There are not many examples in life where a person could be more out of control than in the midst of a serious addiction. It is all consuming, devastating and the completely dominant influence on that person’s life. It can control all of their actions and everything they say – people in rehab programs say that the drug’s pull convinced them to do anything and everything to get that next fix.
The person who you once knew is not the same person who was addicted, and they won’t be the same person after the addiction either. That’s the first thing to understand. Going through an addiction and everything that might go along with it – theft, jail time, abuse – changes a person. It also changes their friends and family. Addiction isn’t something that just affects the drug user. It affects every single person that cares about them as well. For this reason, supporting a recovering addict after everything they’ve been through is a huge challenge.
It Starts With Forgiveness
One of the first things you need to do before thinking of anything else is to forgive. You have to forgive the person for everything they’ve done, for actions they may have taken, crimes committed, and terrible things that may have been said or done to you. You don’t have to forget, but you need to forgive. It’s the only way that either of you can move forward.
What your loved one did while under the influence of drugs was not truly them. Yes, they were probably the ones who decided to start something that developed into that all consuming addiction – but once that addiction took hold, it held the reins of their life. It had complete control, and everything that person did was just an errand to follow the drug’s orders.
Once forgiveness is given, both you and the former addict will be able to start anew, in a relationship that is free from the domineering influence of the drug. Don’t expect things to go back to how they were before the drug took hold of them. Instead, start a new relationship, with the understanding that this person went through something incredibly traumatic yet still, sometimes miraculously, came out of it alive.
But don’t overestimate that strength. Even after an addiction is conquered, the temptation still remains deep within that person. Because of this, one of the best things you can do to support a recovering addict is to make sure that they are nowhere near the drug, any people who condone using it or who are using drugs. Do everything in your power to make sure they live a clean life, free of any relationships with people who use any kind of drugs. Help them find new ways to deal with stress: new hobbies, goals and aspirations. Stay positive. While keeping your loved one clean is not your responsibility, it is theirs, everything you can do to keep them clean is part of the deal if you are going to forgive them and try to move on.
Getting over an addiction isn’t an overnight process – not for the addict and not for loved ones affected by the addict either. It’s something that takes time, and it’s a long road. But with forgiveness, patience and the ability to be supportive to someone who may have done a lot of wrong in the past, it’s a journey that is going to have a much happier ending.