Addiction is riddled with complexities, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs are intended to help drug users gain clarity of the power to which it controls actions, thoughts and choices. For those of us without drug and alcohol addiction, understanding the behavior of those who do is a difficult process.
“Why won’t they just stop using?”,”How long until they’re clean?”, “Why do they chose to hurt themselves and the people closest to them?” Questions such as these often go unanswered for relatives, spouses and friends of addicts. Reasoning is ineffective and relating is impossible; many soon realize that they can’t fix the problems of their addicted loved ones.
Dealing with an addicted companion can lead to negative pathologies for non-addicts. Guilt, confusion, frustration, co-dependency, and a weighing sense of obligation can deteriorate individuals who are overwhelmed by their loved one’s disease. To heal the wounds inflicted by addiction, it is important for family members to attend group therapy meetings and share their personal struggles with others who’ve had common experiences. Groups like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, the counterparts to Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, are 12-step programs that address the role of addiction and recovery in family members’ lives.
To better grasp the battle of an addicted loved one, communication is essential. Relay your feelings about your partner’s decisions and behaviors, and encourage them to discuss their inner struggle. Let go of the idea that you can shield your loved one from the disease and that you can control their actions. Learn more about the effects of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as the addiction recovery process.
You may never fully empathize with what your loved one is going through, but taking charge to educate yourself about addiction and conversing with non-addicts in similar circumstances will set you on a path to understanding.