It’s difficult to understand the mind of an addict. Why does he, or she, behave in the way he does? Why does he insist on continuing to indulge in behavior that so obviously is harmful to him? What’s the big deal about getting high? Why is the alcoholic or addict so angry? So manipulative? Why does he tell lies?

So many questions. So few answers.

We try and tell you what goes on the addict’s mind:

“I don’t want you to think I’m a loser” 

Alcoholics and addicts experience huge losses while indulging in addiction. They lose jobs, health, time, opportunities, friends, money, education, etc. This leads to low self-esteem. People with low self-esteem try and project an opposite image – of a successful, functional person. They don’t want you to think they’re losers, even though they may have undergone significant losses.

“I can’t help myself” 

However much an addict may project that he is in control, he is actually helpless. The power of addiction is so strong that it overwhelms him – any decision to control or stop is overtaken by the craving. Actually, he needs help but doesn’t want to admit that he’s powerless.

“I don’t want to hurt you” 

Alcoholics don’t want to hurt anyone. All they want is to get their booze or drugs. Their cares and worries begin and end with themselves. However, family and well-wishers try and convince or stop them and they react. They don’t want anything to come between themselves and their substances. If they do, they are likely to get hurt.

“I’m not angry; I’m scared” 

Family and friends of alcoholics and addicts are the target of repeated anger outbursts. Actually, the real trigger is fear which is transforming into anger. Addicts live in huge fears – fear of not getting their drugs, fear of being found out, fear of facing reality, fear of the future…the list goes on. So fear is the trigger and anger is the expression.

“No one understands me” 

So true. How can family members who are not alcoholics or addicts really understand the person who is into addiction? The alcoholic is actually very lonely. That’s why fellowships like Alcoholics Anonymous work so well – members can identify and share with each other without fear of being judged. Same thing happens within an alcohol or drug rehab – the inmates are able to relate with each other and start to feel comfortable in sharing their thoughts and feelings.

An addict’s mind is alien territory. Leave it to a professional to reach out.