Providing support to a loved one who is dealing with an addiction to drugs or alcohol can be emotionally, physically and even financially draining. It can be difficult to keep a healthy perspective and remind yourself that the experience you’re going through has been shared by many others.
Although each person’s experience with addiction is unique, there are some common shared realities associated with the disease.
1. Addiction Isn’t a Choice
It may be fair to say that your loved one who is now struggling with addiction made the choice to pick up their first drink or use their first drug. However, many people use alcohol or drugs throughout their life without becoming dependent or addicted. Addiction isn’t a choice, but the result of many biological, physiological, emotional, and even social aspects that can make an individual particularly vulnerable to a variety of substances.
2. You Can’t Cure Your Loved One’s Addiction
If you have a loved one struggling with substance abuse, you may feel guilty or helpless when you find that you’re powerless to cure their addiction. The truth is that addiction is a complicated disease that can’t be cured with just love and support.
Enrolling in a treatment program and following a personalized treatment plan designed by addiction professionals who understand the individual’s unique needs is a necessary step in managing substance use. Having the support of friends and family while fulfilling the treatment plan can increase an individual’s chances of long-term success.
3. Treatment Doesn’t Guarantee Success
You may feel relieved once the person in your life suffering from addiction finally accepts treatment. It can be tempting to believe that once they finish the course of treatment, their addiction will be gone and life will return to normal. However, entering a treatment program doesn’t necessarily guarantee success or sobriety, although it’s a great first step on the road to recovery and indicates that an individual has at least some willingness to receive help.
4. Relapse Is Normal
One of the most unfortunate truths of addiction is that relapse is normal. However, it’s good to consider this fact if your loved one relapses after a period of sobriety, especially following treatment. Addiction is a chronic disease that can be managed—not cured—and relapse isn’t a moral failure. Long-term sobriety is possible, but most people struggle with ups and downs throughout their recovery. If someone in your life relapses, you may suggest they return to treatment or pursue a higher level of outpatient care.