Why It’s Important for Families to Separate the Addiction from the Addict

Posted by | Alcohol and Drug Use, Treatment Programs | February 12, 2016

People can do some wildly horrible things when they are high on drugs. They can steal, cheat, lie, commit suicide or even homicide. Yet, ultimately, if they are using drugs or alcohol on a regular basis, you could say that it’s the addiction that’s responsible for it. It’s the illness that has hijacked their brain to cause them to do things they might not otherwise do. The problem is that when friends and families are betrayed by their loved ones because of addiction, they easily lose their desire to be of support. Yet, some friends and families might have a glimmer of hope for their loved one. And to do this, they must separate the addiction from the addict.

On some level, you could say that a person is always responsible for their actions. And if you follow this line of thinking strictly, then there won’t be any room to forgive, assist, and facilitate healing. To be clear, forgiving your loved one or letting bygones be bygones doesn’t mean enabling their addiction. It simply means that you’re willing to see your friend or family member as someone with an illness and not hold anything against them personally. Furthermore, separating the addiction from the addict doesn’t mean that you’re willing to let your addicted loved one step all over you. you can still maintain your boundaries. You might have to ask your loved one to move out or you might have to stop giving them money. You might have to ask your friend to stop coming around. Protecting yourself, your family, and your belongings doesn’t mean that you’re going against your loved one.

When someone is ill, they are not in their right mind. They might make poor choices, have distorted perceptions, and lose the ability to care for themselves. Ideally, you might help your loved one get addiction treatment. However, you can’t force them into it. They’ll need to get their on their own. In the meantime, you can provide support in the following ways:

Be available. One of the greatest ways you can send the message you care is by simply being around. You might have to set a boundary for yourself and spend time with your friend or loved one only when he or she is sober.

Listen. Give your full attention to your friend and allow them to speak without interruption.

Be compassionate. It’s hard to really know what someone else is going through. Because certain feelings are universal, you might be able to use your compassionate and loving heart to comfort your friend.

Lend a hand. You can show your support by going over to your loved one’s home and doing the dishes or starting a load of laundry. You might also cook or buy them dinner.

Be patient. It’s likely that you want them to get into treatment today. However, it’s ultimately going to have to be when your loved one is ready. Even if you have an intervention, he or she may or may not go into treatment. Patience will facilitate accepting the situation as it is, even though it’s difficult.

Lastly, you might have to get support for yourself. Groups such as Al-anon can help relatives and friends cope with the many challenges of addiction among those they love.

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