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Adapting to the Reality that Your Loved One is Addicted

Adapting to the Reality that Your Loved One is Addicted

Coming to terms with your loved one’s addiction can help you support and encourage her recovery

Many people refuse to believe that a friend or family member has an addiction. They may believe that their loved one will outgrow his wild ways, or that substance abuse will disappear when circumstances improve. Being unrealistic about a problem that is obvious to other people is the trademark characteristic of denial. Other forms of denial include the following problems:

  • Refusing to admit that the situation is problematic or stressful
  • Avoiding difficult facts
  • Minimizing negative consequences

Facing the reality of addiction can feel overwhelming, and it is easy to see why some individuals bury their heads in the sand to ignore drug abuse. However, the truth is that denying a problem only allows it to get worse. By covering up an addiction and shielding the addict from negative consequences, friends and family members enable addiction to grow. Common dysfunctional behaviors that perpetuate denial include the following issues:

  • Denying that the person is using drugs, or that she is chemically dependent
  • Avoiding problems to keep the peace
  • Hiding feelings of sadness and anger
  • Minimizing the damage of addiction
  • Blaming, lecturing or criticizing the addict
  • Taking on too much responsibility
  • Protecting the addict from social embarrassment
  • Feeling superior and trying to control the addict as if he were a child
  • Calling in sick for the addict
  • Loaning money that is rarely paid back
  • Cleaning up other people’s messes

Few people intentionally feed addiction, but fewer people recognize how they contribute to the addiction cycle. Answer the following questions to expose your enabling behaviors:

  • Do you resent any responsibilities you take on?
  • Do you worry that failure to do certain tasks will trigger conflict, make the addict abandon you or result in violence?
  • Do you ignore your needs to serve others?
  • Do you ignore unacceptable behavior?
  • Do you lie to hide the user’s mistakes?
  • Do you offer help that is rarely appreciated or acknowledged?
  • Do you blame others for problems instead of the one who is really responsible?
  • Do you struggle to express emotion?

Enabling addiction confuses relationships and strengthens substance abuse by diffusing the impact of natural consequences. To interact in wise, healthy ways with an addict, it is important to begin relating to people in healthy ways.Many friends and family members get help with this aspect of recovery by participating in rehab programs for the friends and family members of addicts. Through counseling, addicts’ loved ones can face anger, sadness and despair in supportive atmospheres. You can encourage sobriety if you have the right help.

Help for Addiction

If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, we can help. Admissions coordinators at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can guide you to wellness as they discuss your treatment options. Do not go it alone when support is a phone call away.