When someone is suffering from addiction, their life is profoundly affected. Eventually, you can no longer function normally in day to day life, and you may not even realize it. Addiction can alter your mind and turn you into someone else.
But what about everyone else?
Although addiction is a severe condition that impacts the addict most, it can also significantly upset or destroy the lives of those around them, too. And sadly, these people are often the addict’s closest family and friends.
So, how does addiction look from an outsider’s perspective?
Becoming the “Burden”
No one ever thinks of someone they care about as a burden, and they shouldn’t. However, the fact is that taking care of someone living with addiction can take a toll on the caretaker.
Often the people who take care of those who are suffering do so with little thought for themselves, but their mental and physical well-being may pay the price.
The Blame Game
Those closest to people struggling with addiction often wonder “why” someone becomes addicted. Despite it rarely having something to do with them, loved ones might blame themselves for what is happening.
The “what ifs” and “what did I do wrong” questions can bring anyone into a negative spiral. Blaming themselves can foster resentment, towards themselves and even towards the victim, as negative emotions need an outlet. For some addicts, scapegoating is the way they cope with their struggles with substance abuse. Understanding Scapegoating: The Blame Game and the psychology behind it explains why addicts may choose to use this mechanism rather than take responsibility or address the root cause of their issues.
For anyone in this vicious cycle, it can be essential to seek guidance from professionals, for example at a place like MCAM, where they help former addicts through the recovery process and begin repairing their relationships.
Isolation and Relationship Loss
People living with addiction tend to isolate themselves from those around them and lose interest in things they once cared about. This shift in the addict’s perspective can be a super sudden, and the people who get cut off are left reeling. It can cause a lot of strain and emotional turmoil.
A considerable part of recovery is often mending damaged relationships. All connections with others are a two-way street, so the isolation affects more than just the one withdrawing.
Addiction costs money. As the condition worsens, funds run out, and people resort to drastic measures. They may steal from people they love or beg for money from them. Even when the time comes to get help, and people willingly offer money to assist, they may end up financially strained and struggling.
The unfortunate truth is that it isn’t only your money that suffers when you have an addiction – your friends and family get caught in the crosshairs, too.
The Next Generation
If someone with an addiction is also a parent, the toll that it can take on their children is relatively high. Children feel lonely, abandoned, frightened, and can often end up with depression, anxiety, or even PTSD.
Children whose parents had an addiction are also far more likely to develop substance abuse disorders into adulthood.
Lashing Out and Abuse
It doesn’t always happen, but those who struggle with severe addictions can end up in a cycle of abuse. They may take their frustration and pent-up emotions out on those around them, even physically lashing out and causing injuries.
Abuse is not a foregone conclusion of an addiction, but it can happen. In these cases, the people that care about them may feel obligated to stick it out and end up more hurt in the process.
Final Thoughts – Striking Balance in Recovery
An addict’s main focus when recovering from addiction should be on themselves. But part of their recovery is remembering those who have also been affected by their illness. When seeking help, look for guidance in healing the damaged relationships. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible, either. There is always hope in recovery.