When your loved one begins treatment for substance abuse, they will begin a long healing process. They will work to uncover the reasons why they use substances and how to cope without them. This will most likely involve the processing of painful emotions and experiences. You may need to undergo your own healing journey as well. 

What You Are Healing From

Substance abuse can bring up complicated emotions and experiences even for people who are not using substances. You may have thought that you would never have some of these emotions addressed. As a result, you might have tried to push them down. Unfortunately, you can only avoid that pain for so long before it builds up.

Healing From Anger

One of the prevailing emotions that occurs when you love someone struggling with substance abuse is anger. This can be anger directed at your loved one because of the detrimental impact their addiction is having. It can seem like what they are doing is a choice because they are able to see that their substance use is harming not only them but the people around them. If they are seemingly unable to recognize those detrimental effects, you might feel angry because it is so obvious to you.

You might not even be angry with your loved one. Your anger could be more generally directed at the world for allowing this to happen. Some people could feel anger toward a higher power that they believed could have protected their loved one. Anger might also be directed to the company that your loved one keeps for introducing them to substances or enabling their substance use. 

This is a raw emotion, and it can be hard to overcome. One of the most important things to remember in your healing journey is that addiction is not a choice. Even if your loved one chose to try substances, they did not choose to develop an addiction. This can be hard to recognize from the outside, especially when you have never experienced anything like it. 

Anger is a natural response to a situation like this, but acknowledging that your loved one did not intentionally cause this situation can help you see that directing your anger toward them is not going to help the situation. In reality, anger may push them away even further. Although their addiction was not their choice, it is now their choice to receive treatment, and you can hold them accountable for that. Sometimes this decision will be entirely voluntary, while other times, an intervention might better facilitate the process.

Healing Guilt

If you love someone struggling with addiction, you might find yourself feeling guilty. This guilt comes from the belief that you did something to cause your loved one’s condition. You might blame yourself for not seeing the signs sooner. Past enabling of their behavior might leave you wondering if this is all your fault. The helplessness of not knowing what to do to help your loved one can cause you to feel passive and guilty. You might even feel guilty about how you feel about the situation, particularly if you are feeling angry.

Guilt is challenging to overcome, as it requires forgiving yourself for real or imagined harm. There might be things to genuinely apologize to your loved one for, such as certain things you have said or done. It is crucial to remember, however, that you did not cause your loved one’s addiction. Just as your loved one did not choose addiction, you could not have caused it. Addiction is a disease, and if it was the choice of doing by anyone, it would be much easier to leave behind. 

From here, it is important to be committed to your loved one’s treatment. Recognizing enabling or otherwise unhelpful behaviors can improve your loved one’s outcome and improve your relationship. Channeling that guilt into the more positive mindset of trying to help your loved one where appropriate can help both of you heal. You should still recognize that it is up to your loved one to recover and that no amount of ownership you take over the situation or guilt you feel will take that responsibility away from them.

Healing Fear

It is common to experience fear when your loved one has an addiction. You may have experienced a crisis, such as an overdose, and the panic and dread of that night are still with you. This fear can also stem from the uncertainty of whether they will use substances again. When we experience anxiety, we often want to control the situation to ensure that we will come out okay on the other end. Sometimes it is not possible to have that control.

One aspect of addiction recovery that can give you some peace of mind is sober monitoring. Sober monitoring requires your loved one to take several non-invasive tests throughout the day to check whether they have used substances. This is a helpful form of accountability for them as they practice abstinence and can provide you with concrete updates on their progress. If any substance use is detected, you, your loved one, and their treatment team can act accordingly.

Healing Grief

While it is not possible to encapsulate all the possible emotions experienced when someone you love is going through addiction, a final one to mention here is grief. Grief is the response to a loss and can involve a deep sense of sadness and injustice. If your loved one is still alive, you might believe that grief does not apply to you. In reality, grief can occur as you mourn the loss of the relationship you once had with your loved one. It is likely that life looks different now, and grieving the loss of that life and the visions you had for the future is natural. Fortunately, recovery can help you and your family get those things back.

As a person recovers from substance abuse, the focus is on helping them live effectively without the use of drugs or alcohol. This is not the only component of recovery; however, the individual is not the only person involved. Those who love the individual will need to heal too. That is why seeking out a program that is focused on family recovery can help everyone succeed. Family-Centered Services is proud to offer a model of care that supports you and your loved one every step of the way. Our Family Recovery Program, individual and family therapy, intervention preparation, education, and sober monitoring will give you and your family the tools to recover. Call (509) 991-5822 to learn more.