Your loved one is an addict, and your patience has been stretched so thin it’s exceedingly fragile.
Perhaps you’ve witnessed firsthand the temper associated with your loved one’s substance use; or maybe they display verbal aggression every time they attempt to abstain. Your personal interactions with them can be awkward due to their fluctuating mood and emotions.
Understandably, you might struggle to remain calm and supportive all the time. You long to deliver compassion, but your supportive efforts usually go unappreciated. You’re often left feeling worried for their health and resentful because of their actions and behavior.
How to Understand an Addict
The positive effects your supportive efforts have on your addicted loved one are irreplaceable. However, their willingness to vocalize their gratitude for your encouragement can often get lost in their maladaptive decision patterns.
Your loved one’s substance of choice has fundamentally altered their brain’s chemistry. In turn, cognitive processes like judgement, rational and empathy are severely diminished. Your loved one’s mind is only focused on one thing: feeding their addiction at any cost. This can cause them to act selfish, rude, short-sighted and more. As their loved one, you bear the brunt of each negative consequence of their addiction.
There’s a biblical passage to turn the other cheek when we are wronged, but showing compassion for a loved one’s burden is just as scripturally appropriate.
Galatians 6:2 encourages us to do this exact thing, regardless if we are receiving praise for our efforts.
Take the time to calm your emotions and remind yourself of the positive impact your compassion has on your addicted loved one. Your kindness, consideration and concern can go a long way.
Most importantly, your compassionate efforts may be the difference between your loved one’s sustained sobriety and relapse. Never underestimate the positive impact your compassion can have on your loved one.
How to Show Empathy for Drug Addicts
Whether your loved one is struggling to admit they have a problem or is ready to get help, you can show compassion at any stage of the addiction process.
Here are three ways you can support your loved one regardless of where they are in their own journey.
1. Don’t Just Listen to Them, Genuinely Hear What They Have to Say
Dealing with an addict can be difficult for a number of reasons. Their substance use can cause them to act irrationally or display erratic behaviors while intoxicated. Their memory, emotional perspective and mental processes can also be affected by their use.
Learning to listen to your loved one while they are communicating in a sober state can be an extremely revealing interaction. They may take this time to disclose personal hardships they’re experiencing or divulge personal goals they still long to achieve.
Making efforts to actively listen throughout these interactions can provide insight that may assist in their recovery process.
2. Practice Patience
Patience is truly a virtue when it comes to dealing with an addicted loved one.
The disease of addiction is a constant battle for those living within its grasp. Nearly 60% of addicts who attempt rehabilitation treatment end up relapsing at some point. This can lead to frustrations and hopelessness for loved ones living through the process with them.
Having supportive family members who are patient throughout their loved one’s addiction and/or recovery journey provides unparalleled encouragement when addicts need it most.
The frustrations associated with their addiction are ever present in their minds. Knowing that their social support network is there to lift them up when they fall may be the difference in giving up and pressing through setbacks.
3. Learn to Appreciate Persistence, Not Perfection
The ups and downs associated with both addiction and rehabilitation can be akin to a rollercoaster surging upward one second and plunging downward the next.
For your loved one, learning to process the high’s and low’s associated with their disease can be
disorienting in nature and overwhelming to face alone. They will get knocked down at times. The question is whether a loved one will be there to help them stand tall again.
No one living with addiction and participating in rehab will be perfect throughout their journey.
Persistence is so important to the overall success of the entire process. By learning to deal with the inevitable stumbles associated with addiction and recovery, your loved one can learn to overcome obstacles and rise up to face another day.
No one ever conquered their addiction in a single day, and no one should have to endure the hardships of this disease alone.
Lamentations 3:22-23 states that the faithful love of the Lord never ends.
Take this perspective and apply it to your loved one. This will ensure that their journey throughout addiction and rehab will never be faced in isolation.
Compassionate Addiction Recovery and Relapse Prevention at Covenant Hills
Showing compassion and encouragement to your addicted loved one are simple techniques that require genuine thought and purposeful effort. Providing these supports will not guarantee that they will achieve permanent success or total sobriety, but they will undoubtedly help them along the way.
Tomorrow is guaranteed to no man and the actions we display today will reverberate throughout the rest of our lives.
At Covenant Hills, we believe that every effort made to help an addict recover and support them throughout their difficult times is an effort that goes beyond ourselves. When your loved one is ready to get clean, an all-encompassing rehab program that’s lead by experienced, compassionate addiction experts can help them realize their potential and quit their substance use.
U.S. News and World Report. Why Do Alcoholics and Addicts Relapse So Often? Accessed August 1, 2018. https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2017-04-24/why-do-alcoholics-and-addicts-relapse-so-often.