Dealing with the Pain, Anger and Fear of Having an Addicted Loved One

Dealing with the Pain, Anger and Fear of Having an Addicted Loved One

Addiction affects many more people than addicts. Friends and loved ones often experience tremendous amounts of pain and hardship just for being in the proximity of this disease. Learning effective and healthy ways to deal with the pain and fear associated with a loved one’s addiction is critical for your own mental and emotional health.

What Is Codependency?

The close friends and loved ones of someone who has become physically and psychologically dependent on drugs or alcohol often experience a condition known in recovery circles as co-dependency. It is called co-dependency because even though these people may not be addicted to the same substances as the addict, they nonetheless become trapped in self-destructive, ineffective, and painful behavioral patterns.

The following are some of the most common symptoms of codependency:

  • Constantly making excuses for the addict
  • Regularly “bailing out” the addict with financial help
  • Providing a place for the addict to stay when he or she needs it
  • Blaming oneself for the addict’s behavior
  • Constantly trying to “fix” the addict
  • Taking out frustration on others instead of the addict

Even something as seemingly innocent as listening to the constant complaints and rants of an addicted loved one can, in a way, be a form of enabling. The love you feel for the addict in your life causes you to want to help however you can. That is a natural, normal, and good instinct. The problem, however, is that many of the things you think are helping are actually contributing negatively to the situation. Providing a place to sleep, even, can prevent an addict from experiencing the full repercussions of his or her destructive behavior. Many addicts must hit “rock bottom” before really experiencing recovery. Anything that loved ones do to soften the blow of that rock bottom, or to provide a softer landing, is a form of enabling and codependency.

The fact remains, however, that the behavior of the addict in your life does cause you pain, anguish, and suffering. Lashing out is not helpful. Neither is burying your feelings and pretending that everything is fine. There is a healthy way to deal with the pain and anger that you feel and if you don’t find out how to do that there is a good chance that your loved one’s addiction will continue to haunt you and ruin your life. It might even lead you down the same terrible road that has consumed the addict you love.

How to Cope with a Loved One’s Addiction

A special type of counseling and support is available for those close to an addict. Through individual sessions, family counseling meetings, and support group gatherings you can learn how best to love the addict in your life without contributing to his or her disease. Programs such as Al-Anon and Alateen are specially designed to provide encouragement, inspiration, and guidance to the parents, siblings, children, and friends of alcoholics and drug addicts. Through group sharing, special speakers, and other educational resources, these programs attempt to help you cope with your loved one’s disease in the following ways:

  • Learning to recognize codependent behavior
  • Hearing inspiring stories of recovery and healing
  • Learning the difference between love and pity
  • Recognizing low self-esteem and working to repair it
  • Taking responsibility
  • Recognizing the ways in which your relationships are sick and dysfunctional
  • Not allowing the addict’s disease to define you

Many people have found that having a safe place to share their feelings of fear and pain with others who understand and have experienced the same things can be a powerful experience in and of itself. The loved ones of addicts tend to feel isolated and alone. Al-Anon and Alateen meetings are an excellent way to find community and friendship when you need it most.

24 Hour Helpline

The most important thing right now is for you to find someone to talk to. The emotions that result from being close to an addict can become toxic very quickly. Maybe the addict in your life has been trapped by the disease for years. Maybe this is a relatively new experience. Either way, you need help. You need someone to share your emotions with. You need to hear words of encouragement and support.

Our toll-free helpline is open all day and night, seven days a week, and is staffed by caring professionals who are ready to listen and help. Call right now and let us help you with the following free services:

  • Confidential answers to all of your questions about addiction, recovery, and codependency
  • Information about the most successful treatment programs for your loved one
  • Access to high quality support groups and codependency prevention services
  • Information about Al-Anon and Alateen meetings in your area

You cannot fix the addict you love. You are not responsible for his or her addiction. You are right to feel the pain that you feel. Addiction is a horrible disease. It changes the personality of the addict and the people surrounding her. Don’t let yourself go down with that ship. We can help. Call now.