Apr 6
  • Written By Scott Drochelman

  • 4 Things Families Should Understand About Addiction

    4 Things Families Should Understand About Addiction

    4 Things Families Should Understand About Addiction

    In this Q and A episode Ashley talks about 4 important things that every family should know about addiction. Learn about the 4 C’s of addiction, how they might change shape based on the personality of your loved one and next steps when you think there might be a problem.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame has been clean and sober for 17 years, she’s a drug and alcohol counselor, interventionist, and the co-founder of a telehealth company called Lionrock Recovery that provides substance use disorder treatment.

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    Episode Transcript

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:13):

    You are listening to the Courage to Change a Recovery Podcast. We are a community of recovering people who have overcome the odds and found the courage to change. Each week, we share stories of recovery from substance abuse, eating disorders, grief and loss, childhood trauma, and other life-changing experiences. Come join us no matter where you are on your recovery journey.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (00:42):

    Hello, beautiful people. Welcome to the Courage to Change a Recovery podcast. My name is Ashley Lowe, blasting Game, and I am your host. Today I am here with my producer, Scott Druckman.

    Scott Drochelman (00:56):

    So you’re their host. Can I be their ghost?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:00):

    Yes. You. Oh, I love that.

    Scott Drochelman (01:03):

    I haunt them.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:04):

    Oh, I am your host. I am here with my ghost,

    Scott Drochelman (01:07):

    Ghost, Scott Brockleman.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:09):

    Scott Brockleman, or as Siri calls

    Scott Drochelman (01:11):

    You. I haven’t done noise in the closet.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:14):

    You’re in the closet. I gotta tell Cassie.

    Scott Drochelman (01:17):

    Well, I guess SNS as good a time as it her. Is

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:19):

    That Yeah, exactly.

    Scott Drochelman (01:21):

    I haven’t told anybody, but I think a podcast, it’s <laugh>. It’s probably the flat way to start.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:26):

    Yeah, yeah, for sure. For sure. That’s definitely the way to start.

    Scott Drochelman (01:29):

    We’ve got a, a, a little q and a question for you. You ready for it? Four things family should understand about addiction.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:38):

    There are lots of things to understand. I ha I can’t help myself. Disclaimer, these are four components to understanding what addiction is, what that actually means.

    Scott Drochelman (01:49):

    No, what I’m hearing is that there are only four things that they need to know. Yeah. <laugh>. And after they get these four, you’re stress, Amir.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:54):

    Oh

    Scott Drochelman (01:55):

    My God. After these four, they’re good, right?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (01:57):

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. No. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. We have a term for it in the fields, but I’m gonna, I’m gonna layman on ya. <laugh>. I’m gonna <laugh> I’m gonna layman. Okay.

    Scott Drochelman (02:07):

    I’ve never heard it, uh, as a verb. I’m

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (02:10):

    A Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, <laugh>, you know me. The four things that are really four components are compulsion, cravings, consequences, and control. As you can imagine, the four Cs. So we’ll start with number one, compulsion. In preparing for this episode. I loved someone’s description of, so there’s impulsive and there’s compulsive and impulsive Is this like, it just comes to you and you do. That’s me. <laugh>. Hi, I’m your host and your ghost. Uh, I’m sure your impulsive things are much more normal than mine. One time I impulsively went to the mall. This was when they had pet stores, and I impulsively decided to a dog that matched the dog I had at home, <laugh>. And when I say matched, I mean I had a Rottweiler home and I bought a min pin for a thousand dollars. What’s a pin? A mini, oh, sorry. Min, min pin pincher.

    (03:13):

    In my defense, I had just found out that my ex-boyfriend had been sleeping with one of my closest friends at the time. For the majority of our relationship, I had just gotten this information. I go to the mall, I impulsively decide to purchase, I don’t even remember its name, said miniature pincher. I tried to sell it back. I tried to give it back. <laugh>. Um, it was a mess. Anyway, the dog got rehomed successfully. That was not a compulsive decision, a decision that I, that comes into my head out of nowhere, over and over and over and over. So impulsive, you ha it’s like, where did this come from? It, it doesn’t really fit the situation. It just p pops in your head. Compulsive is same, same thing, but it’s over and over and over and over again. Triggered by certain, you know, has particular triggers, and it happens regularly all the time. Someone with addiction is overpowered by the urge to find and use drugs. This type of behavior is described as compulsive drug or alcohol seeking. Can

    Scott Drochelman (04:17):

    You tell us a representation of like what one of those compulsive thoughts sounded like

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (04:23):

    For substance use addiction, it’s often cloaked in reasoning when it’s drinking. It’s like, I just has to have a little bit more. I’m just gonna have a little bit more of this. I’ll just do it this one time and then I’ll put it back. My thing was I put my alcohol in the closet, so I would have the bottle of w wine in the closet and drink it, and then I’d leave it in the, the closet would leave and thinking that was gonna stop me from drinking. And then I’d just go back to the closet. Every single time I would go back to the closet. It was, oh, just one more

    Scott Drochelman (04:55):

    Ballpark like icon. On average day, how many times do you hear the voice now? Or it may be in the worst of it. Yeah,

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (05:02):

    It’s k f fuck radio. It is on morning till night. And, uh, overnight too, nights and weekends. It’s constant for me, when I’m in it, unless I am intoxicated to the point where I can’t function, then it is happening. So, for example, what that would look like is brief moment of relief when I drink or use, when you get peak high, whatever that, or drunk, whatever that looks like for you. But seconds later, it’s how much is left? How am I gonna get the next amount? You’re already thinking about the necessity of the next compulsion that you know is coming. And so you can’t even enjoy the one that you have. The process, basically the experience that you’re having in that moment, because you already understand your brain pattern recognition knows there’s gonna be another one. So you’re worried about that. And the one after that, and the one after that, at that point, it all ability to become the medicine, become the anesthetic, become the coping skill that it started out as.

    Scott Drochelman (06:05):

    Okay. What about the second thing? What’s the second

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (06:08):

    Thing? Cravings. Drug cravings mimic physical needs like hunger or thirst addiction attacks and gets a hold of the part of your brain that controls your autonomic functions like hunger and thirst and breathing, which you do automatically. Things that you do not auto, things you do not need to consciously think about. And that is the part of your brain that gets hijacked to an addicted brain. The drugs and alcohol are as vital as food and water. They are so intense. You are truly unable to think about anything else until that drug or alcohol craving is satisfied. Which also means that if you are at the point where you no longer get satisfied, which bad news people, it gets there. You are still only thinking about that it is hell on earth. What

    Scott Drochelman (07:03):

    About, what’s the third thing that families should know?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (07:06):

    Consequences. So consequences are an indicator of what’s going on. And consequences are also on a spectrum. People like to think that since they’ve never had a d u I, they’ve never lost a job. They still have their spouse and a house that it’s not a problem. But consequences can be emotional. Consequences can be, you miss the mark on your own personal goals. You’re not living to your full potential, which is a consequence of your drinking. As the disease progresses, the consequences tend to get worse. But for some people, I know people who have so much money that the consequences for them just didn’t look the way they did for other people. They never had to do anything. Freaky deaky for drugs and alcohol, <laugh>, they never, never, you know, they, they never had to go into terrible pla like they never got into legal trouble.

    (08:04):

    Like it was, they had this enormous buffer. And so their consequences are going to be much more internal. Those are still consequences. But how, you know, someone has a problem is when they use, in spite of those consequences, it refers to when someone continues to use drugs and alcohol, despite an awareness of the negative consequences it will bring. If you’re allergic to strawberries and you regularly eat strawberries, knowing you are going into anaphylactic shock and you are gonna end up in the hospital, that’s not normal. Most of the time, people, when they know they’re allergic to strawberries, they stop eating them because the consequences are really bad. Now, there are some people, which I used to be in this category, who, you know, dairy doesn’t make them feel good. Maybe they, maybe it gives you the runs, you’re a little bloated <laugh>, but whatever it is that you’re eating, it’s worth the struggle.

    (08:58):

    And you’re like, fuck it. I’m, I’m getting in this, I’m, I diarrhea be damned. In fact, I was feeling a little backed up, right? <laugh>. So you make, you make excuses to, you understand that there are consequences, you opt into those consequences. But if you do it every day, all day long, typically the consequences get a lot worse. And that is more of a problem than the people who say, you know what, I’m gonna party on this holiday and the consequence is gonna be a bad hangover tomorrow. But I don’t have anything going on and I’m willing to suffer that. And it’s not a huge deal in the grand scheme of my life. There are always consequences, but it’s this constant compulsive use in the face of continued consequences.

    Scott Drochelman (09:43):

    And I understand that because the strawberries are very good. Have you ever had like a peak summer strawberry?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (09:49):

    Oh, oh yes, I have. They’re not summer

    Scott Drochelman (09:52):

    Out at here.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (09:52):

    It’s in the spring. I know, because I, is that right? Yes. I go with the kids and we go to this fucking farm where they have the most amazing straw strawberries. Why? Why are you disparaging in it? You’ll, you’ll, you’ll understand a second. We go to this fucking farm where they have the most amazing strawberries that you get to pick yourself and you pay $20 for one of those fucking clams, clamshells, <laugh>, and with your kids, and you ride out in there and they let you out. And you, you can only take as many. First of all, you can only take as many as you can. You can buy the clam shells and you can only take as many as you can fit in the clam shells and in the period of time they give you. So I’m like, kids, you fucking eat ’em, eat ’em, eat ’em.

    (10:34):

    The kids and I are straight up like, like in one in the mouth, one in the clamshell, one in the mouth, two, you know, two in the mouth, one in the clamshell. We are, I’m full. Like I ate a full meal by the time we get back in that wagon and I’m looking at the kids like, hello, hello. You know, let’s get the show on the road. And those things are so good and you end up spending like a hundred dollars or some ridiculous amount of money so that you can have this experience <laugh>, when you could have gone into their farmer’s market and just bought like a $10 clamp shell or whatever the fuck it is. Oh God. And I have to explain to my husband that the photos are very cute <laugh> and they’re not gonna be little forever <laugh>. And it’s about the experience. And it doesn’t matter that I look like a complete and utter gargoyle, <laugh> eating the fucking strawberries as fast as I can in the rose, but I don’t care.

    Scott Drochelman (11:33):

    Let me just also say that one in the mouth. One the clamshell is the name of my sex tape <laugh>.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (11:38):

    Oh my God, I’m so jealous. I’m so jealous that I didn’t come up with that <laugh>. Wow. Wow. <laugh>. Oh, that’s

    Scott Drochelman (11:49):

    So good, man. That sounds glorious. But I think we’re painting a good picture because yeah, if, if the drugs not bar anything like these delicious, delicious strawberries,

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (11:58):

    <laugh>, I mean, that is how my brain works. If one is good, all the strawberries are better. One is good, 10 is better. Period. End of story. That’s how I got into that weird situation when I, when I, the chocolate bar that was xla and I had 17 doses of xla <laugh>, it, it felt, it’s just like, if one is good, 17 is better.

    Scott Drochelman (12:17):

    That’s how you get the quick release. The

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (12:19):

    I’m about the quick release. I think I’ve made that clear. <laugh>, let’s get the show in the rope. All right. Wow. So if there’s a way to make it dysfunctional, call me.

    Scott Drochelman (12:29):

    All right, so number four, what’s the fourth thing that families should know about addiction?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (12:34):

    Number four. So number four is control. Control is a tricky one in the sense that theoretically when we, as you know, clinicians look at the characteristics of, of loss, of control over drug or alcohol using habits, you know, we’re, we tend to look at complete loss of control. That tends to be what we see. However, this is also on a spectrum, and it’s because addiction is progressive. Some people, they progress real fast, they lose control very, very quickly. And when it comes to that drugs or alcohol substances, they just don’t have control at all. There are some people who have control in until they don’t. Right? So, you know, the person who’s, who’s very controlled about when they drink, but when they drink, it’s one tequila, two tequila, three tequila floor, right? I have seen an, the reason I’m hesitating in kind of dancing around my words here is because I have seen a lot of people who mimic control in order to justify it, they set up their whole life so that it looks controlled.

    (13:42):

    They have a job that requires them to drink the way they do it looks like control because they’re controlling everything around it to match the intensity of the drinking, not because they actually can control the drinking. If you reversed their life and put them in a different circumstance, they could not control the drinking or the usage. There’s a saying that says, you know, most people change their actions to meet their goals. We change our goals to meet our actions, so we change our surroundings to match this slot of control. So the loss of control is really important because it is a key characteristic of addiction when we try to control this thing. Do you remember those? I don’t know what they were called. They look like slugs. Okay, so walk with me. Okay? They’re plastic, they’re probably made in China. Not that that’s relevant, but slinky, close, close, close, close. <laugh>. This is Pictionary people. This is Pictionary.

    Scott Drochelman (14:38):

    Okay, great, great,

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (14:38):

    Great, great. It’s filled with, I’m sure a toxic liquid chemical that typically had some sort of luminescent or sparkles. And in you could put your fingers in the middle. Ah, and if you squeezed it, it would like, you know? Yes. It’s kinda like when I, when I put on spanks that are too tight <laugh>, and I pull ’em all the way up to my boobs, but like there’s still fat coming out the top and it’s like, okay, yes, you have a flat stomach that, but that’s because your stomach is now in between your breasts <laugh>. And so it’s kinda, it’s kinda like that where, where you squeeze and then it pops out in a different direction, right? <laugh>, so, so that visual really took you down. It’s

    Scott Drochelman (15:23):

    Just, it’s just as, it’s just as sparkly too. That’s the craziest part.

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (15:27):

    Oh, a hundred percent. A hundred percent. Just sparkly. Especially in my twenties when I was just like, dousing glitter making any man cheating on his wife or girlfriend immediately culpable. Not that that happened, but if it did, I didn’t know what <laugh> the person listening to this for serious. Yeah, they,

    Scott Drochelman (15:49):

    They’re like, my kids is dying, talking about, good

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (15:52):

    God guys, just hold on. We’re we’re getting there. So with that queezy thing, you squeeze it, you try to cont squeeze is control in this metaphor. You squeeze it, it comes out the other directions. That is typically the story for what it looks like when someone is trying to control it, control addiction. The harder you squeeze, the more it’s between your boobs, <laugh>, metaphorically, it comes out, you squeeze, you’re like, I’m gonna control this. I, you, you make a plan. You’re like, I’m gonna wait until five o’clock. I am not gonna drink. It’s not five o’clock somewhere. It’s only I am sticking to this time zone only five o’clock Pacific standard period. And then you get to five o’clock Pacific, right? You get 4 59, you are like holding onto the floor and hits five o’clock. Well, you waited till five. You are now going nuts.

    (16:47):

    You are now drinking more than you would’ve been. In fact, what you probably don’t realize is that by holding off the anxiety that you have been treating, you’ve been staving off an anxiety and or cravings or whatever it is. And so by waiting till till five, you now have three times the amount of anxiety, three times the amount of withdrawal, what symptoms, whatever it is. And so you have to match your intake with that. Some version of that is typically what happens when people try to control it. And I’ll share this, that I never tried to control it until I was challenged. I did not know I had a problem until I tried to control this problem. And I only tried to control it because someone told me I couldn’t. And I really believed that I could.

    Scott Drochelman (17:37):

    If you’re a family member and you can’t quite figure out what’s going on behind the curtain, or they are doing a great job with the spanks, you know, in their life, yeah, then they’re mm-hmm <affirmative>, they’re compressing it all. And maybe you can’t see where it’s bursting at the seams. Yeah. What do I, what do I do?

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (17:54):

    If you are concerned that your loved one has a problem, I would consult with a professional. I would find some people who’ve had a problem, not hard to find out there. You can email me and ask them what they think or what they hear when you describe the situation, that outside view is a really important and great place to start. We cannot always see the whole picture from inside. What you can do is recognize compulsion, cravings, consequences, and the attempt to control. And that can give you, that can give you a blueprint to start figuring out what it is that you’re dealing with. Take that blueprint to someone who knows a lot about this stuff. Ask them what they see, what they hear, and what your next steps should be.

    Scott Drochelman (18:47):

    Love that. Well, I hope if you’re in this boat that this was helpful for you and it was something that maybe can help you sift through a really challenging situation. We hope that there is some direction for you and there’s some places that to go. And, and like Ashley said, if you’re just stumped and you can’t come up with anything, please reach out to us at podcast@linerock.life, uh, and we’re happy to point you in the right direction. Ashley, anything you wanna leave the people with,

    Ashley Loeb Blassingame (19:13):

    If you’re listening to this and your heart is breaking because you’re watching someone that you love, experience what we just talked about. And it’s really hard for you to hear people laughing and joking in between and giggling about these things. I wanna tell you that recovery is possible and in recovery there can be levity. What you’re hearing is someone who has recovered and knows recovery is possible, and your loved one can do the same. That can be a reality in your life as well. That levity, that happiness, that hope, that can be part of your story too. It doesn’t mean that we don’t take it seriously. I take this extremely seriously. But if all you do is torture yourself, thinking about the difficult, painful things, it makes it hard to live the rest of your life, please remember to enjoy parts of your life. Even when you’re scared and there’s a lot of stuff going on, it’s really important to maintain who you are through this process. I’m always here as a person that you can reach out to if you need to. So please feel free to do so. There is hope, there is light at the end of this tunnel. All right, friends, we’ll see you next week.

    (20:27):

    This podcast is sponsored by Lion Rock dot. Life Lion rock.life is a diverse and supportive recovery community offering weekly over 70 online peer support meetings, useful recovery information and entertaining content. Whether you’re newly sober, have many years in recovery, or you’re recovering from something other than drugs and alcohol, we have space for you. Visit www.lionrock.life today and enter promo code courage for one month of unlimited peer support. Meetings free. Find the joy in recovery@lionrock.life.

    Scott Drochelman

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