Watching someone you love suffer under the effects of addiction is hard. Guilt, frustration, and fear make it difficult to know what to do to help- or if you even should. You’re not alone: millions of families across the United States are fighting the same battles and facing the same uncertainty.
One thing the family and friends of people in recovery need to understand is exactly what addiction means: what it is and what it isn’t.
Addiction IS a disease. It’s a disorder of the mind that affects all aspects of one’s life, altering personalities and twisting priorities to feed itself. It affects the biochemical composition of the brain and impacts others aspects of one’s physical and mental health. But just like other diseases, it can be overcome with intervention and proper treatment. Addiction does not have to be the end.
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Addiction IS NOT a moral judgement. It doesn’t develop because someone is a bad person or morally corrupt. Substance abuse disorders can and do affect people from all walks of life, from the pauper to the CEO. Instead of looking for a flaw or fault to place blame on your loved one, focus on the healing and support.
Addiction IS a symptom of other underlying problems. While severing ties to illicit substances is a vital step, addressing the issues at its root is the only way to establish and maintain long term sobriety. Rather dealing with past traumas or an undiagnosed mental health disorder, the healing process is more than just quitting drinking or drug abuse.
Addiction IS NOT just a cry for attention. The misconception that substance abuse and other forms of self-harm is a ploy for attention is dangerous. It creates an environment in which your loved one no longer feels they can be open about their struggles. Downplaying the significance of substance abuse opens the door to dangerous situations including overdose and death.
Addiction recovery IS an opportunity. As the support system of your loved one, you can help them view their addiction in a more positive light: as an opportunity. Help your loved one use recovery as the springboard into a brighter future. Encourage them to always keep moving forward and make sure they know you are there for support and help if they stumble.