Family and Friends of Addicts, Part 2

Having already looked at the relationship between the recovery addict and their family and friends from the point of view of the addict, it’s time to speak to the family and friends of the addict.

For somebody who has never been a victim of substance abuse and addiction, it can be very difficult to understand the addict and their behavior.  It is not uncommon to hear such questions as: “Why don’t they just quit?” or “Don’t they care about anything aside from drugs?”  Questions such as these are reasonable for family and friends of the addict to ask.  Since they’ve never experienced addiction, they don’t have any way to truly grasp the power of addiction.

It can be helpful to provide information regarding how drugs impact the brain and change how it functions.  Understanding the way that the pleasure pathway of the brain and what addictive drugs do to it may give the loved ones of the recovering addict a dim sense of what the addict is going thru.  Information regarding the pain and discomfort that comes with terminating use of a drug may help to give them a hint of why the victim of addiction keeps going back to drug use.

It is vitally important that the family and friends of the addict not be judgmental about the victim of addiction.  It is one thing to recognize the destructive power of drugs of addiction, but it is something very different to condemn the addict.  The problem here is that we tend to judge others according to our own experiences.  It has been said, however, that we should not condemn another for falling in battle to an enemy we have never met.  In other words, we don’t know what we would have done in their shoes.  We don’t know what kind of suffering they were dealing with or what led them to use drugs in the first place.  There are all kinds of reasons why people choose to use addictive drugs.  For some, they were initially taken to help manage chronic pain and then became an addiction.  For others, mental or emotional pain was self-treated by the use of drugs.  Addictive drugs have also been used by people who suffer from social anxiety in order to help them manage social situations.  Again, you don’t truly know what you would have done if you were faced by the same problems.

As they enter into recovery, what the victim of addiction needs is support and encouragement, not condemnation.


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