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Losing an Addicted Loved One: Why Families Need Compassion, Not Criticism

sad woman after losing an addicted loved one

Losing an Addicted Loved One: Why Families Need Compassion, Not Criticism

Losing an addicted loved one is not easy.  Good riddance. It may be what you’re thinking when you find out that a friend’s addicted loved one has passed away. After all the pain and heartache that friend suffered as a result of the addiction, it’s easy to think she’s better off without him, but rather than being bombarded with criticism or “I told you so’s” following the death of an addicted loved one, what families really need is compassion. If you have lost a loved one to a drug overdose, it may be difficult determining the best way to begin the healing process. Your first course of action should be to find out what services may be available in your area for the families of addicts.

What to do After Losing an Addicted Loved One

It’s never easy knowing what to say when someone loses a loved one, and when that loved one’s death was the result of addiction, it can be even more difficult finding the right words to ease their pain. Unfortunately, because of the negative stigma associated with addiction and overdose, and because many people simply don’t understand the complexities of addiction, and how difficult it can be to overcome, their initial reaction may be a total lack of sympathy. They assume the addicted individual chose addiction over recovery, chose to cause their loved ones pain rather than taking control of their addiction when in reality, it was the addiction that was controlling them. If you are struggling after losing an addicted loved one, and you are receiving more criticism than compassion from the people around you, the following steps can help you begin the healing process:

  • Look for a support group. Support groups carry their own negative stigma, sometimes seen as an excuse for pitiful individuals to wallow in their own grief, while in reality, support groups can be a valuable resource for families who have lost a loved one to addiction. By sharing your feelings and listening to others who have endured the effects of a loved one’s addiction, and suffered a similar loss, you can really let the healing process begin.
  • Be an advocate for others. Nothing cures an intolerable pain like helping others who are struggling with a similar issue. Use your own experiences to help others who have lost a loved one to addiction, educate them about your loved one’s addiction and how it affected your family, and offer them the compassion they need and deserve in the aftermath of such a tragedy.
  • Refuse to be shamed by others. Insensitive comments from other people may be born from arrogance or ignorance, but either way, you shouldn’t let these types of comments shame you. Addiction is a global issue that affects millions of people. You have the right to mourn your loved one and feel sorrow in their absence, without feeling embarrassment or shame about your situation.
  • Forgive their lack of compassion. Your gut reaction to another person’s criticism may be anger and bitterness, but adding these emotions into the mix will only make the healing process harder for you. Forgive the insensitivity of your friends and loved ones, and their lack of empathy. Remember that, unless they’ve been in a similar situation, they cannot possibly understand what you are going through, and even if they have, they are probably struggling to find the right thing to say. Try not to take their comments too personally.

Contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services Today

Addiction is an issue that affects not just the addicted individual himself, but his friends, loved ones and even coworkers, and the same is true for an addicted individual who loses the battle with addiction and succumbs to a drug overdose. The pain, grief, and heartache they leave in their wake can be just as devastating as the addiction itself, and, while you might expect to receive compassion under such tragic circumstances, some people will offer you criticism, anger, and shame instead. Nothing excuses this kind of behavior, but recognizing the fact that they simply don’t understand what you are going through can help you disregard these comments after losing an addicted loved one.

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