The manipulations, the guilt, the ruination of relationships and the shattering of people- all are the consequences of relationships between addicts and people who love them. Being loved by someone acts only as a fuel for the addict’s addiction. The constant need to keep them safe throughout their journey of addiction might result in situations where you are giving them money you cannot afford to, saying that YES which will destroy you, lying to protect them and having goosebumps from the midnight ring of the phone. People loving addicts are very used to the feeling of the dilemma of dreading seeing them and needing to see them all at once.
You might stop liking them, but you won’t stop loving them. Loving them is simply knowing that you are going in a deep schist which will lead to your ultimate fall, but still going strong with the hope that there will be water below instead of ground, breaking your fall, leading to your survival. Waiting for the addiction to be over, his insanity to be over, is just like squashing water- pretty useless. It’s not going to happen overnight. They won’t even try to make their addiction go away. It’s not like they don’t want to. It’s just- they CANNOT!
Addiction is a disease, a disease to the character and personality of a person, a disease which does not like to part ways with its victims too easily. Since it’s a human condition, we’re all vulnerable to it. One of the headache-causing-aspects of addiction is that the few things that may help the addicts are the same things which may seem insolent and malevolent to non-addicts. The best ways of responding to addicts have an incredulous capability to wallow the people who love them, with guilt, grief, self-dubiousness, and of course, resistance.
Nobody intends for a behaviour to become an addiction, and if you are someone who loves an addict- whether it’s a parent, a child, a partner, a friend or a sibling- the guilt, the shame and the helplessness can make you down in the dumps.
When Someone You Love is an addict:-
1. You are dealing with someone different now
When an addiction holds a person with its malignant claws, the person you love disappears in another world, at least until the addiction loosens its grip. The person you love is still in there somewhere, but that’s not who you are dealing with. The reasons why you loved him- his warmth, jocularity, magnanimity, wisdom, zest to live, so many heart-melting characteristics, may not exist within the person now. This is because addiction changes people.
You are responding to him the way you used to in his ‘early days’ – but he is not that person. He is somebody else. The sooner you are able to accept the truth, the sooner you can start helping the person who you love and remember, which will mean doing to him what seems cruel and heart-wrenching. And soon, the person you remember will find his way back to you.
2. Don’t expect them to follow your logic
When an addiction holds its grip over a person, the person’s reality becomes hazed by that addiction. You need to understand that they are not in a position to comprehend the situation the way you do.
For them, lies don’t feel like lies, self-destruction doesn’t feel like it. Change won’t come through the door when you try to make sure they understand the logic of the situation. It comes when there is no other option for them but to change.
3. When you are protecting them from their own pain, you are standing in the way of their reason to stop
By loaning the addicts money, lying for them, driving them around, doing things which instead of relenting them, make them continue their addiction- you are stopping them from reaching a point where they feel crestfallen and that staying away from the addiction is a better option.
Change occurs when the force for change surpasses the force to continue being indulged in the addiction. The pain caused due to that addiction must be powerful enough to ostracize the emotional pain that drives the addiction.
4. Don’t buy their view of themselves.
Every part of the addict’s soul will believe in the non-possibility of his existence without his addiction. Do not buy it. The existence and essence of their lives lie in the absence of addiction, but they will always be skeptical about it. That is why you will have to believe in it enough for both of you. The acceptance of them not ready to move towards such absence is okay, but meanwhile don’t actively support their view of themselves as having no option but to succumb fully to their addiction.
5. When you stand your ground, things might get worse before they get better.
Allowing yourself to be manipulated, will lead to increased manipulations by the addict. When you stop conceding to manipulations, they may worsen before stopping completely. The addict may withdraw or become repugnant or despondent or may even develop some sort of illness. They’ll come to a halt when they realize your resolve, but you’ll need to be the first one to stop, to stop succumbing to their so-called needs.
6. Be patient.
Progress is the key to recovery, instead of generally-considered perfection. The journey to recovery will be made from forwarding steps, but there will be backward ones too. Do not look at a backward step as a failure. It’s not.
Recovery never happens overnight and backward steps are all part of the journey.
Let them know each and every day that you love them and have always loved them, that that love is the only thing which keeps you driving to help them get out of this hellhole- whether they believe it or not.
Saying it is as much for you, as it is for them.