Here’s an unfortunate truth: You don’t have to be an addict to suffer from addiction.
For loved ones, addiction can be just as emotionally destructive, distressing and hopeless as it is for the addict – sometimes even more so.
Who can help you with the heartbreak and emotional fallout that you’ve experienced? Too often, we feel isolated and marginalized during a loved one’s addiction. We’re told not to be angry or hold grudges, as they can hamper our loved one’s recovery process.
With all the focus and compassion directed toward the addict, we’re left with a wealth of lingering questions in our hearts and minds.
What About My Feelings?
Addiction causes immense emotional pain for everyone involved. Your feelings are important; it’s crucial to evaluate your mental state after an addicted loved one enters treatment. You’re undoubtedly dealing with a ton of raw emotions, so seeking your own support system – whether it’s friends, family or support groups – is warranted and advised.
Doesn’t Anyone Care How Hard I Tried?
Most likely, everyone within your intimate social circles knows how hard you tried to help your loved one overcome his or her addiction. From gentle words of encouragement to fits of rage, you’ve spend plenty of time “helplessly helping” because you just didn’t know what else to do. There’s no two ways about it; loved ones always try. Unfortunately, addiction is a fierce predator and you can’t “fix” it for someone else.
Why Do I Feel Like I’m to Blame?
Anyone who’s familiar with the disease of addiction already knows that pointing the finger and playing the blame game is beyond unhealthy. Keep in mind, however, this unhealthy pattern includes self-blame. In a time of recovery, family and friends are best served by examining past dynamics, feelings and behaviors. Recovery is a time for growth, empathy and support – not beating yourself up for thoughts of what you “could have” and “should have” done.
Struggling with the Anger: It’s perfectly normal to feel short-term anger toward an addicted loved one. If you let anger become a permanent state of mind, however, it will eat you alive. In fact, holding on to anger can and will prevent your own personal healing.
How Will My Life Change?
Addiction quickly becomes the center of relationships. When the active addiction is removed, your life will undoubtedly change. And this isn’t a bad thing. Although change can be scary, try to look at the notion of change as taking a long, refreshing breath after you’ve been suffocating. Take time to reevaluate what’s important to you and concentrate on your own methods of self-care.
Who Can I Turn to for Help?
Family support groups, such as Al-Anon, are excellent places to meet like-minded loved ones who are experiencing the same emotions you are feeling. If you’re not comfortable with group settings, family counselors who specialize in addiction can also offer you some valuable insights during the recovery process.
In the end, your loved one will either embrace sobriety or rebuff the recovery process. Either way, that’s a decision you can’t make for someone else.
You have to focus on what you can do for yourself in terms of healing and recovery. Take your focus off of your addicted loved one and, instead, give yourself permission to transfer that love and concern back onto yourself. Remember; you deserve to live each day in happiness and health.
Additional Reading: Compassion Fatigue: Is it Happening to Your Family?
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