Addiction is a lonely disease.
When at first you have a happy family and a great relationship and social life, once addiction hits, things can change for the worst dramatically. Addiction isolates you to your family and friends, the people who love you, and then ultimately kill you. This is the reality for many addicts, unless they seek help and decide to stay sober.
As you progress through your addiction, the more that your family life deteriorates. The more you move away from your relationships, from the people who once mattered to you. Your behavior changes, your moods become erratic and extreme, and you can even become violent. There’s no amount of loving and begging that can make you stop from what you are doing as you chase one high, one hit, after another, and another, and another…
Addicts Feel a Certain Uniqueness
“How in the world would they ever understand me?”
This, among many other similar thoughts, would often be in the minds of addicts. They feel that they are unique, in a way that their loved ones couldn’t understand. After all, the rest of their friends and family members live a life different from theirs, without the troubled thoughts, secrecy, and compulsion.
This belief that they are unique progresses to an extreme form of self-centeredness, which may come from some trauma or deep-seated pain. They think they are different, and no one can understand what they are going through. Once the addict can see that there are people who also have the same troubles or pasts as them but are sober, then they can potentially have their own breakthrough for positive change.
“Frothy” Emotional Appeals
According to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, frothy emotional appeals from loved ones, such as words and pleadings that are usually emotional in nature, would not penetrate the mind of an alcoholic or an addict. What is more effective in convincing an addict to see start to see their problems and somehow start to turn things around, is if they get a straightforward conversation from someone who has gone through it all like them, an alcoholic or addict who have become sober or are recovering.
When the addict talks with someone who has gone through what they have gone through, their minds and hearts are more open. They see this fellow addict as something who has had the same thoughts, attitudes, behaviors, and compulsions. This is why 12 Steps and support groups or fellowships are important. With the help and support of their peers, they can cut through the so-called “froth” and dive deep into the heart of the matter, the addiction and how to get out of it.
Toughing it out
Tough love is a phrase often used in addiction and recovery. It is because the way loved ones see loving the addict can often be the cause for them to enable and prolong the addiction. They cannot love the addict into recovery. Therefore, tough love is necessary for the addict to see that they have a problem and that there are serious consequences to their actions and addictions.
Tough love doesn’t mean hurting the addict, but making them uncomfortable in their own addiction.
Another way to show tough love is when one addict, most often a recovering addict, talks to another. This conversation will be an insightful one because the addict would hear his or her own story straight out of someone else’s mouth, and this can be rough and tough. They will hear things–truths–that they don’t want to hear or have tried to sweep under the rug for the sake of their addiction. Once this turning point happens, healing is possible and can therefore start to happen.
If you need more information on tough love, read our article here.
Meanwhile, if you need someone to talk to regarding your own or a loved one’s addiction, we’re here to help you choose the treatment options that are right for you.