International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which is celebrated on June 26, directly or indirectly impacts on all of our lives. While statistics indicate that 10% of the population are addicts, the rest of us are also affected in some way, as we all have a family member, friends or colleagues that has been inflicted by addiction at some point in their lives.
Specialist addictions counsellor and professional speaker, Leigh Joy Mansel-Pleydell, herself a recovering addict, has dedicated her life to helping addicts out of the darkness of addiction and into the light of recovery.
We asked Leigh why some people become addicts and other don’t?
According Leigh, research has isolated four causes that might lead to addition:
Firstly, a genetic predisposition; it is said that addiction is a family disease. It is passed down from family member to family member. Some say it is in the blood. The genome has not been mapped, but the thousands of studies undertaken at rehabilitation centres around the world show that if there is a family member with the disease of addiction, there is a likelihood that this will be passed down.
Secondly, untreated and undiagnosed trauma in childhood, teenage years and adulthood can spark for addiction. Trauma might include divorce, the death of friend or family member, loss of lifestyle due to financial pressures, sexual, mental, physical, emotional and spiritual abuse. Drugs are often used to anaesthetise the pain of trauma.
Thirdly, most addicts have a dual-diagnosis or co-morbid disorder. This means that they suffer from an underlying mental illness like anxiety, depression, personality disorders, bi-polar, ADHD, to name a few. It is important to note that not all people with mental health diagnosis are addicts. Once again, addicts seek to anaesthetise the pain of untreated anxiety or depression.
Lastly, disruption in the attachment to both parents and caregivers is a likely cause for addiction, such as divorce, adoption, death of a parent or kids on the other spectrum. The enmeshment of the parent and addict also causes attachment disorders. The addict will not enjoy a secure and close bond with their parent(s).
“I find that denial busting in a compassionate and often gentle, but direct way is the beginning of the healing process for my clients,” explains Leigh. “It’s really never too late to have a happy childhood”.
Leigh stresses that self-care needs to be made a priority and teaching other people how to treat you with dignity and respect is essential.