Living with an addiction is devastating for addicts and their family and friends. Communication is difficult for the addict because the addiction is in control and their thoughts are not their own. It’s also hard for loved ones, as they’re not communicating with the same person they’ve known all their lives.
There are things that addicts wish their loved ones knew, and understanding them can make a profound difference on your relationship. Let’s look at what some of them are.
1. They don’t want to hurt you.
Addicts are not oblivious to your struggles. They are aware that they’re hurting you by lying, stealing or not coming home at night. To cope, some addicts distance themselves from the ones they love. Or, they may act out in anger or frustration when their real emotion is guilt. You have a right to be hurt, but it’s important to recognize that the addict’s intention is not to hurt you.
2. They are not doing this on purpose.
Addiction is a frustrating disease. No matter what ultimatums you give or how compassionate you are, it seems your loved one keeps going down the wrong path. It can feel as if the addict doesn’t care anymore or is making the conscious decision to abuse drugs. But, addicts aren’t doing this on purpose. Many wish they could stop. They just can’t.
3. It can happen to anyone.
Addicts don’t want you to look at them as scum. Addiction is a disease that can happen to anyone. It doesn’t discriminate. Rather than passing judgement, be compassionate and understanding. Get educated on the disease and learn how to be a positive influence on a potential recovery.
4. It’s more complicated than getting high.
People who have never struggled with addiction tend to think that it’s all about getting high and drunk. Addiction is a very complex disease. It goes much deeper than getting intoxicated. Many addicts struggle with a co-occurring condition such as depression, anxiety or PTSD. Some have been abused or neglected. There are usually deep rooted reasons for why a person becomes addicted.
5. They need your support.
Addicts may not want to admit it, but your support is needed. Lecturing, criticizing or passing judgement will only distance you from the addict. You need to find balance, though, as you don’t want to push yourself on the person. Be available and support sobriety. If the addict shares things with you, don’t share them with anyone else. This could sever your bond.
Addicts aren’t the best communicators. There are many things they wish you knew, but it’s hard to articulate them. Hopefully this article has provided insight on how to be more supportive and understanding through this process. When the addict is ready to accept help, your relationship will be in a better place.