by Nick Baez
In a recent interview with Teresa Rodriguez of “Ahora y Aqui” on Univision, boxing legend Oscar de la Hoya revealed the full details of how his life had become unraveled over the past few years, as he became mired in alcohol and drug addiction. During the broadcast, de la Hoya described a life that had come to be defined by alcohol and drug dependency, pain, a broken marriage, suicidal ideation, and many other hardships that ran contrary to the seemingly “perfect” life that most had assumed he lived.
This should come as no surprise for those who are all too familiar with the pervasiveness and complexity of alcohol and drug dependency. Like most other psychological/neuro-biological diseases, they can strike anyone, regardless of ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, or religious affiliation. But alcohol and drug dependency tend to cause just as much of a sense of unmanageability in the addict’s support system as they do in the addict. And it’s not very difficult to understand why.
Within the context of psychotherapeutic treatment, I have witnessed a similar story from many addicts. Most describe plunging into addiction because of a desire to feel “numb” from having to recall and process past trauma. Others describe a desire to feel “in control” over an internal sense of unmanageability and chaos. The irony is that the cycle of addiction almost always results in greater feelings of unmanageability and a deeper reservoir of pain. This is certainly not lost on the addict’s support system, some of whom may feel responsible for the addictive behaviors, and some who may grow tired of the manipulations, lies, and chaos.
As a result, those who have a close friend or relative who is battling alcohol/drug dependency may react to such behaviors by vilifying, ostracizing, or otherwise marginalizing the addict. However, this perpetuates the same cycle of self-loathing, pain, and unmanageability within the addict and strengthens the addiction. Additionally, individuals can react to an addict’s behaviors by falling into the trap of a codependent relationship pattern. This occurs when concern for the addict is overpowered by a need and desire to assume his/her responsibilities and control of the addiction. This pattern is counterproductive to treatment; if the addict never learns to take responsibility for his addiction, then he will continue to feel as if control is an elusive principle.
It is important to note that this article should not be interpreted as clinical advice or used as a diagnostic tool. Rather, it should be used to provide insight for those of you who may be struggling with alcohol/drug dependency, or who may know someone close to you who is experiencing similar struggles. Given the underlying, complex physiological and psychological mechanisms involved in alcohol/drug dependency (and that no two people respond to alcohol/drug abuse in the exact same manner), it is important to seek out the services of a qualified therapist/psychologist who preferably has certifiable experience in addiction.
Additionally, here are some good resources that can be utilized to battle this multifaceted and pervasive disease:
Al-Anon and Alateen (for those with friends/relatives who are addicts)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Treatment Referral Hotline (24-Hours and Free): 1-800-662- HELP
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24-Hours and Free): 1-800-273-TALK
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of
the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.