Separating the Person from the Addiction
Drug and alcohol dependency can quickly turn the people we know and love into something that is unrecognizable. The vibrant, responsible, and loving people that were once our friends and family are transformed into something tragic by the single-minded pursuit of alcohol and other drugs. There was a time in which we could never imagine the people that we married, grew up with, went to school or trusted stealing from us, yelling at us, or even physical assaulting us. This does, however, become a reality for thousands of families all over the country, and it can very quickly tear relationships apart if we don’t remain present and perceptive of these changes in behavior.
One of the first things we learn about our loved ones’ addictions is that it hijacks their ability to make decision for themselves. Chemical dependency transforms the brain’s chemistry and causes otherwise good people to seek their next high at all costs. Nevertheless, even when we know this, it can be hard to separate the person from the addiction and deal with the disease in an objective fashion. But if we’re truly interested in helping our loved one get recovery, it may be necessary to develop thicker skin and recognize that the person who is saying and doing all these horrible things is not actually our loved one.
As addicts, we also have to recognize our part in this struggle and to accept an outstretched hand when we see it. The reality of addiction is that it often causes sufferers to do horrible and unspeakable things to their families and there is only so much abuse a relationship can sustain. Sooner or later, even those of us with the most loving and committed of families to feel as though they have no choice but to turn their backs on us. Before it ever gets to that point, we can recognize the opportunity we have, and the virtues in our lives, and accept the help in front of us.
Each relationship that is plagued by addiction is unique and has its owns set of obstacles to overcome. One thing universal to all of these relationships, however, is that the addicts behavior is not indicative of who they are. As loved ones of sound mind, we need to recognize this, and approach our relationship from this standpoint going forward. Our relationship with our families is the most personal thing in our lives; but we need to make it less personal if we’re going to effectively save our loved ones.