Addiction isn’t just something that affects the addict. It also has ramifications on those who are close to them, like family and friends. Addiction is a chronic condition that distresses and alters the entire family system and impacts anyone close to the sufferer. For relatives and close friends of addicts there can be a whirlwind of emotions. Some people will see the disease as that, a disease, while others will see it far differently. However, regardless of empathy and understanding, those close to someone struggling with an addiction are negatively impacted in many ways.
Addiction Hurts Loved Ones
Addiction obviously hurts the addict, negatively affects their quality of life, and can cause them to lose their jobs, their friends, and even their family. However, addiction also hurts family and friends, especially those in close proximity. On an immediate basis, addiction affects spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, children, parents, and grandparents. It will tear apart families, and even pit concerned loved ones against each other when family members see the situation differently.
Close family members aren’t the only ones that will feel the effects of addiction though. Friends and colleagues of the addict will see and feel the differences in their friend’s actions and behaviors. There will be unexplained absences, periods of irresponsibility, and conflict that erode the relationship. Many addicts, especially high-functioning addicts, can at times be so convincing with their explanations, that concerned loved ones will begin to doubt themselves.
No matter who you are, dealing with a friend or a family member suffering from addiction is mentally exhausting. You will struggle, spend much of your time worrying about them, or trying not to. Not only can their addiction itself cause arguments at home, but also you’ll find it hard not to wonder if you will see them alive when you see them next. This can be taxing on even the strongest person. This can also cost job loss to family members, when they miss work dealing with problems in the family. Addiction also perplexes family members who typically try to reason with their afflicted loved one and plead with them to stop, or seek help. Yet, as most families plagued by addiction realize, logic is utterly useless when trying to reach their addicted loved one.
While it can be hard to imagine, and even more painful to think about, addicts can sometimes lose control of their own actions and become violent, even with the smallest of family members. Not only that, but if a spouse or child were to be in a vehicle with them when they are high or intoxicated, it’s risking their lives and years of more pain. It’s a very scary situation to live in, and it’s understandable why so many family members tend to give up on the addicts in their lives.
The mistake many concerned loved ones make is believing that if the addict close to them seeks help or is simply abstinent, then all will be well. When you have an addict in your life, to find your own peace and lasting recovery, you will need to take action and create significant changes. Those changes can include spending time in therapy, learning to let go when they need help, and participating in rehab programs and a family solution with your loved one. Sadly, the biggest change could be losing your loved one to their addiction, or if they commit a crime or harm someone else while high and end up in jail. There are many ways that addiction hurts everyone involved.
The late-stage addict may simply be focused on their next fix, and may not have the mental capacity to be concerned with what is happening to the people around them. It isn’t until they begin the healing process, that they will be able to see the damage and pain that they have caused the people they love.
The Addiction Solution
There is a solution for the addict and their concerned loved ones. An appropriate treatment facility can be an amazing and needed start, but even the best of these programs are simply a beginning. Addiction is a chronic condition that requires a comprehensive, individualized long-term solution that treats the entire family system.
A true solution is complete and tailored to the specific individual and any co-occurring disorders. It also includes the family, as when the family system heals there is a more conducive environment for the addict to also heal and return.
Addiction does not have to be looked upon as hopeless. With proper treatment and attention to the disease, lasting recovery is a true and realistic proposition for even the most severe cases.