Health Magazine

Loving to Get High

By Tomretterbush @thomretterbush
Loving to Get High“Loving to Get High” is what addiction is all about. It’s the reason behind continued use, despite consequences. It hooks an addict at a deep and visceral level, going beyond common sense and logic. It is behind all of the deception and the ruse of the secret life of an addict.
“Loving to Get High” is also the most unrecognized aspect of the path to addiction. It is ignored by professionals; social workers, addiction counselors, educators & Doctors. Parents have no clue that this secret love relationship exists.
“Loving to Get High” gives reason for the addict to keep this duplicitous life going. Secretly the addict knows that if someone figures out the power and strength of this love relationship, it will come to an end.
Therefore we have the biggest cat and mouse game imaginable.
What I’m talking about, I have learned from working with “adolescents in denial”, but more importantly I learned all about this from my son who got high for three years without my wife or me figuring it out. This either made us naïve or him a very good liar, or maybe a little of both.
Bottom line, our son loved to get high and did everything possible to keep it a secret; including being sweet, cooperative and considerate. He continued to go to church with us and attend youth group. But he had a secret life; he loved to get high. His drug of choice was ‘acid’; he smoked a lot of ‘pot’ and the bottom fell out of his lie and life when he got high on ‘Angel Dust’.
When the assessment counselor told us that our son was an inch away from going into treatment we were shocked. How could he have let this go so far? As a parent it was disconcerting that our son was in this much trouble and we had not done something about it.
As a professional I knew better, not to fall for the excuses like; he’s depressed or he’s being bullied in school, he has reasons to act this way. But as a parent it was different, it was my son, not a client or someone else’s kid.
As a professional it actually brought about a break through. Now I figured out how deep seated and understandable “parent denial” was. There is a reason it’s hard to get to the bottom of this issue. Kids and parents are both victims to this secret ‘loving to get high’ relationship.
Maybe this experience could benefit parents everywhere. If I could help them figure out ahead of time that they were being lied to by a son/daughter who had a lot to lose, by you figuring out what was going on, it would all be worth it.
When I looked back at my career I realized that in the back of my mind, I actually knew what to look for, unfortunately this never came to mind. Thirty-two years ago I worked at a treatment center that used, what I thought, was a unique definition to addiction. It goes like this;
“A primary, love-trust relationship with a mood-altering-chemical, (MAC) that systematically changes a persons, attitude, values, goals and relationships.”
I’ve occasionally referred to this definition, but have never heard it used by any other program or counselor. I may have assumed that it was a good definition for its time, but not relevant to the parenting, prevention or treatment of adolescent addiction.
It was not until the “the Loving to Get High Syndrome” hit home, that this idea of a “primary love/trust relationship with a MAC” started making sense. I guess this treatment program was on to something.
I remember telling parents that since this relationship was ‘primary’ that everything and everyone in their kid’s life had become secondary; including school, values, goals and them as parents. We also talked about infatuation, which is a form of head over heels love that affects our thinking, judgment, priorities, moods, etc.
All of these great teaching tools disappeared when it came to raising my own son. Maybe this happened for a reason. What I was considering a nice idea about addiction and a helpful teaching tool for parents, actually ends up to be much more significant. It’s not just a good idea; it’s the essence of addiction.
The “Loving to Get High Syndrome” is beneath and before any addiction.
• The “automobile of addiction” goes nowhere without the fuel of “loving to get high”. • The “D.N.A. of addiction” is found in “loving to get high”. • The “conception of addiction” is the “realization that ‘I love the way this makes me feel’. • The “disease of addiction” is in the “biology of loving to get high.”
There is so much significance in “Loving to get high”, that I would dare say that addiction would not exist without it. And it is the part of the problem that we totally ignore. It is also a part of the solution that we are not tapping into.
If you’re a parent a big part of the solution is figuring out what is going on and doing something about it. First thing is for you to realize that there is a reason for an addict to lie, even if it is your sweet and innocent son or daughter. That’s what this is all about.
The second thing is for you to know very specifically what you are looking for. Here is a list of signs and symptoms that will help you identify what this “Loving to Get High Syndrome” looks like.
• Lying, in order to not get busted.• Minimizing problems that are connected to getting high and drunk.• Blaming others for things that I did.• Drama, crying, hysterics; strong put-on emotions, to make you too worried to act.• Guilt producing accusations towards you.• Telling you things like; “You don’t trust me!” “Why are you so mean to me?”• Comparing you to other parents, “Joe’s parents let him stay out all night”.• Sneaking around and suspicious behavior.• Elaborate excuses for this, that and the other thing. • Intimidating and threatening behavior to get you to back down. • Good grades. “How could some with straight ‘A’s’ be getting high?”• Good behavior and compliance, letting you know that “You can trust me”.• Bad behavior and Defiance, letting you know that “You can’t control me!”• Erratic behavior and out of control behavior. • An “I don’t care and what are you going to do about it?” attitude.• Skipping out of family activities.• Laziness and procrastination.• Extra social and new friends.• Using “Axe” body spray to cover up the smell of pot.
“It’s time to talk!” Your denial of what’s been going on has been connected to not knowing; being confused, feeling insecure about what the deal is. Now with what you are learning it’s time to act.

When my wife and I figured out that our son was using we did three things immediately; had a drug use assessment done by a counselor, started doing random drug tests and the third thing was to go to an educational class for parents in the community.
These 3 steps started a process of getting help; for our son and for us. We went to Alanon Group for parents and our son went to Alcoholics Anonymous and got a sponsor. It wasn’t easy, but it was a pro-active process that created results and addressed the problem.
All I can say is start; begin your own pro-active process and good-luck.
Written By: Timothy Titus M.P.H.
Check out Timothy Titus's website, Teenage Drug Use; Loving to Get High Syndrome at
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