Addiction Is a Health Issue: Developing Empathy for Your Addicted Loved One
Addicts need a lot of help to get clean, and jail isn’t the way to bring that about. There are other choices that can provide better success rates. However, until the people surrounding an addict see addiction the right way, very little help can be provided to him or her. Understanding how addiction works and how it is treated is the first step toward understanding a loved one who is addicted and may be struggling.
Addiction is a Disease
A person who’s dealing with addiction has a disease, just like someone who has diabetes or cancer. Unfortunately, many people fail to see an addict as someone who is battling a legitimate mental issue. Instead, he or she is seen as making bad choices or being “weak.” This is not the case; therefore, viewing addiction as a disease can help you focus on how you can help your loved one get and stay sober in the future.
Addicts Need Help and Rehab Services
Many addicts are put in jail for their drug and alcohol abuse, along with the fallout that comes with it. These addicts don’t get the help they need, so they go back to their addiction when they are released from jail. They actually need rehab services, not jail time, to help them get clean. Once they can get and stay clean, they can live better lives and help others get through addiction problems, too. Simply locking them up in jails and prisons isn’t the answer.
Seeing that Addiction is a Health Issue
If you have a loved one who is an addict, both you and that loved one must come to see addiction as a mental issue. Without doing this, the cycle of addiction and criminal behavior will just continue to be perpetuated. Fortunately, it is possible to break this cycle for anyone who is committed to doing so. Treating addiction like a true medical issue is one of the first (and biggest) steps to making a real change in the life of an addicted person.
Empathy, Not Criminality
While it can be hard to have empathy for an addicted loved one, every person has problems they must deal with. For some, it is addiction. For others, it may be something completely unrelated. No matter what a person struggles with, though, calling them a criminal is not the answer. It won’t help them get through their problems, or make them want to get clean. It will only make them continue to think that no one cares about what they are going through. It’s possible to have empathy for your loved one without enabling their addiction.
Handling the Issue from a Realistic Perspective
The best way to handle the issue is realistically. Acknowledge that your loved one has a medical issue and needs help. Make sure you work with him or her to get that help – and the sooner the better. Understand that you may have mixed feelings about your loved one, and that’s normal. Addiction can be very hard to deal with. The more you read about the issue and understand it, though, the more you can help your loved one live a better life.