loving someone with addiction

Addictions have become highly prevalent in today’s society. Whether it be to alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, or video games. Addictions consume family and relationship resources and can potentially destroy health, relationships, and financial stability. Having a loved one with an addiction can lead to feeling a broad range of emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, and even indifference. It is no wonder that the impact of addictions leaves a trail of costs that are burdensome to society such as health problems, burdens on the legal system, job loss, and the erosion of relationships in general.

The truth is that we are all impacted by addiction in one way or another. In fact, most of us love someone who has an active addiction. How can we navigate through the worry, the fear, the anger, and the mistrust when our loved one is engaging in addictive behavior? It is very important to remember that addiction is complex and is maintained by a multitude of factors. For example, one can become addicted to alcohol or drugs as a result of having gone through traumatic experiences. In this case, the addiction might serve the purpose of numbing unpleasant emotions related to painful memories. It does not take long for the addict to fall prey to reliance on substances or other self-destructive behaviors in order to cope. We can find ourselves loving the addict and feeling tremendous grief as we watch their lives unravel before our very eyes.

We can love the addict by recognizing the powerless aspect of addiction and also the function it serves, primarily escape or a longing to connect. While anger is perfectly normal, it is not fruitful to engage in verbal combat with the addict, especially when they are under the influence. Instead, approaching the addict when they are sober and letting them know you love them and care about them is critical. Offer to help them find the treatment they need. Offer to spend time with them. Help them find necessary resources. Shaming and threatening them does not work and often leads to resentment on their part and more addictive behaviors. Include them in family activities, if possible, and help them feel like they are valued. Seek support for yourself and your family through counseling and other supportive resources. Practice self-care by setting boundaries.

Loving someone with an addiction can be taxing and painful. However, you can be a valuable part of their recovery as you love them through the challenges, encourage them to seek helpful treatment options, and remind them of their worth.