Pathways Wellness

Understanding That Addiction Does Not Define Your Loved One

Understanding That Addiction Does Not Define Your Loved One
Raul Haro
August 22, 2023
It can be difficult to watch your loved one struggle with addiction. It's especially true when the disorder can hurt the ones around them, not just themselves. Addiction often alters someone's mental state and behaviors, which can cause pain and sadness to those that love them. As a result, it can be hard to remember […]
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Understanding That Addiction Does Not Define Your Loved One

It can be difficult to watch your loved one struggle with addiction. It's especially true when the disorder can hurt the ones around them, not just themselves. Addiction often alters someone's mental state and behaviors, which can cause pain and sadness to those that love them. As a result, it can be hard to remember that your loved one is still the person you loved before, especially when their behavior has changed dramatically. 

It becomes more muddled when co-occurring mental health disorders are involved, or when someone is self-medicating to deal with trauma or pain. An average person, no matter how much they love the person with the addiction, can quickly become overwhelmed. This is why it's so important to seek professional help to manage the situation.

Professional help for mental health is not just for the person struggling with addiction. It's also for those that love them. Mental health care facilities like Pathways Wellness Center believe strongly that addiction treatment is a group effort as much as an individual one. Those who recover from addiction stay in recovery longer if they have a strong and understanding support network. When your loved one is struggling with addiction, you may become part of this support network. To do so requires understanding personal biases and working on changing them to be a more compassionate person.

Making Personal Changes to Destigmatize Addiction

When most people think of addiction, they often think of it as only happening to the worst of society. Somehow, that person must have done something to deserve it. However, the truth is that anyone, from any place and any background, can develop an addiction. There are many recognized causes of addiction, none of which is because a person deserved it. Nobody deserves addiction. It's not a punishment, and everyone is deserving of care.

Remembering this can be difficult when faced with the negative outcomes of your loved one's addiction. It's painful to watch someone you care about become unrecognizable in their behavior and actions. Though difficult, you must remember that this is your loved one. They are still here but need help and compassion. Many times, people refuse to go to treatment because they are worried about being judged or berated. You can help by becoming a person they can trust to not kick them while they are down. Be encouraging, kind, and compassionate.

This does not mean that you should allow someone to harm you. That is not healthy. You can still set boundaries to protect yourself while being supportive and understanding. If you need to take a step back, that's okay. But be sure to remind your loved one that you still care about them and want them to get help. Remind them that you believe in them and that they can recover with professional help.

When someone finishes addiction treatment and stays sober, they are then in recovery. Recovery is not a cure and comes with several life changes to help someone remain in recovery. Some of these changes must be learned and practiced by the person's support network to prevent a relapse. For example, if someone has recovered from alcoholism, do not invite them to bars or pressure them into having an alcoholic beverage. Doing so can not only cause a relapse, but it displays a lack of understanding of someone's needs.  

It's important to celebrate the achievements of your loved one once they achieve recovery. Recovery is difficult and takes an immense amount of personal work on the part of your loved one. Be sure to remind them that you are proud. However, it's also equally important to remind them too that you will always love them. Treat them as you always had, with patience, understanding, and compassion.  

Utilizing Professional Help to Understand Your Loved One

It's hard to know how to separate the addiction from the loved one. Even when someone has achieved recovery, there is the knee-jerk reaction to treat them as though they are fragile or are seconds away from a relapse. Learning the balance between setting healthy boundaries and being supportive is hard, even at the best of times. That's why it's important to seek the help of a professional.

Pathways Wellness Center has many programs made to bridge the gap between clients and loved ones. The goal is to further understanding, education, and destigmatization. One important program is known as family therapy. Family doesn't just mean your blood relatives. It can also be friends and others whom someone loves and trusts. This type of therapy brings both family and clients together and helps not only communicate the client's needs but teaches the family how to be supportive in a healthy way. It's a safe place to ask questions and set boundaries under the supervision of a mental health care professional. 

Someone may also seek individual therapy to help them work through their own biases as well. There is no shame in seeking therapy for a mental health issue, especially when it comes to navigating difficult situations. Pathways have many staff members who are in recovery, so it's easy to ask questions from those who have experienced the addiction treatment process.

Regardless if your loved one is currently struggling with addiction or in recovery, remember that they are someone you love. Encourage them to seek help when they need it. Be compassionate. Tell them often that you love them and want them to be happy. The support you give now can make a real difference in your loved one's life, both during and after treatment.

When a loved one is struggling with addiction, it's important to support them. However, it's equally important to understand that a person is not defined by their addiction. It can be difficult to learn how to separate the addiction from the person, but thankfully there are resources to help you. Here at Pathways Wellness Center in Glendora, California, we don't just help those struggling with addiction. We also help their friends and family further understand and support them through therapy and psychoeducation. Anyone entering our facility can expect high-quality treatment and compassionate, friendly staff. If you or a loved one is in need of help because of addiction, don't wait. Call us today at (888) 771-0966.

About the Author

Raul Haro
Raul Haro is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with sixteen years of experience working in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. As an LMFT, He has trained in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR. Raul has furthered his training in the drug and alcohol field by obtaining a Masters in Drug and Alcohol Counseling through CCAPP. Raul has a background in nursing where he has been an LVN for over 25 years. Recently, he has returned to school to complete a degree in Registered Nursing. Future plans are for Raul are to eventually complete a degree as a Nurse Practitioner combining his therapy practice with his nursing skills.

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