Substance Use Disorder -  The Emotional Side

Many of us have had some sort of addiction touch our lives, whether it was in our own history or the history of a loved one. I recently attended a five day APhA Conference on Substance Use Disorder in Salt Lake City Utah and I learned that none of us are alone in the ways addictions touch our lives but I also learned how little so many of us truly knew about it. At the end of each day we attended an Alcoholics Anonymous or an AA meeting, then Narcotics Anonymous or NA meeting, and finally an Al-Anon meeting. Many of us knew what AA and NA were but very few of us knew that Al-Anon was a support group for people that had loved ones suffering from substance abuse disorders and helped participants navigate through the grief, anger, self-blame, and other complex emotions that accompany having a loved one suffering from addiction. Many stories and tears were shared and connections between participants were strengthened. One of the biggest messages we carried away from our five days was no one is alone in this.

Each day the conference provided additional insights into various emotional aspects of addiction and challenged those of us attending to be more open to the struggles and successes in the lives of addicts. For example, too many people unintentionally become addicted from medications they have been prescribed and by the time they realize it, it’s too late. At that point they experience the fear of the addiction itself, the fear of withdrawal, fear of how people will see them, and fear of how they will be treated when others find out about their addiction. These fears are compounded by pain addicts carry from past and present experiences and the stigma of addiction from the community they live in.

There are many groups available that can help us with the turmoil brought about by addiction. There are even groups for teens who want to talk with other teens. No one is forced to speak at these meetings and listening is more than welcome. Addiction is a disease that can tear through families and friends but we can begin to make the changes needed by talking with each other and educating ourselves about the emotional impacts of substance use disorders. It’s in our hands to take steps to educate ourselves about the emotional aspects of addictions and fortunately there are many resources available to us. Ask your local pharmacist at White’s Pharmacy and Harry Race Pharmacy for a list of these local resources to help you and your loved ones. We are here for you.