Dealing with the Pain, Anger and Fear of Having an Addicted Loved One

Dealing with the Pain, Anger and Fear of Having an Addicted Loved One

Addiction affects every person around the addict, but there are ways to overcome this struggle

An addiction affects more than just the addict. It affects every person around the addict as feelings of pain, anger and fear infiltrate. Broken promises grow into a total lack of trust and then expand into an assumption of disappointment. Before you know it, you find yourself thinking the worst of your loved one because you have been deeply wounded by their choices. Even though you are not the addict, you are left to pick up the pieces left behind by their busted life, but there are ways to overcome this struggle.

Start With Acknowledging the Truth

A common stumbling block for many trying to deal with the pain and rejection from an addicted loved one is admitting there is a problem. Often, this denial is out of a sense of shame. In this case the thoughts that accompany this refusal to acknowledge the pain sound like the following:

  • My son is struggling with much more important things than me.
  • I need to just grow up. This is not a big deal.
  • If I really loved her, I wouldn’t be angry with her.

The simple truth is that until you accept and acknowledge that you have pain, anger and fear for your loved one because of the addiction, you will never be able to make progress toward emotional health in your own life.

Break Free From Isolation

Once you have accepted that you have unresolved pain, the next step is to begin to carefully and selectively share with people outside your family circle. This can be difficult to do particularly if there is not a great awareness of the addiction outside your family, but it’s a vital step nonetheless. Your mind will tell you that you’re the only one feeling this way and that there’s something wrong with you for taking this personal, but the truth is that it’s completely normal.

As you begin to talk with others who have experienced this type of disappointment and trauma, you will begin to see that this response is completely acceptable. Indeed, it is an important first step toward your own health. However, breaking free from isolation is likely not enough.

Develop Healthy Habits to Manage Your Emotions

There are a variety of tools individuals can use when faced with high emotions including the following;

  • Exercise – Any type of physical exertion allows the body to burn through excess energy. If the exercise is a solitary one like running, swimming or working out, this also provides space and time to figure out what is stirring the emotions.
  • Journaling – Many recoil from journaling because it is often equated with a junior high girl and her diary, but the truth is that journaling is a very effective way to privately work through challenging moments in order to come to some sort of meaningful closure.
  • Find a support group – Whether this is a 12-Step Program, a group of friends or a community group, having people to lean on in tough times is vital. Nobody can live this life alone, and having a support group is a great preventative measure. One group that will be particularly relevant for you will be AL-ANON. These groups are built around the understanding that addiction affects everyone in the family, not just the addict. One consideration would be to take one of the provided by AL-ANON to see if the group would be a good fit for you.
  • Let it out – Whether a deep sobbing cry or a cathartic explosion against a punching bag, sometimes the best thing to do when faced with overwhelming circumstances is to let your emotions loose.

With the Right Tools You Can Step Back Into Health

It can be aggravating at a deep level to deal with the fact that your loved one’s choices around addiction have had such a significant impact on your life. Choosing to ignore the pain or shine over the anger you feel because of it is not the path to a healthy life.

You may come to realize that it is time for you to seek professional help. There are seasons where exercising or journaling are just not enough. There are moments when there is no catharsis but only unending emotional turmoil. When you find yourself in this season, this is when you should seek professional help. The help could be in the form of a counselor or psychologist. However, the bottom line is that when life becomes too much to deal with, help is available, and you should seek it out.

The best news in all of this is that you are not alone. Whenever you are ready to make the changes you need to make to recover mental and emotional health, there is support available. We can help you. We can answer your questions. The counselors at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can help you learn more. They can help you find your way. Please call now.