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Helping our community advocate for those struggling with Substance Use Disorder


You're Not So Different: 5 Emotions Addicts and Loved Ones Share

Posted by mwvaddictionresource on March 9, 2016 at 4:40 PM

Compliments of DrugAbuse.com

Spouses, family members, friends, and coworkers are often flooded with emotions as they watch someone they care deeply about struggle in the grip of addiction. But here’s something you may not realize: many of the emotions a loved one feels are the same emotions an addict feels. Even though an addict and their loved one may seem to be polar opposites, the truth is they’re not so different after all. Loved ones of addicts are frequently paralyzed by guilt. Parents often wonder if they failed to raise their child properly, while family members, spouses, or friends may ask themselves what they could have done differently to prevent the addiction.


Because guilt is such a painful and powerful emotion, people often try to make up for it by enabling the addict, which only complicates matters. More than any other emotion, shame tries to strip away our worthiness. It tries to convince us that we are somehow a lesser person just because of our situation. And it’s the major reason many people with substance use disorders and mental illnesses hesitate to seek the treatment they so desperately need. While the reasons behind the emotions may be different, the internal chaos brought about by those emotions is the same; and it can be just as debilitating to both parties.


The inability to solve a loved one’s addiction can be maddening. At the same time, the addict feels helpless, too. Their substance of choice has hijacked their body and mind, and they are no longer in control. Because they feel powerless, it’s not uncommon for them to simply accept their situation, no matter how dire it is.


Which is why you can’t blame them. Addicts may feel like they’ve failed to live up to expectations—either their own or a loved one’s—and that their life is a disappointment. Or they may be sad about opportunities they’ve missed out on because of their addiction. Whatever the reasons, an addict’s life can be wrought with sadness.


No matter how simple or complex the perceived threats are, they are all very real to the person feeling them. Fear can negatively impact the thinking and decision-making of addicts and loved ones alike, and can lead to irrational and impulsive behavior.

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