The journey of an addict is treacherous, filled with darkness, despair and helplessness. For someone in the throes of addiction, it’s often difficult to see beyond the corners of his or her own world and the pain that he or she feels daily. However, it’s important to recognize that addicts are not the only ones haunted by their problems and destructive behavior – loved ones often feel deep pain, loss and helplessness watching someone spiral downhill.
For an addict who can barely come to grips with the harm drug or alcohol abuse is doing to him or herself, it can be nearly impossible to understand why a loved one might be suffering. It often takes time to heal these wounds and as someone goes through the process of rehab, it’s important that family members and friends deeply affected by an addict’s actions. Some reasons loved ones might feel resentment, hurt, pain, mistrust and hopelessness include:
- Broken promises. For someone who is constantly preoccupied with a substance, it’s difficult to understand the importance of commitments you make to other people. Whether it’s repeated promises to get clean, affirming your attendance at an event you skip or even just simple daily duties you neglect, loved ones are often left feel hurt, rejected, and angry.
- Constant stress and anxiety. Because an addict often behaves erratically and is on a constant quest for a “fix,” friends and family spend their hours worried about the danger their loved ones face while high. This anxiety can be all-consuming – in much the same way an addiction is for someone abusing substances – and distract from a daily routine, children, work and other responsibilities.
- Rejection. Oftentimes, loved ones will try to help or confront an addict about his or her substance abuse, only to be met by anger and refusal to acknowledge the problem. In extreme cases, an addict will even completely cut off a friend of family member, which can lead to further anguish and distress.
- Financial loss. It is not uncommon for addicts to steal from family members and friends to feed their addictions. Cases vary from the extreme – stealing valuable family items to resell for cash – to grabbing a few bills from someone’s wallet. Regardless of the severity and ultimate financial impact of this behavior, it feeds into the mistrust loved ones can feel at the hands of an addict and can make a person feel gullible, like an unwitting enabler, and completely taken for granted.
- Feeling like a victim of someone else’s circumstances. Many family members and close friends of addicts commit themselves to counseling and recovery programs to cope with a loved one’s addiction. For someone who feels like he or she hasn’t done anything wrong and whose life was in balance prior to a loved one’s addiction, this can be a taxing experience that might stir feelings of anger and resentment.