Note: More to Life with Faith and Lois is designed to be heard, not read. We hope you’ll listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that won’t be on this page. Our transcripts are generated with speech recognition software and may contain errors. 

 

Lois                        

Welcome to the podcast, More to Life with Faith and Lois.

Faith                   

I’m Faith

Lois                          

And I’m Lois.

Faith                      

Our podcast explores life’s many transitions that inspire and daunt us.

Lois                       

What a beautiful day to continue with our podcast Faith.

Faith

This is a great. I can feel spring coming our way.

Lois                        

It’s just around the corner and we’re working through some super challenging and inspiring issues as we dive into transitions of all sorts. And you know what? If you’re facing a transition that we have not yet covered and you’re worried that we might miss, we would love to hear from you. And there are a number of ways you can reach out to us.

Faith                     

You can just post on Facebook, you can do Stitcher, you can do Apple, whatever it is that you’re listening. You can go to our website and you can email us and give us some direction as to the things you want to hear about.

Lois                       

We would love that. We’ve followed your lead on a lot of these. So we’re so excited that many of you are jumping on board with this. And you know, our website www.moretolifewithfaithandlois.com. It’s very easy to navigate and you’ll find out all of the latest stuff that we are doing and we want to encourage you on whatever transition you’re going through. So guess what, Faith and I respond to to those kinds of things. If you’re listening right now, if you would like to share this podcast with somebody when you’re at the end of it, that would be wonderful too.

Faith                     

Oh, we would love that because everyone has something that you know we struggle with and some of your friends, maybe some family members have struggled more than normal and the things they become addicted to. So yes, share it because we want to spread our thoughts and your thoughts and maybe in a way to open the door to a good conversation.

Lois                       

And Faith is such a teaser because she just gave you the title of our wonderful podcast. Yeah. This is like a fabulous, I love it because this is how we breathe through all of our podcasts. This is a podcast that is difficult and it hits us on all sorts of levels because it can be in many parts of our lives. Episode 66 Transition: The Impact of Addiction. And this is not an easy one.

Faith                   

It is not an easy one because most of the time when we have a form of an addiction, we don’t even know we have it. We’re just drawn to something. And how often have you maybe had a friend or a family member, where they smoke and you said, you know, can you give it up? And they go, oh, I can give it up anytime – only to find out they can’t. And so that’s where the addictions come in and sometimes they aren’t even aware that they’ve become addicted to the substance.

Lois                       

That is so powerful and so true. So we’re going to dig very deep in the next 20 minutes. We hope you hang around with us and any comments you have, please let us know. Adam Felman in Medical News Today wrote a really great definition and he said that addiction is a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity or substance even though it is causing psychological and physical harm. So it is this inability to stop exactly what you just said and sometimes you don’t even know it.

Faith                    

You don’t even know it, and you don’t even recognize sometimes kind of the debris of what is happening in other people’s lives around you that care about you. How long did it take for us to realize that secondhand smoke was actually impacting other people’s lungs? Nobody ever thought about that years ago. And now we know that yes, everyone that you were smoking around was being impacted by those cigarettes. So it’s the coming to a place of knowledge, of understanding, of seeing that your behavior, your addiction is impacting those around you.

Lois                      

Felman continues, when a person experiences addiction, they cannot control how they use a substance or partake in an activity and they become dependent on it to cope with daily life. And one of the reasons we really run want to work on addiction in terms of this podcast is because there’s a price tag to this. The addiction to alcohol, tobacco or illicit drugs, prescription opioids, it costs our economy more than $740 billion in treatment costs, lost work, and the effects of crime. It’s huge. So and monumental, my goodness.

Faith                   

So there you see the actual financial residual throughout our economy and with those around us and our family members because you’re spending money on something that is taking away from those that you love and care about. Yes, it has a huge impact all the way around.

Lois                      

So if you’re someone right now who’s listening and is struggling with addiction, we want you to know there is help and there are a number of resources that we’re going to add into our website that you’ll be able to check in on. If you’re a family member whose loved one is struggling with addiction, we’re going to offer some ideas on how to engage with and support that person because it’s huge. If you know someone or you’re part of a community with someone they might need you like absolutely like right now.

Faith                   

And that hesitancy that we have to step in because we’re a little nervous to bring it up. We’ll talk about that as well.

Lois                        

Faith, I have to ask you, why is it hard sometimes for someone who’s not addicted. So like a non-addictive person to empathize with somebody who is steeped in addiction.

Faith                    

Mainly because you’re not addicted to the same substance that they are. So we tend to kind of get the higher ground mentality and going like, well just stop it buck up and change it. Why are you doing this? Or go get help, do something about it. And so we want action and one of the reasons we want to see them take action is that we feel powerless to help them. And so in that sense of being powerless, we want to fix it, we want to see it change because if they change it then it will be better for us as well as better for them.

Lois                      

So sadly it turns into all about us.

Faith                    

It does in a roundabout way, it does not. It doesn’t mean that we don’t care and love them and everything, but we feel the stress. We feel the tension, we feel the betrayal, the lies, the deceitfulness that goes around addictions. And so we want that to stop. We want the behavior to stop. And the reality is we’re looking at a bigger issue here. It’s not just the behaviors. The behaviors might be woven into some of this, but the addiction is causing most of those behaviors.

Lois                      

If you’re facing addiction or if it’s addiction of a loved one. One of the things I’ve really had to learn in my lifetime, the addicted person has to decide what they want to do with their lives. So you can be the best supporter in the world, the best spouse, mother, sister, Stepdad, whatever you are. And if that person doesn’t want to make the change, it really won’t happen. It won’t happen. And I think that’s the other piece that’s frustrating for a non-addictive person, is that you feel like you offered, you’ve been there, you’ve walked them to a facility. All of these things and it doesn’t work and you know what? Don’t give up. At the end of the day as we’re going to go through everything we’re going to share with you, can I encourage you from the bottom of my heart and personal experience, that’s the only hope we have for those we care about who are steeped in addiction. Now, sometimes you have to walk away. There’s no doubt, but there will be times even when you walk away that you end up re-entering someone’s life. So if you can have it in your mind that yes, it is all up to them and it’s not your responsibility. Someone recently said to me, what do you have in your backpack, Lois? Are you carrying someone in your backpack? And I thought, Oh yeah, I need to take that backpack off and give it to this person. It was a very great mental picture for me. At the same time, I sometimes have to revisit that backpack, hand it back and say, I want to walk with you on that journey.

Faith                 

Yes, it’s walking alongside, not carrying them, but you can’t even walk alongside if they don’t want you to walk alongside. And so they may push you away, but that doesn’t mean you give up. And I love that because it’s having hope and then a belief in that human being to say, I believe you can be victorious. I believe you can overcome. And oftentimes it’s just that consistency. You’re always there kind of like the one shoe you can’t get rid of. And eventually somewhere down the road they go, why did you hang out with me? Why did you not give up? I hear that a lot. You know, as a therapist, it’s like, why don’t you give up on me? And I go, because you’re worth it. You’re worth it. And so when you see the value of a human life, when you see the value that is there that exists, the real person that’s beneath all the addiction, that’s what you’re fighting for. You’re fighting for that real person.

Lois                       

You’re in their corner. I love it. So we’re using a number of sources for our conversation today. You want to check any of these on your own? Please do Medical News Today, Psychology Today and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, they have so much information on this subject that if you are either struggling with addiction or struggling with a loved one or you know, just feeling the impact of addiction like we’re talking about today, these resources, will take you on a very deep dive and we will include their websites on our website later on as we explore this really difficult transition. We also want to say that addiction includes all sorts of substances and I don’t know which of them come top of mind to you, but we’ll just rattle a few off: like alcohol or opioids or cocaine, nicotine, food, sex. You were talking earlier about all of our electronic addictions.

Faith                

Absolutely. They’re showing more and more that we get addicted to our phones and our iPads and that when you put them down and say you can’t have them for a day or two, you actually go into some withdrawal because it’s affecting how our brain is seeing and working on things and it’s soothing. It’s kind of a hypnotic thing that when we’re just doing that, what we know to do with our thumbs on the phone and it becomes addictive.

Lois                        

That’s right. And other behaviors like gambling can become completely addictive. There is scientific evidence that the addictive substances and behaviors, they share this neurobiological feature. In other words, they kind of activate these brain pathways of reward and reinforcement. I mean, people don’t get addicted because they don’t like it. They get addicted because they like the result of this. And so many of this involves dopamine. Absolutely. We hear about this all the time. This is why I have family members who run on a regular basis so they can get a natural dopamine endorphin high. This is what you get when you participate in these activities or behaviors.

Faith                  

And all the addictions will go to the pleasure part of the brain. And so it’s igniting pleasure, pleasure, pleasure over and over and over again. And so that’s where the addiction takes place. When you break away from that, then the brain craves it. Like I want to be pleasured again. I want to have that feeling again. And that’s where we go back to it.

Lois                       

And for those of us who are in the non-addictive state, sometimes we forget that it’s the pleasure that keeps people there. We look at the destruction, we look at what’s happened in the aftermath. So we go, why? Why would anybody do that? And like you said before, buck up. Well, it’s because it actually feels good when I’m doing this. And I think that’s something for all of us to not forget because there’s so much reward and motivation for using. But here’s also something we don’t hear very often. And that is that research documents that recovery is the rule rather than the exception. We hear right now of so many people who have died as a result of overdoses. And it’s the most tragic when you think of fentanyl and opioids and what they’re doing. And yet if you balance them honestly against the numbers of people who recover, recovery rates are higher than deaths. Now we need to pay attention to the deaths because that’s why those of us who love people who are addicted want to intervene and step in. But the truth is recovery does happen. It does work and we want to talk about that too.

Faith                

Absolutely. The key thing about the recovery is that well you may be thinking or remembering somebody while I know this person went to recovery and it failed, they need to go back. That’s right. Relapse is part of it and they have shown that someone who relapses even four or five times or more, they have the better success rate because ultimately there’ll be that one final breakthrough and we’re going to get to the core of what some of the things that motivate going to an addiction to begin with because there’s an underlying issue going on a long with what is going on in the brain and the dopamine and all of that. That is that pleasure piece. But there’s also an avoidance piece and so it’s a combination of both of what a person has to travel through and it’s hard. It’s a hard journey for someone who has an addiction.

Lois                     

So let’s look at addiction right now. There isn’t just one cause you know, sometimes people say, well, my family member and therefore I’m just going to have this in my genetic role. But the truth is when you actually go across the board with people who are addicted, there are so many other factors besides genetics. Genetics could play a role in it, but there are social, psychological, environmental factors that have just as heavy of an influence on substance abuse. Recently I heard a great analogy that said, if every member of your family actually does have addiction problems, then of all people, you would know better than anyone else what not to do because you’ve seen it. So you can look at genetics in many ways, but it’s not the only reason.

Faith                    

It isn’t the only reason: experiences trauma and post-traumatic stress. There’s so many different factors that can play into it, but we’re avoiding something. We’re going to something else where we feel pleasure that can numb out the pain that’s underlying.

Lois                       

So let’s just dive into that just a little more faith because that is one of the big pieces here. Before we even kind of give you some indicators of who might be addicted, but when you’re avoiding something, this takes the place or you’re self-medicating. Yes.

Faith                   

Right. And so if you’ve had a woman who’s been raped or a man who’s been raped or you’ve been to war and you’ve been on the battlefield, there’s different events in our life, or very angry, violent home that you might’ve been brought up in, but you survive it because you’re very, very smart. So you just go to school and you work hard and you do everything, but you avoid remembering what it was really like in the home. While you can be a success, you might move into an addiction to still numb the pain of that past that you don’t really want to experience. And so it’s a kind of an unwrapping to find out what, what’s been going on in your life that would have caused you to kind of move into finding the need to find immense and intense pleasure. What were you numbing out? It’s just the journey of discovering more about yourself. And here’s another thing too. A lot of people will even become addicted because they want to suppress their anger and repressed anger leads to depression. So you feel depressed and you don’t want to feel depressed, so then you get high on something and then you feel better and then you’re not so depressed. It’s a cycle and it can be so complex. We have to untangle it all to figure out where did this all begin and how does this all get interwoven.

Lois                        

And if we are willing to look at all of these situations, the people in our lives without judgment, it makes it so much easier to understand right these next levels because if we think, oh, these are just an addictive personality, there is no addictive personality. You may be addicted. I’m addicted to gardening on one level, which could take me away from something. Now granted it’s not as severe and I’m not trying to make this all clean. There are different levels we all have and I think sometimes we look at something as an extreme. We think of a homeless person on the street they deserve or whatever we put into our head. But there are all these levels of why someone arrived at where they got to.

Faith                 

Same thing with workaholism. If you can become a workaholic and it’s all good and you can say, well, I’m just, I’m working more than 40 hours, I’m doing 60 to 80 hours a week because I’m providing for my family. And so it can appear to be this really good package, but the one who’s paying the price is the family and so somebody who’s working 60 70 80 hours a week, the good question to say is why am I doing this? Why am I really doing this?

Lois                       

So those are the pieces to unpack. So how do you know if you’re addicted? If you go on just about any website, they’ll give you anywhere from 10 to 20 things and some of these show up in every single list. So we thought we’d highlight a few for you, for you just to kind of look over. Like the first one could be you uncontrollably seek the substance or behavior to which you’re addicted. If you’re doing that, note it.

Faith                 

Absolutely, you’re craving it. And there’s another one. You have a desire to cut down on the use and you find you’re unsuccessful in doing so. So you try to bring down those cigarettes to a half a pack and you find you go back to a full pack. Yeah.

Lois                      

You lose interest in activities that don’t involve that substance or that behavior.

Faith                  

You have relationship difficulties as you lash out at people who identify your addiction.

Lois                       

You can’t stop using the substance or behavior even though it causes you health problems or personal problems, employment problems and relationship problems.

Faith                 

And you hide the substances of your behaviors. How many candy bars or under the bed?

Lois                      

Or what’s in your fridge? You’ll take risks for access to the substance or activity.

Faith                  

And you withdraw from people around you. And that’s a big one. You begin to disengage from relationships because with addictions now come some of these underlying issues of shame, embarrassment, and that’s where the lying comes in. And you hear a lot about people who are working with someone who has an addiction. They lie to me all the time. I never know when they’re telling me the truth. In fact, I assume they’re not. Well, the lying is covering up the shame because it just begins to play off each other.

Lois                       

When you hear this list, if you have two or three symptoms, that usually indicates a very mild condition of addiction, so something to really watch out for. If you have four or five that we just mentioned, a moderate disorder is most likely in place. And six or more and your condition is severe. And we say this just because these are kind of benchmark ones. There are more that have deeper finesse, especially in the area of addiction you might have, but certainly something to consider if you are struggling with something and only you can decide. By the way, it’s really great if you can come up and point this to another person and say, man, you’ve got six of these, but it comes back to – if that person doesn’t see it in themselves, they’re going to withdraw. The minute you’d share that with them that you think they’re addicted.

Faith                  

Isn’t that right? Yeah. You made an enemy and even if they do begin to see some of it, they may have a real hard time staying with what they’re seeing. They may see it in the moment and then avoid it the next day or even within a few hours. So the idea is it takes time. It takes time to continue to have your eyes open to what is really happening.

Lois                       

So right now we are on episode 66 the Impact of addiction and treatment is the next thing we’d like to focus on for a few minutes here. You know, substance use is a treatable condition and complete remission is totally possible.

Faith                 

Yes it is.

Lois                      

We say this as a point of hope for all of you who are wondering what’s next.

Faith                  

It is absolutely possible. Addiction is not something that has to destroy your life permanently, but I’m going to give one little bit of information. When you see someone that you love and they don’t want to get the treatment, just know it takes time. And one of the biggest obstacles they have to overcome is – addiction is a quick fix. It feels good quickly, but treatment is a process and it means you’re going to go into the pain, the very thing that you’ve been avoiding, you’re going to face. And it’s a process and it’s a long process and it’s a dedicated process. So a lot of what a person who is in an addiction has to figure out is, am I willing to take that long journey when over here is a quick fix.

Lois                       

That is such a great description because it’s long term, it’s long, longterm recovery is longterm. It is lifelong. That is the difference. It can happen. It can definitely happen. So and good treatment really focuses on a lot of dimensions. It focuses on your family, it focuses on work skills, mental health, you know there are a number of steps to that that you can discover with detox, with medications, with therapy and counseling and the ongoing care to reduce the risk of relapse. But as you mentioned before, relapse is also part of it.

Faith                  

It can be a part of it. It really is.

Lois                       

And there’s no one size fits all, by the way. No. And that’s why you may try it and then you’re going to try something again and you’re going to try something differently and then you’re going to go to this again and maybe one of these times and you don’t know why, by the way. Something will stick. Absolutely. So the role of a loved one is so important in all of this Faith, and it really does. You need a witness to all of this, don’t you?

Faith                  

Absolutely. Do you need someone who believes in you, someone who sees you, who values you, who treasures you, who loves you and says, I’m not giving up. I believe in you. I see you for who you really are. That can make all the difference in the world. That is willing to go that extra mile, go to the meetings that they go to at times, and if they’re in treatment, go to those family meetings that they have in treatment. That’s where they have the support and the encouragement that makes all the difference.

Lois                       

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, NCADD, has some really good suggestions. First, learn all you can about your loved ones or friends addiction. Speak up and offer your support. What you said earlier is just so hard to do. Faith.

Faith                 

Absolutely, but you have to speak out. You have to have the courage to say, I’m really concerned about you. That works better than going, there’s something wrong with you. Yes, and you need to stop it. That doesn’t work. But if you can go to someone and say, I really love you and I’m concerned about you. This is what I’m seeing. We need to really do something. I’ll walk it with you.

Lois                      

The next thing you can do is exactly what Faith just shared, which is express love and concern and don’t expect the person to stop without help. This buck up mentality works really great if you have a six year old who you’re trying to get to tie their shoes or something like that, but it isn’t. It isn’t for someone who’s in the throes of addiction.

Faith                  

It’s a whole different ballgame entirely and so the more you learn about addictions, the better support you’re going to be.

Lois                       

I love it when they said learn about their addiction. It’s actually so you can be there to support their recovery. You just said this a moment ago, but another way to help your friend or loved one is to establish this trust so that they actually believe that you have their best interest in mind. If you don’t get trust from a person and all you do is come back and say, don’t do this anymore, why would they listen to you?

Faith                  

Why would they, you don’t want to listen to somebody who tells you that. So no, it’s, it’s compassion. Remember always come back to being compassionate and caring and patient.

Lois                       

And maybe you can even say something like, I care about you. I’m worried for your safety and health. And then share an observation that you may have noticed. So it’s not just like what saying something cause you don’t know them. Right?

Faith                  

And one little added piece, it is important to know that you can have a boundary. So have a boundary. That doesn’t mean that just because you’re compassionate and kind and supportive, they can walk all over you. No, you set the boundary in the limit for yourself and for those that are around you to say, no, I’m here for you. But no, you cannot do this in my presence.

Lois                       

To encourage you. There are some of us who have loved ones in our sphere and this may take 10 years. Oh yes. It may take more as you face that – it’s a journey for all of you. And we encourage you to, even if there’s denial going on to remind this person that you care for them and ask permission to keep checking in.

Faith                  

So thank you for joining us as we threw a wide net to hit on a various issues you might have to face as you deal with addiction yourself or with someone you care deeply about.

Lois                       

And if you know someone who’s facing addiction on any level, please feel free to share our podcast and let them know you care about them.

Faith                  

These are complex conditions on the road to recovery is not a simple one, but it is possible.

Lois                       

And we’re here if you want to check in with us on this, are any other of our topics. And join us next week for Transition: The Impact of Spring

Faith                  

Get the latest news on our social media platforms and on our website, and please subscribe.

Lois                       

More to Life with Faith and Lois is a podcast to support, encourage and uplift you.

Faith                  

As you transition through all sorts of change, we want you to know there is more to life.

Lois                       

We’ll be back next week.