As we look around us, across our circles of friends, it may strike us that substance abuse is so common. We were almost naively hoping that our friend, who owns a restaurant, enjoys drinking alcohol; but as time goes on, it is too obvious that the clinical addiction to alcohol is making his life hell, and frequently embarrassing his family members who also work at the restaurant. We cringe so badly, when he is drunk and groping a woman indecently again, in front of his own teenage daughter. Likewise, we were hoping that our friend was playing computer games as a nice hobby, but, day after day, the shocking amounts of time spent gaming instead of working in a job indicates clinical addiction to the computer game, beyond reasonable doubt.
Oh, what a tragedy. For the addicted person, he or she is – more often than not, in denial. Friends around them find it astounding that they do not even identify addiction as a basic problem. It is ever so obvious to people around them that drunken misbehaviour often causes extraordinary problems, nearly warranting police attention, and that it is unrealistic to spend five to six waking hours of the day gaming instead of working, that is not even to mention the sleepless nights gaming away.
Friends who feel saddened by the addicted friend’s predicament start doing research about addiction, and quickly become very much more knowledgeable about the twelve steps to recovery, than even the addicted person himself or herself.
No matter how much surrounding friends care about the addicted person in anguish, it is the addicted person himself or herself who must take the first step upon professional treatment in order to make any progress towards recovery. It is fundamentally important for the addicted person to turn from denial, accept the addiction and move forward with the programme of treatment.
Encouraging a loved one to sign up to rehabilitation for alcohol abuse or computer gaming addiction may be much more difficult than you think it is, when that person is not willing to accept that the addiction is ruining their lives. If so many different people from different contexts- extended family members, colleagues, casual acquaintances, nasty neighbours, friends of friends from birthday parties all say the same thing about the addiction that they observe, and people remark upon the particular signs of addiction that they often see in the same person, perhaps the addicted person will finally start treatment one day, knowing that the collective opinion of so many people on that addiction can’t be so wrong. ‘How come everybody is saying that I am clinically addicted to alcohol? Maybe I actually am addicted to alcohol.’
It can be tricky to know how to persuade a family member or beloved friend go into the treatment facility to pursue rehabilitation. One may hope that talking to the addicted person clearly, face-to-face, with compassion, kindness and genuine concern, repeatedly, may one day result in successful recovery, even though completion of rehabilitation may be two long years ahead in the future.