As drug and alcohol addiction continues to plague our country, the family members and loved ones of addicts get hurt more and more. Addiction is a growing problem, with more people getting addicted each year than those who beat addiction. Not only that, but the addictions themselves are getting worse with each passing year. This is such that the problem of “drug addiction” and “alcohol addiction” are actually a lot more lethal than they used to be. All we have to do is look at the CDC’s death report on substance abuse to know that substance abuse claims more lives than it used to. And it’s not just because there are more addicts either. Statistically speaking the substances that are abused in 2017 are riskier than the substances abused in 1997. Are you enabling an addicted loved one? If so, you can get something called compassion exhaustion; you have to learn to take care of yourself.
Enabling an Addicted Loved One
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, there are more than twenty-three million people hooked on drugs and alcohol in this country. With twenty-three million people addicted, it does not take a genius to know that there are a lot of people connected to those twenty-three million. Even if each addict only has about five or six family members, loved ones, friends, or business associates to whom they are very close, that is still over one-hundred million people being constantly, adversely affected by someone’s substance abuse. As much as we as a country need to come together and address those who are addicted, we also need to address those who are affected by another person’s addiction. Enabling an addicted loved one can hurt them more than helping them in the long run.
Losing Compassion While Enabling an Addicted Loved One
To an outsider looking in, a family member or loved one’s addiction can often feel like a never-ending cycle of viciousness and misery. In a lot of ways it is. If you spend too much time enabling an addicted loved one, you could begin to experience compassion exhaustion or compassion fatigue. You might actually start losing compassion for your addicted loved one.
Nicole Urdang, a medical doctor and specialist on holistic medicine, had this to say about addressing compassion fatigue to therapists and healthcare workers:
“It might manifest as insomnia, overeating, skipping meals, addictive behavior, isolating oneself, depression, anxiety, or anger. We might find ourselves fighting with partners or children, having no patience, feeling exhausted, noticing a lowered libido, unmotivated, and, paradoxically, being less interested in what our clients have to say,” she said. “Believe it or not, these are all helpful, as they quickly alert us to our depleted state. If we are paying attention and are committed to radical self-care, we can act on this awareness by rebalancing our life. If that is not possible, simply taking short breaks throughout the day to close your eyes, focus on your breath, or put your hands on your heart and send yourself some compassion can all make a big difference.”
Her words speak to the importance of taking care of oneself while also caring for others. Losing compassion for a loved one is not what you want to happen. Rather, a tough love approach that still holds on to compassion for a loved one (while absolutely not enabling them) is key. It is better to have tough love than enabling an addicted loved one, better to have compassion than sympathy, and better to have empathy for them than to enable them.
When one is truly able to step away from enabling their loved ones, they can regain their own stable ground and footing. They can present rehabilitation as an effective solution for their loved one and the only solution that they are willing to give. For help in accomplishing this, contact Behavioral Rehabilitation Services today at our toll-free number.