Continued Destructive Behavior Despite Negative Consequences
Hey, so the other day I was in DUI Court, we were there helping out, it was a couple of professionals and I, we were there helping out a client that is struggling with multiple DUI offenses, and it was interesting and kind of frustrating the conversation, because I’m with professionals and it wasn’t just one person that was there for multiple offenses, this was an entire courtroom, and there was person, after person, after person that had got multiple DUIs, and so the questions and comments I kept hearing is, you know, and I took notes on this just because I wanted to make sure I’m touching these points. But when it comes to consequences from substance use we start to wonder like, how can this person continue to do this, despite these consequences? And to me, there’s way more questions than just, How? And it’s funny, so, funny, but frustrating, you know they, how can someone get more than one? How can someone get one DUI, let alone multiple DUIs? And then they start to pass judgment, that they’re stupid, that they don’t care, they’re inconsiderate of other people.
And, what I’m looking at is, nobody wakes up and says ‘hey, I’m gonna go get intoxicated and drive and think I’ll be fine.’ It’s more of a pattern of stuff that seems to happen, and, then there’s unfortunate circumstances. And the question is, is even though bad things happen, why does it continue to happen?
Well, we need to ask a lot more questions. Meaning like, what happened to this person that caused them to behave in this manner? And I’m not talking just about DUIs, but maybe using substances. Are they using it for a specific reason? Did something traumatic happen, did they have some emotional distress, and so forth?
Another question would be why? Why do people continue to use, despite the negative consequences? And how is it they continue to engage in self-destructive behavior, even when the consequences are direct, and significant? So let’s start to look at this, because too many times people give opinions: Oh well that person’s an alcoholic, or that person’s a drug addict, they don’t care about others, nothing matters to them.
And I honestly, I don’t think that could be any further from the truth. We may get frustrated when we have a loved that is abusing substances, or doing something that’s totally self-destructive. But I will tell you that they probably are more angry and upset, and feel worse about themself, than you feel about them, or I feel about them. Or who’s ever, pretty much passing judgment. And so we wanna get away from judgment, we wanna get to understanding, so we can get people help. And it’s not just the individual that’s struggling….family members, friends, employers, the entire community is impacted by these things. So there’s a lot of people suffering, not just one. We need to look at everybody involved.
So, you know, let’s talk about what causes challenges? How is it that people get into these patterns with substance, I’m gonna say, ‘use, abuse, and dependence.’ So think about this, in life there can just be normal circumstances, everyday life, maybe something negative happens to me. It’s just part of it. And, I really don’t wanna deal with the emotionally distressing problem, it’s too painful. So I have a drink, maybe I smoke something, maybe I take a pill of some sort. And magically my mood changes, that is no longer bothering me.
Well what the brain learns is, hey, there is a solution. And, the problem is, it is a solution until it’s no longer a solution. It becomes a problem. But you think about this, okay, it worked once. Again, I never resolved the problem by having a drink or taking whatever substance, you know I took, all’s I did was kind of put it aside and numb the effects. That would be like, oh I got a broken leg and I’m gonna aspirin, morphine, or something and block the pain that’s coming from my broken leg, and I never repair the leg. And it just gets more and more damaged.
Well kind of think about that emotionally. So, you know, people struggle with emotions, I don’t necessarily have to get intoxicated, but I use something that improves my mood, and I start to get in this pattern, that every time something bothers me, I do something that improves my mood. Well, it gets to a point where it stops improving my mood, it never removes the problem. I think you guys know this, it’s fairly common. And then the problems start to build up, build up, they get more severe.
So let’s say, I’m self-medicating, my intention may be to just to go out and relax, have a good time, visit with friends. But I end up drinking, let’s say, and I use more than I intended to, my judgment’s now impaired, and I decide to get in my car and drive home. And next thing you know I’m arrested. Well, that is gonna be very painful for me, and what is my coping skill? My coping skill is to go back and medicate that pain. And so I start to engage in the stuff again.
So, when we look at someone that who has multiple offenses, and it could be arrests, it could be losses of jobs, relationships, other stressors that come with this. It doesn’t just have to be, you know, an arrest for driving under the influence. People continue to engage in these self-destructive patterns, but not because they don’t think about it and it’s not painful to them, it’s because it has become, almost habitual, and their brain just kind of knows this. This will get rid of the problem. It only gets rid of it in the moment until it makes it bigger. And then when it gets bigger, these people are totally struggling. They’re in a lot of emotional pain, like I’m saying, even the emotional pain it might put us in, like the family members surrounding them, the people that care and so forth.
They are probably more angry, self-critical, and down on themselves. Not only that, they probably think about quitting throughout the entire day. Meaning they probably think about it to the moment they’re about to pick something up and drink again. So again this is stuff where okay, we got this pattern that is totally self-destructive, it’s influencing a lot of people, and so we have to look at, okay, how are, what are some of the things we can do to address that?
So I didn’t say it yet, but for those of you that don’t know me, I’m Dr. Jerry Grosso. I’m the clinical director at Nsight Psychology & Addiction, in Newport Beach, California. And when I do, what I’m doing here is I just wanna, answer some questions. I hear things sometimes, and while it may be common knowledge to me, cuz I’m around it all the time, it may not be common to a lot of people out there. So, really what I’m hoping that will happen here, is that we can understand when we have a family member, friend, or loved one that is struggling with something, continued self-destructive behavior. It doesn’t necessarily have to be dependence on substances, I just use that as the beginning of this video because I was just around it the other day.
And when I was around professionals that were, you know, and it, it just, I think human nature, just passing judgment, you know, people don’t care, how could they be so stupid and so forth. That’s not really the issue. The question is, what happened? How did they get into this position? Why does it continue to occur? And how can we intervene to change things for them?
So I do want to cover three things for you guys here. This is like things we can do to help somebody. So the first thing is, is we need to be supportive with the person, but we also need to be direct. And, I want you to think about, we try to avoid, this is human nature, we try to avoid difficult conversations. Right, so I don’t really wanna tell a spouse or loved one, or son or daughter, hey, you’re drinking, or your behavior has become a problem, not just for you, but for me and other people. We want to avoid that, because it’s just going to be argumentative and so forth.
But here’s the thing, this conversation is gonna be difficult no matter when you have it. And you’ve gotta think about it, is it more difficult before bad things happen, or after? I mean do you want to wait ’til someone loses a job, gets a divorce, or loses a relationship, or ends up homeless, or ends up in jail, and then we say, oh we need to have this conversation? Or do we start out in front and say hey, let’s look at where this is already impacting things.
And you’ve gotta remember, again, to be supportive, because the immediate reaction is going to be defensive, like, ‘I don’t have a problem, I can handle this. You’re making a bigger than it needs to be.’ I’m gonna bring it back to me. Like, look, I care about you, I care about me, and I care about us. And I’m just being honest with you that whether you see it or not, I’m letting you know I see it, and this is how it’s impacting us.
So, what I’m doing is, is I’m being direct. I’m having a conversation upfront. And I can ask them, look, do you wanna have this conversation now? Or do you wanna have it when things start getting worse? Because my concern is is when things get worse, it may be too late. You know, in the twelve-step community, you hear a lot what people have to hit their bottom. While that may be true, and that, and I’m taking the understanding that things have to get really bad before they decide that there is a problem and that they need to stop.
Well maybe I bring that bottom out quicker before things get too bad. If I’m in a relationship and I tell my significant other or family member, whoever it is, this is a problem. I can’t let this get any worse because I’m not gonna continue to participate in this dysfunction and madness that’s bringing about a clear problem, and maybe the end of the relationship now, I’m going to end this right now. I’m not going to go through this with you, because it’s going to be too painful for you and too painful for me. And I don’t need it to get any worse than it is right now.
So again I wanna be direct, but, or, I’m gonna say this first, I wanna be supportive. I’m loving and I’m caring, but I’m gonna be direct, I’m gonna be honest with you. The second thing is, is to clearly identify what the expectations are. Okay, and this is where I kinda wanna lean in to the conversation, and not kind of back up. It’s one thing to tell people, hey this is an issue, it’s another thing to say to them, look , this is my expectations. So, and you would have to decide for you what those expectations are.
But they need to be significant enough that they create a change. So, you know, someone can say, hey you need to stop drinking, I’m not toleration drinking anymore. Well, there is a big divide potentially between what someone thinks the problem, what you think is. So I would need to be very clear about what my expectations are, that I do not want drinking negatively impacting any part of our life at this point. And it could be as much as saying, hey after a couple of drinks, you are no fun to be around. I don’t enjoy your company anymore. The conversation deteriorates, or your mood changes, and this is not enjoyable for me.
So I don’t have to say hey you’re an alcoholic, you need to stop, but I’m gonna be very clear, that there is a point. And I’m gonna define the point for you, that I’m not gonna keep doing this. And here’s the thing, it may sound harsh what I’m saying, but that’s not my intention. What I’m trying to do is make it clear, okay. I’m supportive, I’m caring, and I’m trying to prevent self-destruction. Instead of kind of backing up and having you tell me, I’m saying you like you were the one that was drinking, hey you telling me that it’s not a problem and it’s fine, I’m not gonna just say okay whatever. I’m gonna tell you I determine what’s painful for me, you determine what’s painful for you. So let’s have an open conversation and be very clear about what we expect from each other.
Again, and I’ll do another video on this later on how we, as let’s say, a couple, a family member, friends, how we have these conversations, and we work through them in a productive problem solving way. But what I wanna do at this point is at least let you know, I’ve got to have a direction, I gotta lean into it, not back up. It doesn’t mean I need to be argumentative, and it doesn’t indicate I need to be mean about it, okay.
So, the third things is, is I gotta have, I gotta formulate a plan. And it’s gotta have a long term goal. And I’m gonna identify it this way. So I can be supportive and direct, I can be assertive and lean into it, and make my expectations clear. But we’ve also got to have a plan. And it’s just not a plan to get through the day. Okay, well you’re not going to use today or tomorrow, or next week. That’s not the issue. The issue is, what is our plan that would include long term success. So it may be professional help, okay.
So someone might say well I don’t need help. Why would you turn down professional help? If there’s someone out there that could make the path easier, and if you look at it, it may not be just the substance use that’s the problem, it could be our relationship. It could be other stressors and how we’re not working as a team. There could be a lot of factors that are going on here. So we’ll both assume, or, if it’s a family, every member can assume responsibility. We all have a role in this. Let’s get professional help, okay.
The other thing would be, you know, what is the future gonna look like? Not just today, and, I’m kind of reiterating this, not just today, but what’s tomorrow gonna look like? What’s next week gonna look like? What’s it gonna look like two years from now? We’re looking at how do we create healthy relationships. How do we manage emotional distress when it comes up? Because in life you know it’s gonna come up.
How do we work as a team to problem solve? You know, we can say, well, it’s not a big deal, and that may be individually true. There’s personal growth and development people can do, but in this situation we’re talking about, someone engaging in self-destructive behavior. They do have loved ones that care, but maybe not know how to intervene, right? I gotta be direct, I gotta be, you know, assertive and clearly identify my expectations, lean in to this. And then we’ve gotta have a long-term plan.
So, one of the things when we look at a long-term plan, starting today, it’s gonna take two things you’re gonna have to have in it. Time. You’re gonna have to invest time. And you’re gonna have to invest effort. Because it’s gonna take both time and effort in that commitment, to make things better. So, that part we can transcend into really any type of relational issue. This doesn’t have necessarily be indicated of substance abuse, or illegal consequences from continued use and so forth.
The purpose of this video is I just wanted to start sharing some more knowledge with you guys. There are a lot of difficulties that people have out there. They may develop these maladaptive coping skills that become very self-destructive. It’s not their intention to self-destruct and cause problems for themselves and other people. They have gotten to a pattern where the stuff they engage in is not productive. It’s avoid, avoid, avoid. It’s pain, pain, and more pain. And I keep reaching for the same solution, which isn’t a solution at all. It’s avoidance and it never starts to address what the underlying issues are.
So, if we were to sum this all up, I just wanna make sure I got the parts. We don’t wanna pass judgment, okay. We wanna find out why things are happening, and what’s causing it to continue to happen. So, just to let you guys know, there’s professional help out there. Don’t be afraid to go get it. At least get information. If you see things building, and you’re kinda concerned you’re kinda concerned there may be an issue with substance use, you wanna look at a supportive, loving approach. And what type of intervention do we need to do. And I’m not talking about like, oh this intervention process that people do with people struggling with substance abuse and addiction. I’m talking about how do I intervene as a loved one.
And if my intervention’s not working, what do I do differently. I don’t just give up. I need to look at, okay, maybe I need to approach this a little bit different. Maybe I need to get, maybe I need to talk to a professional in getting help with this, saying hey what I’m doing is not working. I need to look, and constantly look for a solution. I’m gonna put time, I’m gonna put effort, and I’m gonna be focused on the solution with a long term plan.
So thanks for watching today. I’m Dr. Jerry Grosso, Nsight Psychology & Addiction. If you liked this video great, give us a like. If you don’t like it, or, if you just have questions, please send them to us at email@example.com. That’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m more than happy to answer your questions, I can do specific videos if you want, on topics that you have interest in. The goal here is to really get rid of this myth of mental illness, addiction as this taboo subject. It only happens to some people. It happens in every family, okay. It impacts everybody. So, no different, and you’ve heard me say this before, than a common cold, you know, stuff comes up in life, I’ve gotta be able to deal with this stuff effectively. I need to address it, not avoid it. I need to find solutions, not medicate it, or try to get away from it, okay.
So, until next time, be healthy and again, if you have any questions just reach out to us at Nsight. I’m Dr. Jerry Grosso. You guys have a terrific day. Thank you.