Telltale signs present
in early Tina use
we care about is a problem Tina user
for talking with someone about their problem use
Understanding Tina dependence
Be Aware Of Our Own Judgments
Drug use is a continuum from non-use, use and abuse through
to dependence or addiction. We tend to have different judgements
about drug use. We establish different boundaries about what
we use or not use and to what extent, and these change throughout
our lives. This is true for those we care about as well. When
thinking about someone we care about who is using Tina or
may even be addicted to it, we may find ourselves full of
judgements about that person or the drug. In addition to what
we think about it, we may also have strong feelings as well.
Being able to identify what we think and feel about our partner,
friend or family member’s use is an important first
step for us and for our ability to help them.
Tina use, abuse, and dependence can seem hard to explain,
frustrating, and contrary to all logic, especially when it's
someone close to us with the problem. How long do we watch
the harm being done before we step in? How can we help when
we don't even understand what's going on?
Full-blown dependence is a chronic condition and like others,
can be more easily and successfully treated when recognized
early. Although individuals do have to make the decision to
change their use or quit for themselves, that doesn't mean
we can't do anything to move the process along. Myths like,
‘You can't do anything unless they want to stop,’
or ‘Addicts have to hit bottom before they want help’
are well known, but not true. Lovers, friends and family members
can and do play a major role in motivating people they care
about to seek help.
When you're ready to help, you may be confused by the numerous
and often conflicting advice that's out there. Let him hit
bottom or get involved now? Tough love or unconditional love?
A surprise intervention in the living room with all his friends
or a gentle one-to-one over coffee? Which strategy is the
right one? Everyone has different needs, communication styles,
reasons for using, and readiness to reduce use or quit altogether.
You already know a lot about your lover, friend or family
member’s personality and may be able to choose the helping
strategy that's most likely to work. In addition, you need
to understand a few basics about dependence if we are going
to be helpful.
Understanding the Basics
First, no one ever thinks they will become dependent. Most
guys believe they can control their use. Some can. Many cannot.
The crossover line between casual party use and dependence
is sneaky and hard to predict. As you can learn elsewhere
on this site, Tina is particularly seductive in this respect.
Most guys who use stumble over the line unexpectedly and without
even knowing it. The further one goes across the line, the
harder it is to cross back. Our society values will power
and self-reliance, and people generally think they can control
their behaviors and manage the consequences. Try not to blame
the one you care about for losing control.
Second, Tina causes immediate and profound changes in brain
chemistry which result in powerful pleasure cravings and mood
swings. At the same time, the brain may start losing its ability
to process information and make decisions effectively. A brain
used to Tina gets rewired to choose big doses of pleasure
(or relief from pain) from the drug at the expense of other
options. This may explain why the one you care about keeps
getting high or engaging in risky behaviors even after he
repeatedly swears he won't. Until he stops using and stays
clean long enough for the brain to recover at least in part,
his thoughts, actions and decisions may seem irrational and,
quite frankly, just plain stupid to you.
Dependence is both biology and psychology. While the cycle
of withdrawal-craving-reward is certainly driven by changes
in brain chemistry, it’s also shaped by deep and often
difficult emotions. We often call these our ‘issues,’
and they can include anything from poor self-image to internalized
homophobia and racism to serious depression or anxiety disorders.
Don't assume he can just stop using and ‘snap out’
of his problems with the right prescription or a few therapy
Finally, the term ‘addict’ is largely negative
in our society. While 12-step philosophy insists that publicly
declaring oneself to be an addict is a critical and even liberating
step towards recovery, most people associate the term with
failure, shame, criminal activity, and irresponsible self-neglect.
It's difficult to take on a label like that. So don't insist
that your lover, friend or family member does. To start, it's
enough for him to simply acknowledge a problem. What you call
that problem – problem use, addiction, dependency, a
tough time -- is less important than how you talk about it.
It may also be helpful to refer to our companion article,
'Signs of Dependence',
written from the perspective of the user.
Adapted from KnowCrystal.org with permission