Grandfather talking to upset son

Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.

Addiction. Does It Wash Out In The Water Or Is It Always In The Blood?

Some claim addiction runs in families the way blonde hair and blue eyes do. Others claim addiction is rooted in trauma. Dr. Gabor Mate says, ‘Not why the addiction, but why the pain?’

We may not all agree on the disease model theory, but we know this; addiction is a chronic, progressive illness that is terminal in nature and affects everyone in the family.

The first time I heard John Mayer’s In The Blood, it took me back to my childhood and the dysfunctional home I grew up in. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the song, I recommend listening to it. The lyrics go like this;

How much of my mother has my mother left in me? How much of my love will be insane to some degree? And what about this feeling that I’m never good enough? Will it wash out in the water, or is it always in the blood? How much of my father am I destined to become? Will I dim the lights inside me just to satisfy someone?

I relate deeply to this song. Coming from an alcoholic family and witnessing first-hand the chaos and heartbreak, I watched the light fade from my mother’s eyes as she stood by my alcoholic father. As a child, I would lie in bed plugging my ears, to block out my parents’ violent arguments. I learned love hurts. Love meant having no boundaries or separate sense of self. Love meant accommodating manipulative and abusive behavior.

My relationships going forward were a power struggle. I never felt good enough. I looked to others to validate me but didn’t respect them when they did. Then I found drugs/alcohol and fell in love.

To say it went badly is an understatement. Children are a product of their environment. They take what they learn in their growing up homes, into their adult lives and re-enact everything they were trying to escape.

Was I doomed?

Would my kids pass addiction on to their kids?

Treatment has changed much over the years. We used to think people had to hit rock bottom and want to go to rehab. Today, we know that’s not true. But in spite of scientific evidence, these two myths continue to rob many of the treatment experience and even, life.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine says addiction is a disease. Like any other disease, it is most successfully treated when caught in the early stage. We don’t wait until a cancer patient reaches stage four, to start chemotherapy. We don’t wait until a diabetic is in a coma, to give them insulin. We shouldn’t wait until an addicted person has lost everything, to suggest treatment. By then they are so sick – cognitively, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually – the damage is extreme. They become apathetic and don’t care if they get well. When you’ve lost everything, you don’t spontaneously see the light. You reach for more drugs to block out the pain.

Addiction changes the chemical compound of the brain, resulting in poor impulse control and impaired reasoning. Some addicts claim they are more fearful of withdrawal than they are of dying.

No other disease is a powerful nor as destructive. Substance Use Disorder takes down families, the workplace, first-responders, and caregivers. Doctors don’t understand it. Psychiatrists misdiagnose it. Society stigmatizes it. And only one in ten will receive treatment for it.

Statistics claim no particular gene has been identified as the “addiction gene.” Yet individuals who suffer from addiction tend to have children who also suffer from addiction. Twenty-five percent higher on average than children of non-addict parents. No single factor can predict whether a person will become a substance abuser. A combination of genetic, environmental and developmental factors influences risk for substance use disorder.

Addiction thrives in secrecy and isolation. For recovery to occur you must reach out. Connection is key to arresting this illness. Treatment is the first step in the right direction. Treatment teaches you how to identify unhealthy behavior patterns, negative and dishonest thinking, relapse triggers and warnings and how to self-regulate. Not only does treatment give you your life back, it gives you the tools to succeed going forward.

Substance abusers are highly intelligent and lead very successful lives in recovery. The hard part is getting them there. Addicted persons don’t make rational decisions and continue to use in spite of the alarming death toll. Their families can’t always force them into treatment. Families are encouraged to practice self-care. Without support, families can become every bit as sick as their addicted loved one.

John Mayer asks a good question. Will it wash out in the water, or is it always in the blood?

While addiction might not wash out in the water, there is much you can do to promote health and wellness for yourself and your family. Start by reaching out. Be open to new ideas. Ask questions. Learn everything you can about this illness. Vertava Health has a team of professionals who will take your call 24/7. They will answer your questions and provide support and direction. With the right help, you can break the chains of addiction and live a long, happy life.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. (615) 208-2941.

Call Vertava Health now!