A person phoned a few days ago asking about how to get clean of narcotics (Pain meds in their vernacular.) The symptoms they cited were exact for narcotic withdrawal. (Cramps, tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, agitation…) In the discussion we touched on treatment options.
Yes! They’d tried numerous times to quit of course, but can’t. This person actually said “I know I need help.”
My initial reaction was as you’d expect: Wow! This is huge. But wait, there’s more…
So after making inquiries I phoned back next day with a number to call. They promised to phone the number and seemed really ready to call.
However, to my knowledge there has been no call … I checked.
I heard subsequently from another that they had asked for advice which the other had given as “taper off.” (I know, duh.) To avoid accepting help, you know? But there is a problem.
Taper off? Not a bad suggestion, unless you’re an actual addict. Tapering doesn’t work — for medical as well as psychological reasons. A the very least it’s dangerous.
Fast forward. A hammering phone call from the addict about matters pertaining to problems with the current events. (Eh? I thought we were talking about detox?) I followed along because it was evident the addict was sober for the moment … what’s happening, I wondered?
A room-mate was part of the conversation — initially in the background coaching the dialogue. Presently I had a direct conversation with this ‘coach’ and having cornered them into rejecting further discussion, found myself back on the phone with the self-confessed addict.
The ensuing two hours conversation on the phone were more or less coherent moment to moment, but incoherent thematically. Accusations, resentments, subject changes, objectives forgotten, restarted, restated, argumentative denials – and at least two hang ups. Some threats. The topics were anchored in the mix of BS this person ingests … which in no small part is a result (I sense) of the roomie’s influence.
Nothing new, really. This is typical of so many situations. Madness.
Anyway, I was able (after call backs) to have the discussion end less acrimoniously. All the while I was recognizing that this kind of dialog is typical of what some of us know as “Detox Personality Disorder.” If a person continues to use and then detox, DPD will just re-emerge. It doesn’t get better, it only worsens.
A reason I’m writing about this to the blog is – if someone is self-detoxing like this – expect such issues to become more acute. We think that sometimes it’s “just helpful to listen.” But even that can be enabling. I’m not saying lie and agree with the bile, but avoid enabling. If the person is really trying to detox, the emotional and psychological stuff – toxic accusations – will circulate in every direction.
Explaining, Blaming and Complaining – Neon Signs of Denial.
The best advice is try not to confront or argue. Dodge / Change the subject? Bopping across ‘harmless’ lines will sometime tire the crazy person to the point they end the call. Or: Make excuses and just leave the call. Do not: Pursue them in some lame attempt to help ‘fix them’. This can lead to really irrational behaviors (not the least of which is self-harm as a means of hurting you.)
DPD (a term we use at LGLG) is a boarder-line irrational state. These people are really vulnerable to suggestions and blow everything out of proportion. Good advice is assailed. Bad advice (keep doing what you’re doing) can be a death sentence.
The only thing crazier than being irrational? Is a rational person forcefully reasoning with a crazy person.
Our objective should be 1.) To not succumb to becoming disturbed ourselves. And 2.) To not disturb the disturbed more than when we arrived in the discussion.
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” Gal. 6:1
First: “Do no harm.” By the way, that word “caught” is not “You’re Busted” inferring sudden unwanted discovery. Think ensnared. Hopelessly entangled.
So this goes both ways: Don’t agree with insanity by pouring fuel on the fire, and don’t disagree, which can lead to passive aggressive histrionics like self-harm.
The hard part is to not take the toxic call personally. Remember it’s not a ‘real’ person on the other end, man. Grasp that, and you’re fine. Their pain, agony and confusion is real, though. And until they seek actual, competent help, it’s going to continue.
Competent help? Not available in the circles they normally have access to… Like their Doctors. Who are, essentially at fault (having written all those prescriptions.) And so their Professional motive is butt-covering — to cover their culpability / liability. You can be CERTAIN of that much.
The best groups to assist will have in-patient medically assisted detox with Psychiatric supervision. An in-patient stay of 45 days? A nice number for a fresh start.
If we don’t help folks get help? We know where addiction ends up. Meanwhile and perhaps first and foremost:
And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:15-16