When Someone You Care About Has an Addiction
The consequences of addiction, both for addicts and for those who care about them, are terrible – the deception, the guilt, the loss of relationships, and the disintegration of individuals are just a few of the consequences. The knowledge that they are loved by someone who cares about them provides addicts with instant motivation to continue using.
Giving money you can’t afford and saying yes when saying yes would ruin you are all examples of how love and the urge to get them safely through their addiction can lead you into situations where your body becomes frozen with anxiety at the sound of a telephone call late at night. Seeing them is something you hate doing, yet you have no choice but to see them right away.
Even if you get tired of enjoying them, you will never grow tired of loving them. If you’re hoping that the addict would cease the craziness — the guilt trips, the lying, the manipulating – you’re going to be disappointed. If you can’t say no to the manipulations of their addiction in your non-addicted condition, you can be sure that they won’t be able to say no in their addicted state, either! The reason is not that they won’t, but rather that they are unable.
For those who care about an addict, it will be a long and agonizing path until they come to the realization that there is nothing they can do to help them. The day will come when you’re drained and devastated, and you’ll be feeling the anguish of their self-destruction pushing brutally and forever upon your soul. It is inevitable that your connections and the environment around you will begin to crumble, and you will cut yourself on the sharp edges of the crumbling masonry. Then you will realize, from the deepest and most pure part of yourself, that you simply cannot continue to live your life as you have been.
However, the statements in this piece are from a person who has a personal relationship with an addict. I have a friend who has struggled with addiction to a variety of drugs and alcohol. Having to see this has been quite difficult. Seeing the impact on the individuals I care about who are closer to him than I am has been very sad.
To say that my sympathy has never wavered would be an exaggeration. Sadly, this has not been the case! Every inch of it has been shaved down to its barest essentials. I get the feeling that I have nothing left to offer him on a consistent basis. After many years of experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is absolutely nothing someone can do to modify his behavior or attitudes. There is nothing we can do, despite our collective intelligence, courage, love, and unwavering will to make things better for him.
Some time ago, I realized I couldn’t sit in the passenger seat with someone who was on such a relentless route to self-destruction behind the wheel of their car. Years, a great deal of heartache, and a great deal of collateral damage to individuals, relationships and lives outside of his own have been required.
What I do know is that when he is ready to choose a different path, I will be there to support him with love, compassion, and a deep determination to stand with him in whatever manner he needs to help him recover from his addiction…. The choice will be made with an army of people standing behind and behind him, but until that time I and those who care about him are helpless to prevent it. You are correct, and I am aware of that.
Nothing is intended to turn into an addiction, and if you are someone who loves an addict – whether it’s your parent, kid, spouse, friend or sibling – the guilt, shame, and helplessness that comes with it may seem overpowering.
A person’s character, personality, spirit, or situation are not harmed by addiction. It is possible for anybody to be victimized by this situation. There are human implications to this human state, and since we are all human, we are all exposed to it. A person who is addicted might come from any walk of life and from any background. It’s probable that, even if we don’t love someone who has an addiction, we’ll come into contact with someone who does, making this a vital talk for all of us to have.
Having an issue with loving an addict is that sometimes the things that may assist them are the same things that would seem unpleasant, cold, and cruel if they were done in response to people who are not addicts. When it comes to responding to an addict, the most effective methods often have the astounding ability to overwhelm people who care about them with feelings of shame and sadness, self-doubt and, of course, resistance.
If you are in any way involved with an addict, you may find yourself in one of the most lonely places on the face of the earth. If you remove assistance from an addict, it’s easy to feel criticized, but at some point, it becomes the only option left to you. If someone hasn’t been in battle armor with you, fighting the war, being brought to their knees, having their heart shattered, and having their will tested, it’s not their place to pass judgement.
Because the more we are able to speak about addiction in an open manner, the more we will be able to alleviate the feelings of shame, guilt, sadness, and unrelenting self-doubt that often prevent us from responding to an addict in a way that promotes healing rather than addiction. We give each other permission to feel what we feel, love who we love, and be who we are, with all of the weaknesses, ragged edges, bravery, and wisdom that are all a part of being human when we communicate to one another about it.
In the Case of a Loved One Who Is an Addict
You’re dealing with a very different person this time around..
The person you care about vanishes when an addiction takes hold, at least until the addiction is no longer able to maintain its grasp on the individual.
The person you care about is still somewhere in there, but it’s not the person you’re interacting with right now, unfortunately. Addiction transforms individuals, even if the person you remember was kind, humorous, giving, intelligent, and powerful – among many other good qualities. For some people, it takes some time for them to adapt to this new reality, and it is quite natural for them to react to the addicted person as if he or she is the person they remember. The manipulations, the lies, and the treachery are so easy to fall for because we are so used to falling for them. Despite the fact that you’re replying to someone else, this is not the person you’re remembering.
This is something you must embrace before you can begin working for the person you love and remember. This will include doing things that are at times harsh and always terrible in order to deprive the addiction of the ability to keep that person away from you and your loved ones. Your loved one may be in there; focus on that individual rather than the addict in front of you for encouragement and support.
Once you’ve learned to avoid falling for their manipulations and falsehoods as well as feelings of shame and guilt, the more probable it will be that the person you remember will be able to find their way back to you and your loved ones.
Make no assumptions that they will accept your arguments.
Addiction causes a person’s world to be skewed when the addiction takes possession of him or her. It’s important to recognize that you can’t reason with or convince them to view things your way. These people do not see their falsehoods as lies at all. There is no sense of betrayal in their actions. Although they are destroying themselves, it does not always feel like they are doing so themselves. It has the sensation of being on the edge of extinction.
When there is no other alternative but to change, change will occur; it will not occur when you are able to discover the switch by providing enough knowledge or rationale to the person in question.
When you shield them from their own suffering, you are obstructing their ability to come to terms with their situation.
The emotional anguish that addicts experience when the addiction is not there is worse than the emotional agony that occurs when the addiction is present. Changing one’s behavior will only occur when the behavior in question causes them enough discomfort that doing so is a preferable alternative to remaining the same. We all need to be reminded of this, not just addicts. Often, we put off change — in our relationships, our careers, our routines – until we’ve experienced enough difficulty with the current circumstance that we’re willing to consider a new path forward.
It is possible to experience change when the force for change is higher than the force for remaining the same.
There will be no change until the physical anguish of addiction surpasses the mental suffering that motivates the addiction.
When you do something that makes their addictive behavior easier, or that protects them from the pain of their addiction – such as lending them money, lying for them, or driving them around – you are preventing them from reaching the point where they feel enough pain that giving up the addiction is a better choice. Make no attempt to downplay or dismiss the addiction, nor should you make any excuses for it. You should love them, but you should not stand in the way of their recovery by shielding them from the agony of their addictions.
Addiction may be loved in a variety of ways.
It is possible that by loving them in the same way you loved them before the addiction, you will end up supporting the addiction rather than the individual. It’s critical for both of you to have clear limits. When the boundaries you once had are crossed, you may find yourself doing things that are unintentionally beneficial to the addiction.
It’s quite OK to say no to things you may have previously agreed to – in fact, it’s essential – and it’s frequently one of the most loving things you can do for someone else in return. In order to make it easier, create an anchor – a phrase or an image that will serve as a constant reminder of why your ‘no’ is so crucial. The addiction has fully established itself in the life of the person you care about if you believe that saying no puts you in danger.
It is reasonable to expect that you will need professional assistance to help you remain safe, which may include ceasing communication with the other person in certain situations. Separation between you and the other person has nothing to do with how much love and commitment you have for the other person and has everything to do with keeping you both safe.
Both of you benefit from knowing where your limits are.
It is likely that your boundaries will need to be stronger and higher with an addict than they are with other people in your life. Even though it’s easy to feel shame and remorse over this, keep in mind that your limits are critical since they’ll be working hard for both of you. Because you won’t be as blinded by the mess or as willing to see things through the addict’s eyes – a view that frequently involves entitlement, hopelessness, and believing in the validity of his or her manipulative behavior – setting boundaries will help you see things more clearly from all angles. Respectfully and as frequently as necessary, set your boundaries.
Ensure that addicts understand the ramifications of breaching the limits and that the punishments are carried out, otherwise the situation will become confused and unjust to everyone involved. As your boundaries become more thin, the addict’s behavior will deteriorate as a result of your denial of their importance. It’s just going to damage you both in the end.
You are unable to repair them, and it is imperative that you cease all attempts to do so for the sake of everyone.
You have no influence over the addict or what they do with their lives. This is how things have been and will continue to be forever. It is impossible to escape from an addiction because it consumes you and distorts your perception of the world. Understand the difference between what you can alter (yourself, your thoughts, your actions) and what you cannot change (anyone else). Because of this, you will gain strength, but it will take time for you to believe it, which is perfectly fine. If you care about someone who is addicted, you should be aware that their desire to quit is not enough. To be free of the impulse to mend or modify them, you must release them with love, and this is done in the interests of both you and the other person.
Take a look at the truth.
When fear becomes overwhelming, denial is a perfectly normal way to protect yourself from the painful reality of the situation. It’s easy to keep up the pretense that everything is well, but doing so will simply encourage the addictive behavior to burrow further into the subconscious mind. You should pay attention if you are asked to provide money, emotional resources, time, or babysitting – or anything else that goes beyond what you are comfortable providing.. Observe your own feelings about if anything is wrong, no matter how fleeting. When anything is wrong, our feelings are quite strong and will often attempt to notify us long before our intellect are ready to listen.
Stay away from activities that encourage their drug use.
As soon as you fall in love with an addict, all kinds of limits and social norms are thrown out the window. Make a distinction between providing assistance and providing opportunities for further assistance. A long-term perspective is taken into consideration while providing assistance. Delivering instant respite is the goal of enabling, and it does not consider the long-term consequences of providing that temporary comfort. It’s completely understandable to want to help someone you care about, and it’s even more understandable to want to accommodate an addict. However, when it comes to someone who is addicted, providing money, housing and letting go of healthy boundaries are all contributing to the addict’s continued addiction.
While it is customary to assist those we care about when they are in need, the distinction between aiding and enabling must be clearly distinguished. A person benefits from assistance. Addiction is aided by providing opportunities.
Consider the consequences of your decisions with as much candor as you can muster up. While I understand how tough this is, when you alter what you do, the addict will also have to modify what he or she does in order to accommodate the adjustments you have made. If you do this, the addicted person will most likely feel guilty, but you should assure him or her that if he or she chooses to change, you will be the first one there with open arms, and that you love him or her as much as you always did. Most likely, you will be told that you are not believed, but this is intended to encourage you to engage in more enabling behaviors.
Please take in what they are saying, be grieved by it, and even feel guilty if you want to – but please do not reverse your choice for their sake.
Don’t accept their self-perception as factual or accurate.
They will believe with every fiber of their being that they are unable to exist without their drug of choice or alcohol addiction. Make no mistake: don’t believe everything you’re told. If they feel that they can be entire again without their addiction, you’ll have to convince them that they can be whole again as well. Accept that they aren’t ready to go in that direction just yet, and that’s perfectly OK; but, do not actively promote their belief that they have no choice but to completely succumb to their addiction while they are still working on it.
By doing anything that encourages their addiction, you are signaling your lack of confidence in their ability to live a life free of addiction. This might act as a powerful anchor to help you maintain your own space.
Situations may get worse before they become better when you maintain your position.
Your ability to be manipulated will increase in proportion to how much you allow yourself to be influenced. You may notice that the manipulation becomes worse before it gets better after you maintain your position and refuse to give in. The tendency to do more of something that has always worked is ingrained in human nature. Keep your mouth shut when others are blaming you or making you feel guilty. The person may retreat, grow enraged, become extremely depressed, suffer from pain, or develop sickness. Even if they realize your commitment, they will not be able to continue their efforts until you determine that what they are doing is ineffective.
You and your own self-love are the key here. You can’t get away from it.
Similar to how it is the addict’s obligation to recognize their own needs and satisfy them in a safe and gratifying manner, it is your responsibility to discover and meet your own needs. Otherwise, you will be depleted and injured — emotionally, physically, and spiritually – and that is not healthy for anybody.
Was there anything in it for you?
Taking up this subject will need an open mind and a bold heart in order to examine it. Those suffering from addiction engage in addictive behaviors in order to avoid suffering. People who care about them often engage in enabling behavior to prevent them from experiencing suffering. It’s difficult to be in a relationship with an alcoholic or drug user.
Serving the individual may be a means to relieve your own suffering while also seeming to be an act of love toward someone you are trying to approach and connect with. The act of compensating for the pain caused by the other person may also be a technique to make up for any negative thoughts you might have against them. Everything you’re experiencing is perfectly normal, but it’s crucial to consider if you’re unknowingly adding to the situation. Be honest with yourself, and prepare yourself for terrible situations that may arise.
– If you need help, talk to a trustworthy friend or a professional counselor. Perhaps one of the most crucial things you can do for the addict is to provide them with a safe haven. Make a mental note of what you believe will happen if you cease helping them in your current capacity. Then consider the ramifications of failing to do so. What you’re doing may save the person’s life in the short term, but the more severe the addictive behavior, the more damaging the long-term repercussions of that behavior will be if it is permitted to go on in perpetuity. Even if you cannot prevent it from continuing, it is possible to reduce your contribution to it over time.
You must be willing to examine what you’re doing with an open mind, and you must be courageous enough to confront yourself about whatever it is that is keeping the addiction going. To the more that you make it simpler for them to sustain their addiction, the more likely it is that they will do so. Simply said, it is both simple and complex.
Is there anything in your own life that you need to alter right now?
The fact that you are concentrating on an addict almost certainly means that you are not concentrating on yourself at all. It is possible that concentrating on the addict can relieve the discomfort of dealing with other concerns that have the potential to cause you distress. Keep a kind attitude toward yourself while you investigate this; otherwise, you may be tempted to continue to distort the truth. Put yourself out there, be bold, be compassionate, and reestablish your sense of self, your boundaries, and the rest of yourself. Without first taking care of yourself, you cannot expect the addict in your life to deal with their difficulties, recover, and make the very courageous decision to begin living a healthy life.
Make no attempt to point the finger at the alcoholic or drug addict.
However, blaming the addict will only help to keep you angry, wounded, and powerless in your position. A lot of people feel ashamed of their addiction. In other words, it is the gasoline that got the ball rolling and will keep it rolling. Take care not to contribute to the spread of shame by continuing to engage in negative behavior.
Wait for a while.
Perfection is not the goal; progress is. While there will be many positive developments, there will also be many negative developments. Make no mistake about it: taking a step backward is not the same as being unsuccessful. The answer is no. Recovery never takes place in a straight line, and taking steps backwards is an important part of the process of becoming well.
There are times when the only option is to let go of something.
At times, though, even all of one’s love is insufficient. It may be quite difficult to love someone who is addicted to anything. It is possible to feel that uncomfortable. The thought of letting go of someone you care about profoundly may seem incomprehensible to those who have never experienced it; nevertheless, if you are on the verge of making that choice, you will understand the desperation and depth of raw agony that may drive such a difficult decision.
Recognize that it is perfectly OK to let go.
There are occasions when this is the only alternative. Giving someone up does not imply that you no longer care for them – it never does. However, if you prefer, you can leave the door open. Even when they are at their most desperate, ruined, and sad, let them know that you believe in them and that you will be there for them when they are ready to make a change. This will leave the door open, but it will also place the responsibility for their recovery in their own hands, which is the only place it should be.
Let them know that you love them and have always loved them — whether they believe it or not – before you leave them. saying it is for both of you and them is a good way to put it