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Chemical Dependency


by Linda Hermann

I think my husband is an (alcoholic…addicted to drugs)? How do I know for sure?

At this time, there is no medical test we can give someone to determine if someone is chemically dependent. However, chemical dependency professionals are able to ask the questions that provide answers needed to decide if there is a problem with alcohol or drugs. A very basic question you can ask yourself is "is this person's use of alcohol (drugs) affecting any major life areas (family, school, home life, job, spiritual life, etc.) Negatively? AND in spite of the knowledge of this, do they continue to use?

OK, so it sounds like there is a problem, now what?

It may not make sense to you right now, but get some help for yourself first. There are therapists who specialize in chemical dependency, self-help groups (Al-Anon, church-supported groups, etc.) and books written about chemical dependency. Call your pastor, look online, go to the bookstores…..whatever you are comfortable doing first…….but do not spend another day without educating yourself and getting support for yourself.

My wife has agreed to quit taking her prescription drugs that she admits she is addicted to, how can I support her?

First, consult a doctor. No one should attempt to go off medication "cold turkey". Support her decision by helping her find qualified doctors, therapists, and support for herself. She must make the decision to quit and follow through herself. However, if she allows you to help, connecting her to support systems is one of the ways you can help her disease.

I keep hearing this called "a disease." Isn't that just a nice way of saying someone does not have enough will power to quit?

Chemical dependency fits all the American Medical Associations criteria for a disease: it has a clear biological basis (genetics and neuroadaptation) and it has identifiable signs and symptoms. It is recognized as a disease by many organizations like the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, National Council for Alcohol and Drug Abuse and others. This does not excuse the person from their behavior or the consequences resulting from their use, but it helps clarify that the issue is much more complicted than simple willpower.

 
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