Victims of Addiction Include More than Just the UserWe’ve all heard it and those in recovery have also said it. “It’s my body. I can do what I want with it. I’m not hurting anyone but myself.”
At first go, one may take a pause – maybe to wish that were true, or to just drop the subject until later. And if the statement’s author is under the influence at the time he says it, it’s better to not engage in any debate -no one can argue successfully with someone whose vision is skewed by intoxication.
But the real truth is that the victim list for those enmeshed in their addiction is like a widening circle that encompasses not only the addict, but those closest to him, those who have to interact with him (bosses or acquaintances, for example), those who are in the addict’s care (children who do or don‘t necessarily live with the addict, pets), and those in society with whom the addict (or alcoholic) must interact, such as police, physicians, caregivers and even other drivers! Victim may be a strong word in some cases, but the disease of addiction causes far-reaching consequences that most often affect others in differing ways. Remember, once an addict gets his stuff, he fills his need and tunes out all stress until it’s time to find the next dose. He has little choice.The substance he is addicted to is the addict’s all. Nothing else will ever be more important until he takes the steps to free himself. Even that often takes some push or circumstance to fuel even an attempt towards treatment. If there were no hurdles or pain, an addict would stay high until death. Mice do it lab settings. That’s just the way it is, as the addict has lost control long ago.When an alcoholic needs to get more booze, he doesn’t care, or more aptly, is probably in denial, over how high he really is. That addiction propels him to get behind the wheel and drive – with the obvious dangers that choice brings. He has lost the objectivity to gauge his level of intoxication. Tell someone whose child has just been killed in a car accident that it’s just Johnny’s addiction making him get behind the wheel. There probably won’t be much sympathy… Then there’s the bail money to get your loved one out of jail. Let’s hope he hasn’t assaulted the arresting officer in a drug or alcohol fueled blackout, since that’s going to cost extra bail. How about the lawyer’s fees… who pays? You, or the addict? Sometimes it’s everybody, since public defenders are paid by public revenue. If an addict has a psychotic break, there may be terrifying repercussions. Horrible crimes have been committed by meth addicts, robo-trippers, bath salt users and others. If there were a miracle cure for addiction, the nation’s prison population would probably plummet. How many addicts and alcoholics are in prison or jail due to some consequence of their using? Don’t we all pay in some ways for their care? What if they bring home from the experience new ways to dodge the law and other consequences – perhaps some new criminal skills?Then, let’s consider some emotional consequences. Family members are always the most noticed of victims. Children raised by addicts (alcoholics, too) suffer lifelong repercussions. Not only are they environmentally set up to perpetuate the cycle, they deal with fear and lack of nurturing on a daily basis. This hugely affects their self-esteem and often they grow up to be victims, abusers, or substance abusers themselves. It often takes artificial courage, or artificially fueled ideas, to commit a crime in the first place! Worse, impaired thinkers sometimes engage their children to commit crimes. High priced addictions like opiates and cocaine often lead users to commit crimes to maintain the habit. Youngsters may be forced to steal to help parents or sometimes to have necessities the parents don’t provide.Sometimes these children are victimized by the addicted parents. Abuse and violence occurs more often in the households of addicts. Even when the violence doesn’t come directly from parents, it may still be devastating. Maybe a heroin addicted mother turns to prostitution to support her habit, exposing her children to unsavory types who engage in these activities. The child could be victimized behind the mother’s back, or in some cases, even trafficked by the parent! Children in these situations may run away, leaving them extra vulnerable to traffickers and criminal types. Prostitutes make good targets for serial killers, because they are often unaccounted for by family, are easy to lure, and are extra vulnerable emotionally. There may be drug dealing from the household or worse, a meth lab, both toxic and dangerous.
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