use to cope with our difficult relationships, our stressful family dynamics, and challenges at work. We use whenever our kids are acting up, or we feel misunderstood by our spouse. We use whenever we're feeling worried, insecure or anxious. Whatever difficult emotions arise that we have a hard time dealing with, our drug of choice often becomes our preferred means of escape, comfort, distraction and solace. We can tell we're struggling with a dependence issue when we've developed a strong need for, and attachment to, our drug of choice.
Dependence and Mental Health
For many of us, our dependence brings about some very painful emotions – desperation, powerlessness, fear and hopelessness. We can feel totally out of control, like our power has been taken away from us. We can feel defenseless, lost and alone. When we've tried to quit multiple times and can't seem to, no matter how hard we try, this is a sign we've developed a dependence. We can feel like all hope is lost, and we're inclined to give up trying altogether. Our dependence issues can contribute to our depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. The dependence we feel can be so intense and overpowering that we consider suicide because we feel we have no alternative, no other way to save ourselves.
Dependence and Addictive Patterns
When we have a dependence issue that fuels our addictive patterns, we can find ourselves continually relapsing. We can feel increasingly frustrated, fed up with ourselves, and disappointed in ourselves. Our addictive patterns can fuel our mental health issues because it's extremely depressing and anxiety-inducing to constantly feel as though you want to quit but can't. The desperation we feel, along with the countless unsuccessful attempts to quit, can convince us that recovery is impossible. We can feel as though we've given up on ourselves altogether. How low we feel, how disappointed and defeated we feel, can prompt us to relapse, contributing to the recurring cycles of dependence that make it so hard for us to quit.
Professional Support for Dependence Issues
How can we handle our dependence issues, especially if we've tried to get better and haven't been able to? One thing to try is getting professional help. Completing a treatment program, working with a therapist and getting adequate support can be highly beneficial in helping us to recover, particularly when we've already tried to get sober alone but continue to relapse. We can learn new tools and healing practices to help us shed our dependence and to move through addictive cravings and urges successfully. We can get help creating relapse prevention plans for ourselves and receive helpful aftercare services and resources. We can benefit from the years of experience and expertise that professionals have, many of whom are recovering addicts themselves and are trained extensively in addiction recovery. We can be supported by others in recovery and inspired by the success stories we hear. We can be strengthened and empowered by sharing our stories, and we can share with others all of the difficult emotions, the disappointment and regret, the sadness and anxiety – as well as all of the joy, fulfillment and inner peace – that come with recovery.
Professional help can make all the difference in your child’s life. We are dedicated to helping your child achieve sobriety and live up to their full potential.
Reach out to WinGate Wilderness Therapy today.
P.O. Box 347
Kanab, UT 84741