By Dr. Anthony Policastro

We all know how hard it is kick an addiction. That is true of alcohol. That is true of opiates. That is true of other drugs.

We sometimes do not realize that addiction is not purely physical. A great deal of it is psychological. There are other types of psychological addiction. Most of them are described as cults. Our approach to them needs to be the same as it is with other addictions.

A good example of this is the addiction that QAnon has created. Individuals who subscribe to the theories behind it are addicted to getting more and more. If we treat it as just a fascination with the cult, it will not change the individual’s viewpoint.

The most important thing to realize is that the individual is fully invested in the conspiracy. He/she has no desire to change their beliefs.

There is an old joke that is relevant. It goes: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? The answer is only one but the bulb has to really want to change.

It is like any other addiction. The first step is acknowledging that you have a problem. Until that step is taken, no change will occur.

The good news is that one of the tenets of QAnon was that Trump was not going to leave the presidency. When that actually happened, there were a number of believers who were ready to change. Others have not reached that point.

The second point is that arguing with them about what they believe is not going to change their mind. You would be far better off being supportive of them as an individual. You can support an individual without subscribing to their belief system.

Trying to understand it as a means of talking them down is not productive. As a matter of fact, it might lead to the individual starting to believe some of the fantasies. It would be like trying to understand the addict by becoming one yourself. That is not a healthy approach.

A third point is making sure you get help for yourself in dealing with the individual. We have long known about groups like Adult Children of Alcoholics. They help individuals deal with their parent’s alcoholism.

There is a group that has been set up for relatives of those addicted to QAnon conspiracy theories. It is called r/QAnonCasualties. It can be found online and is a helpful support group.

Learning to deal with a loved one who has an addiction is very difficult. It really doesn’t matter if they have a physical addiction like drugs/alcohol or a psychological addiction like QAnon.