How to Have Compassion for Your Addicted Love One
Millions of Americans struggle with addiction each year, yet it’s still viewed in a taboo light most of the time. Even with all of the research and medical attention is given to drug and alcohol abuse over the past decade, we still tend to look down on our friends and loved ones who exhibit addictive behavior. While we might not openly admit it, there are feelings of frustration, resentment, and anger deep down. But how can we push these feelings aside and show love and compassion?
4 Ways to Show Genuine Compassion
When you think about addiction and all of the mistakes your loved one is making, it’s helpful to consider your own life. You might not struggle with the same issues, but there are certainly problems and shortcomings that you face. What makes your junk any less messy than their junk?
Keeping this in mind, you can begin to think about your loved one in a kinder light. Here are some practical things you can do to show genuine compassion along the way:
1. Understand What’s Really Happening
Whether we’re cognizant of it or not, most of us view addiction as more of a criminal problem than a medical problem. However, the truth is that addicts don’t choose addiction.
“This wiring in brain circuitry creates distortions in thinking, feelings, and perceptions. This is why addicts behave in ways that do not necessarily make sense to others,” explains Sagebrush, a premier treatment center in Virginia. “Whereas other people recognize impulsivity, poor decision-making, and irrationality as problematic, the addict sees these as normal functions of his or her life. Addicts’ drug use and drinking is the manifestation of the disease; it is not the cause of the disease.”
2. Stop Dishing Out Shame
They might not show it all the time, but addicts experience massive amounts of shame. They wake up with shame, feel shame throughout the day, and go to bed with shame. It’s a huge part of their identity.
You might think that shaming your loved one will help them see how much they’re hurting you, but they already know. Shame will only cause them to become more reclusive and less communicative.
3. Encourage Them to Seek Help
You don’t want to force your loved one to seek help, but you should encourage them to do so. It may take months or years before they’re ready, but your constant presence and encouragement go a long way towards helping them think about recovery as a possibility.
4. Take Some Time to Yourself
If you’re spending every waking minute with your loved one or thinking about them, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. To provide the sort of compassion and encouragement they need to thrive, take some time to yourself. This will help you attend to your own needs and put things into perspective.
You might be the only person your loved one has who will point them back on the right path. It’s easy to view this as a weight around your neck, but don’t look at it from this perspective. View it as an opportunity to make a difference.
Look Beyond Yourself
When someone close to you is suffering from addiction, it’s easy to focus on yourself. You’ll likely experience feelings of hurt, neglect, betrayal, and loneliness. And while there’s a certain truth to these emotions, don’t take addiction personally.
You have to look beyond yourself and show compassion. Anything you’re feeling, your loved one is feeling many times over. The best thing you can do is be there for them until they hit rock bottom and are ready to start over.