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Loving An Addict

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michaele-imgBy: Michael Elgersma

If someone you love is living with an addiction you may have felt, thought and done everything to try to help the situation that you could possibly feel, think or do.  And perhaps you have watched this person become someone unrecognizable to you and to themselves, a far cry from the person you knew before the addiction took control of his or her life.

Perhaps you have watched this loved one begin experimenting, rationalizing their behavior or denying there is a problem.  Then, before long, they began to display erratic behavior and significant mood swings, leaving you to feel an overwhelming mixture of anger and worry.

Perhaps they have made attempts to get help. Maybe you have made several frantic attempts to help them, trying to comprehend what is happening to them… but you are beginning to feel bleak and hopeless.

When someone you love is an addict, this may lead you to experience a wide range of feelings, including anxiety and depression. There are no easy answers to help with what you are experiencing, but there are small things you can do to help yourself.

It is important to realize where you might be able to establish boundaries for yourself. Many times we enable those we love, and we can often help too much. We might begin making excuses for them, bending over backward to care for them or attempting to protect them beyond our capabilities.

It is difficult to make sense of addiction and to understand the difficult path of recovery. Addiction involves feeding a craving while also involving a compulsion. Addiction is both emotional and physical. An addict is not responsible for their condition, while at the same time they are the only one responsible.

There is only so much you can do. And when you feel as though you have done everything, it might be necessary to accept that only the addict can make the change necessary in their life.  Unfortunately, it might be necessary to learn to let them go and trust that they will figure things out.  This is a relationship that might need boundaries: independence, acceptance, compassion and love.

There is no guaranteed outcome with regards to addiction, and statistics often seem almost meaningless. Rehabilitation involves understanding how the addiction is the problem and, also, how the addiction helps the person deal with the problem.  To the addict, their addiction and recovery is something very personal.  It is necessary to work to understand the addict’s problem, their personal experience and the circumstances surrounding the addiction.

The nature of addiction and the affect addiction has on someone you love is difficult in so many ways.  But there is hope.  At Stenzel Clinical Services we believe in hope, despite even the most difficult of circumstances.

If you or someone you know has a loved one living with addiction please contact us if you would like to work through how the addiction might be affecting you.