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What Addicts Want You to Know

Published on October 1st, 2014

An addiction affects more than just the addict. Both the addict and their loved ones feel pain and stress. One of the hardest parts about recovering is communicating with those they love most.

Addicts don’t want to feel alone; they want to feel loved. They don’t want you to talk at them; they want you to talk with them. They don’t want you to criticize; they want you to understand.

The stress from addiction recovery clouds reasoning. It is hard for addicts to admit their feelings. So, here are some things most addicts wish you knew.

Don’t try and fix it all at once.

Imagine trying to play tennis, but every time you go to hit the ball, you miss. It is easy to feel frustrated or discouraged. Similarly, addicts can rarely break a habit on the first try. After trying for so long they begin to grow disheartened. Loved ones often want to jump in and try to fix everything.

What loved ones see as encouraging, addicts may see as deadlines and impending broken promises. They want to end the addiction, but can’t do so on your schedule.

The road to recovery may take months or years, and the more stress loved ones put on fixing the problem right now, the more overwhelming addicts can feel. They may not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Addicts recover one step at a time. It is important to have patience. Addicts will feel more understanding from patience than any kind of goal-driven timeline. Encourage without pressure and they will grow to trust your support and opinions.

They don’t want to hurt you.

Having an addiction is hard enough, but making those you love suffer from your addiction is even worse. Addicts can see your struggles and they know when they are the cause. They don’t want to hurt you. To cope, some addicts find solace in distancing themselves to avoid hurting anyone else.

Addiction recovery patients may act out in hate to express feelings of guilt. They feel guilty because they can’t control themselves and their actions are hurting loved ones. The only solution may seem to cut off their emotions to everyone.

You have a right to be hurt. It is normal to feel pain from seeing an addict suffer. But understand that showing your pain to them may only cause more stress.

Rather than turning to the addict for emotional release, find other ways to cope with stress. You can go to the gym, listen to music, or read a book to find relief. Show love by listening. When it gets overwhelming, take a break from trying to work out the issue. Accept that you can only do so much.

They don’t want to talk, but need to.

Addicts may struggle admitting they have a problem. They may prefer to live a normal life and have a side secret that no one knows about. Many addicts think if you knew what they did, you wouldn’t see them the same way. They’re also afraid people will judge them because they don’t live up to expectations. Thus, they don’t want anyone to know their secret.

Secrets lead to silence. Addicts may believe that saying nothing is better than admitting the truth. They are afraid of life changes that would come from others finding out about their addiction.

Silence brings tension. As silence grows in your relationship, confusion and distance may arise. Addicts may hesitate to share feelings for fear of being misunderstood or judged. Expressing their feelings takes courage.

Remember, your loved one is inhibited without support. Make sure they know you care; show them support by listening without judgment. Don’t pressure them into talking, but be available for when they are ready. Understand they may feel embarrassed to admit their struggles.

They need you.

Addicts may not want to admit it, but they need your support. Criticizing, lecturing, or engaging in your own addictions is not constructive. The support they need from you is relief, refuge, and solace. Don’t force yourself on them; let them come to you.

Your loved one needs something constant and trustworthy. As they open up about their needs, listen with an open mind. They may ask you to change behaviors that they feel enable their addiction. Do your best to be constructive, not accusing.

The most important part of your support is your trust. Do not share with others the things they tell you in confidence. A simple comment made in a group can sever that bond you have built. Treat their personal information with respect.

Be yourself and treat your loved one as a friend. Let them see your desire to help. After all, the most important thing you can offer to addicts is love. Addicts can feel worthless, and knowing someone sees them as valuable can be life changing.

Remember, your support is irreplaceable. Use these tips to make a difference as your loved one tackles the road to addiction recovery.

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