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The Apathy-Addiction Cycle, and How to Break Out

Apathy, which is a lack of interest or enthusiasm, can fuel the cycle of addiction. Once caught in such a cycle, teens can spiral and find themselves dealing with mental health disorders such as depression. When teens are struggling with substance abuse and mental health simultaneously, they require a dual diagnosis treatment program in order to fully recover.

What is Apathy?

Everyone experiences this phenomenon from time to time. Life can get overwhelming, and in the midst of it, it may be difficult to sustain an interest in or care about things as usual. In this regard, apathy is normal. Like other emotional states, however, extended apathy can lead to behavior or feelings that create social, career, school, or relationship problems. Apathy can also lead to harmful behavior, such as experimenting with drugs or alcohol. Helen Keller called apathy evil, saying that “Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings.” She was referencing the lack of caring people often show to the plight of others, but if you are caught in an apathy cycle, you may feel as Keller did—that apathy is evil.

Why Does Apathy Occur?

No one is immune from apathy or the life circumstances that can trigger apathy. Major life changes or stressors can lead to a lack of enthusiasm for life in general. It is common to experience apathy after the death of a loved one or loss of a job. Experiences that degenerate the spirit or overwhelm the mind and body can also lead to apathy, including abusive relationships or chronic health conditions. Health conditions such as postpartum depression, stroke, and encephalitis can cause apathy. Often, this is due to changes in the brain. The emotional state is associated with mental health disorders such as PTSD, bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder.

How Apathy Fuels Addiction

Regardless of the original cause of apathy, drug or alcohol use can extend apathy indefinitely. Apathy may drive individuals to abuse substances as a way to escape the feeling that nothing matters. However, the “relief” provided by drugs and alcohol is only temporary. In fact, individuals may experience greater apathy after use. This can result in them reaching for drugs and alcohol again in order to experience the freedom from apathy, leading to a cycle of addiction. Each time an individual uses, their tolerance increases. In order to experience the same effects they once did, he or she will take a higher dose. The individual becomes reliant on the drug, both mentally and physically. At this point, substance abuse treatment is required in order to break the cycle.

Breaking Free from the Cycle

Breaking free from a substance abuse cycle almost always requires professional assistance for long-term, successful results. When apathy or other emotional issues are involved, professionals can work with individuals–as well as their families and/or other support systems–to treat both the chemical dependency that has developed, as well as the emotional dependency. Without addressing both sides of the issue, individuals are much more likely to return to using as soon as the “evil”  appears again. Fortunately, at Destinations For Teens, we offer a wide variety of adolescent treatment programs to help teens find sobriety and improve their mental health. Whether your teen is enrolled in our residential or outpatient treatment program, they have access to some truly unique treatments, such as depression or trauma treatment. Also, some of our therapeutic modalities and treatment options include:

These therapies, alongside many others, set up teens to have the best chance at success. To learn more about our teen treatment centers and how we can help you or your teen struggling with addiction, contact Destinations for Teens at 877.466.0620.   Citations