Addiction Vs Love?
When a loved one is addicted, they might begin stealing from you, lying to you, and all around not being the same person they once were towards you. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you. Find out what is really going on inside their head.
One of the most perplexing questions that people who love addicts can’t seem to figure out is – why does the addiction seem stronger than love? An alcoholic continues to drink, even while ignoring the pleas of a loved one to stop. A heroin addict overdoses, even when she has promised to never use drugs again. There are countless cases of betrayal, unnecessary harm, and even untimely death which result from addiction coming between loved ones.
Though you might think love would be more powerful than any substance, there is no way to avoid the biological effects of addiction. Reward centres in the brain have become so strongly connected to the addictive behaviour, that it becomes automatic. The addict’s brain is wired to choose the addiction, even while loved ones stand beside, prepared to help. So, help is often rejected by the addict.
There is, however, an even more tragic consequence of addiction. In many cases, because the reward centres of the addict’s brain have been programmed to seek a harmful behaviour, when a loved one challenges that behaviour – the addict might start to view that person as an enemy. In this way, the ones that care most about the addict – and who most want to help him or her – are actually pushed away.
Given the choice between being an enemy or ignoring the damage of the addiction, many people choose the latter. It is hard to say “no” in a “yes” oriented culture. We want to please the people in our lives, even when their pleasure is actually harmful. And so, we often engage in co-dependent or enabling behaviour. Both are ultimately harmful to the addict, and harmful to our own sense of self.
Though it can be challenging, it is possible to create healthy relationships with those engaging in unhealthy behaviours. The key is to set healthy boundaries. Boundaries pertain to those behaviours you find acceptable for yourself, and the behaviours of others towards and around you. It’s important to set these boundaries in advance and to stick by them, explaining them if necessary.
Furthermore, it may be necessary to establish consequences if and when the boundaries are violated. To be clear, the purpose of consequences is not to punish, but rather to communicate the importance of your boundaries. As such, one effective consequence is creating more space when a boundary has been transgressed. Though it may be difficult at the time to follow through with a consequence, doing so demonstrates that you are serious about the boundaries you have set.
The Cabin Chiang Mai is a residential addiction treatment centre offering holistic, research-based recovery. If you are concerned about addiction, please contact one of our specialists today.