Addiction is often referred to as a family disease—and for good reason. Contagious in its misery and destruction, the disease of addiction has the ability to sabotage anything we hold near and dear to our hearts.
When friends and family are affected by an addicted a loved one, it can be a confusing, infuriating, and despairing time. In its insidious and progressive way, addiction slowly erodes the meaningful aspects of life we once cherished most. Whether it’s the breaking-up of a once happy home, a necessary divorce or losing a good friend, the effects of the disease can result in serious (and sometimes irreparable) consequences.
For loved ones, these 7 things are commonly lost to the thief of addiction.
Among families, nothing may be more consistently stressful than financial uncertainty.
In active addiction, we use whatever means necessary to maintain our alcohol and/or drug use and its inherent lifestyle.
Whether it’s money to buy drugs or alcohol, money ill-spent while under the influence, money for bail, legal expenses or money for hospital bills, someone has to pay the financial toll of our addiction, and this payment is typically stolen from those closest to us.
In active addiction, we are often neglectful and end up distancing the ones we love most.
The time we used to spend with our children, our spouse or our friends is quickly replaced by spending time on our drug of choice — either using, trying to use or thinking about using.
Whether it’s a week or a decade, the time that addiction steals from our loved ones is something no one will ever get back.
When our morality hinges on feeding our addiction, we no can longer prudently control our actions or thoughts. Whether it’s taking money from our kids’ college fund or being unfaithful in a relationship, addiction quickly rips the trust away from our loved ones.
Sometimes this theft doesn’t require a particular action.
As addiction changes who we are, loved ones become wary to trust our changes. Addiction steals trust from loved ones through our moral compromises and changing personas.
Addiction destroys functioning relationships and healthy family dynamics.
The relentless stress of erratic and unpredictable behavior due to addiction causes serious riffs in our interpersonal relationships.
Some loved ones may feel responsible, some hopeless, some ignored and some infuriated. However, friends and family typically never feel peaceful while affected by addiction.
Addiction is an isolating and depressing disease; not only for those suffering from addiction but also loved ones of addicts.
As our addiction progressively grows, it quickly creates a dark shroud of shame and helpless resignation among loved ones.
The steady state of worry, anger, despair and guilt among loved ones never leaves any room for joy.
Aside from financial stability, the emotional, interpersonal and mental stress of addiction leads to the overall instability of our relationships.
As we’re blind or dismissive to growing problems, addiction commonly causes fights between spouses, increased emotional distress of family members, and weakened bonds of friendship.
After addiction begins to erode the core foundation of our relationships, it quickly begins to take the relationship’s stability from loved ones.
Once addiction has stolen everything else from a loved one, the disease finally begins to deteriorate their hope that a friend, spouse, child or parent can ever overcome their addiction.
As pleading, compromising and ultimatums prove useless, loved ones are often left with nothing but hopelessness and despair. Hope is the final thing addiction steals from loved ones.
After hope, there is nothing more addiction can take. After hope, the heartbreaking consequences of addiction are just that—consequences.
Before addiction steals everything, loved ones may need to take a proactive step back from the destruction of addiction. If interventions and pleas to attend treatment have been unproductive, removing yourself from the situation may be wise and ultimately helpful. Once the person seeks treatment and begins to recover from their addiction, loved ones can then begin to reclaim everything addiction has stolen from their own life.