LOVING AN ADDICT
Loving an addict is one of the most difficult things you may have to do in your life
The loved ones of addicts or alcoholics commonly express that they feel powerless, overwhelmed, desperate, ashamed, guilty, angry, frustrated, sad, bewildered, confused, lonely, devastated, disgusted, terrified, paranoid, regretful, self-pitying and/or remorseful… to name just a few!
We at Miracles Asia understand what you are experiencing, and we can help. There are some facts we would like to share with you:
You are not alone
You can call our family support crew at any time to discuss your options and to receive information about addiction and how to manage your part in your loved one’s recovery.
It’s not about you
Addiction is a disease. The medical and psychiatric profession have categorised addiction and alcoholism as diseases. It is not because of anything you did or didn’t do. If your loved one was diagnosed with a chronic disease such as diabetes or asthma or cancer, would you think you and/or your loved one were to blame? No. Addiction is not a choice. It may become so frustrating for you that you may lose sight of the fact that the addict is powerless over their addiction. Using may have been a choice once, but if the disease has progressed, your loved one has lost the power of choice and needs help.
Therefore, we encourage you try to see addiction as a chronic disease that requires treatment and management, like any other chronic disease. You can help by involving yourself in your loved one’s treatment and recovery. Remember you didn’t cause it; you can’t control it; and you can’t cure it. Relax, and together let’s work out how you can be part of the solution.
Try not to take the addict behaviours personally
This does not mean you have to accept the almost certain deceit and sometimes abhorrent behaviours your addict is displaying. However, knowing that the secretive and desperate, sometimes harmful, behaviours are part of the territory of the disease of addiction can create some space for you to start to see things more objectively and with less heightened emotion. This objective perspective can help you to start establishing clearer boundaries and inch closer to a plan of treatment for your loved one.
There is no quick fix, but there is hope
That there is no quick solution is often the hardest fact to accept. When a person becomes addicted, the reward circuitry of the brain becomes damaged. What this means is that your loved one loses self-control and becomes unable to make sound judgements and decisions. This is a biological brain issue. Not a moral issue. Again, the addict has lost the ability to see clearly, loses sight of values and previous normal behavioural patterns. The good news is that this degenerative process can be reversed! But it takes time. And professional treatment.
Often the treatment needs to be in a new supportive professional environment for 60-90 days to achieve lasting success
Research has proven that when an addict is initially treated in an environment away from where they used their drug/behaviour, the possibility of repair of damaged thought and behavioural patterns is increased significantly.
The addict must do their work, and you must do yours
If you have read this far then we know there is no doubt about the love and concern you have for your family member, partner, friend or colleague. We can also suspect that you have tried many ways to help them, and they haven’t worked. It is a natural reaction to try and help people you love. However, where addiction is concerned, family or friends can become part of the problem.
You may have heard of the term “enabling”. This is the term used for helping someone so much that you end up helping them to get sicker, not better. Some of the things you may have done include: not mentioning the addiction or its consequences; keeping secrets about your loved one’s behaviours; giving your loved one money or financial help; shielding them from legal consequences; letting them get away with unacceptable behaviours, such as violence or abuse; picking up responsibilities that your loved one cannot fulfill; losing support of friends or family who can’t understand your behaviours, and many more demeaning and upsetting examples you may be able to add.
Self care ensures there will be something healthy remaining for the recovering addict to return to.
Look after yourself first
We have an analogy that we like to use here. Being the loved one of an addict is like being a parent to a child in a plane. While it is counter-intuitive to a parent to breathe the dropped down oxygen before giving it to the child, it is the same difficult dilemma the loved one of an addict faces. You MUST use the oxygen first. You cannot be of any assistance to your sick person if you are gasping for air!
Don’t Give Up H.O.P.E. which stands for Hang On, Pain Ends! We can help.
The Miracles Asia team can provide the needed treatment and support for you and your loved one. All it takes from you is to contact us here at Miracles Asia, and a Family Support Consultant will be in touch with you as soon as possible. Please refer to the Miracles Asia Support page for more information about how we can help, or contact us and we will be in touch shortly.