Why Do People Choose Drugs and Alcohol Over Family

January 21st, 2021

When it comes to addiction, we are always reminded that this is a disease. It is also a disease that effects not only the person battling the addiction, but those around them – often times their friends and family. When it appears that people choose drugs and alcohol over family, doubt reverberates through the deepest truths of human bonds. We become so focused on how someone could choose drugs and alcohol over family that we miss the bigger question: Why is someone in a position to choose drugs and alcohol over family in the first place? Often, people are issued an ultimatum something to the effect of: “It’s us, or the addiction.” Those who have ever given an ultimatum likely believe, or were told, that it was simply the only choice. However, in reality ultimatums, especially in the context of addiction interventions, can be intensely traumatic and damaging to relationships.

At the end of the day, we are ultimately succumbing to the false reality that there exists a choice for the addict. Although understandable, the question misinterprets the nature of addiction. Their behavior is reflexive and automatic, based on a physical and psychological need for a substance – whether drugs or alcohol or something entirely different. Drugs flood the brain with dopamine, training the brain to rely on the relief they provide and to assign greater value to drugs than other things needed for happiness and survival. Over time, addiction changes the chemistry and function of the brain, robbing the user of control and thus taking away the possibility of choice.

Ultimately, the only choice for an addict is to continue to use. Even as their lives are caving in around them, they continue to believe they’re in control and that they don’t have a problem. People don’t choose drugs and alcohol over family. People choose to use drugs and alcohol, loved ones choose to cut ties over drug and alcohol use.

Many times, we need to understand as the loved ones of someone struggling with addiction that they are not trying to hurt us by choosing the addiction – they are trying to fill a need that we simply cannot at this point in time. What the individual needs is professional help in order to get clean and begin getting their life back on track – and it is important to try and get them to see this and be willing to help them before they potentially alienate everyone around them through their substance abuse. Simply lecturing, blaming and offering ultimatums will not help the individual get sober. Sometimes, an intervention is necessary, but other times simply offering up your support through attending Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings with the individual can be helpful. It is also helpful to do the research with them or beforehand regarding rehabs, as it likely will be needed and is often better to have a few choices already narrowed down in order to shorten the process.

Addiction is not addiction if choice is involved. They may have made choices in the beginning, but it is likely at this point that the person is too deep down a path to make honest decisions for themselves anymore – the addiction has taken over. These individuals aren’t choosing drugs, alcohol, or other addictions over friends and family – the addiction is making the choice for them. By helping your loved one find sobriety, they will hopefully be in a place where they will choose those relationships over any kind of substance ever again.

If you or a loved one are in need of support, reach out to our team at Windmill Wellness Ranch today. We are here to help provide you with the information and support that you need to find the path to recovery and start living your best life.