CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Most families I have worked with as a counselor have an ideal of what they want their addict to be.
A person in our family group counseling at Lion’s Gate Recovery recently said, “Parents want their loved one to be what they thought they should have been in the past or what they want them to be in the future.”
This statement works for spouses as well. I’ve met many a husband or wife who says, “He wasn’t this way when we met.” Or “She was fun when we were dating.”
These statements reflect the hope that addiction will cease and the loved one will somehow come to realize their potential. This potential exists in some ethereal dimension or expected outcome.
Just the word “potential” can be interpreted as demeaning or a put-down to most addicts. It is common for families to have an expectation that their loved one will be who they used to be before using alcohol or drugs – or a new person that is “all better.” But addiction comes with a cost.
If the addicted loved one gets clean and sober, there is a good chance they will be “different.” Often I hear from family members, “They are not the same as they were before they began using drugs; they are different somehow.”
The word “different” is the manifestation of changes that have taken place in the life of the addicted person. The addict has gone to great lengths to use drugs or drink. The lengths they have gone to have a profound effect on the spirit. This effect is noticeable when in early recovery.
When using, the addict can numb their feelings and use drugs and drink to feel how they want anytime they want; this is what we refer to as the “Synthetic Spirit” theory of addition. Experienced life is not the same as the experiences of one who has been using a drug to alter their perceptions of the events. Family has a different perception of the events going on in their loved one’s life.
Get your loved one some help with treatment, and come in for family group counseling at Lion’s Gate Recovery. While family support is about gaining the understanding of addiction, more often it’s about discovering how the addiction has changed your life.
Written by AARON WARD, Lion’s Gate Recovery.
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