Healing A Heart Broken By Addiction
Addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer. People from all walks of life can be – and are – affected by the disease. It plagues the lives of white collar and blue collar workers, the young, the old, the rich and the poor, men and women, people of every race and ethnicity. It destroys homes and jobs, families, friendships and marriages. Addiction also breaks hearts.
If a loved one’s drug or alcohol addiction has broken your heart, you may wonder if it’s ever possible for it to heal. After all, being a friend or family member of someone struggling with addiction is painful. While under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your addicted loved one will say and do things that can tear through your heart like a dagger. You’ve been lied to, cheated on, and played. You’ve trusted, but been tricked. Your body and mind are exhausted and your heart is hurting.
Anyone who knows what addiction looks and feels like knows a heart broken by feelings such as fear, stress, financial worry, and guilt. And heart wounds caused by the pains of addiction can last for a lifetime if not resolved and treated properly.
Recovery isn’t just for the individual struggling with heroin or alcohol.Treating a broken heart from a loved one’s addiction involves your own recovery. Regardless of whether your loved one has received treatment, still struggles with addiction, or is no longer a part of your life – you must take the steps to get yourself better.
Allow yourself to feel.
You are angry, resentful, fearful and hurt. Allow yourself to feel those emotions – without shutting them down. If you need to scream, scream. If you need to cry, cry. Give yourself the opportunity to express what is going on inside of you. If you don’t release them, those bottled up feelings will eventually find another way out. If you avoid your feelings, you will avoid people and strike back at the same time – you will end up compromising yourself. Allow yourself to feel your feelings.
Stop the blaming statements.
If you’ve caught yourself saying things like, “He wouldn’t be using cocaine if I had only been there for him,” or “I lost my friends and my savings because she’s an alcoholic.” – STOP. You may have heard the “Three C’s of Dealing with Addiction”:
1. You didn’t Cause the addiction
2. You can’t Control the addiction
3. You can’t Cure the addiction
Continually blaming yourself, your loved one or anyone else for the addiction and what it’s done to your family is only going to keep the pain in your heart.
Work with a therapist – to work on you.
If your loved one has gone or is going to treatment, find out if the rehab provides family care and counseling. If not, find a therapist of your own. There are many therapists who specialize specifically in addiction counseling for families. Addiction causes an enormous amount of trauma that can be very difficult to resolve. Address your feelings of anger, sadness, and distrust with professional help. Remember tip #1? If those feelings have already been buried within, a therapist will help to bring them out.
Find support through like minded people.
Support groups for families dealing with addiction, such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are available nationwide. You can also network online with people in your situation if you aren’t able to find local resources. There is power in numbers and knowing that you are not alone and connecting with others is a great way to feel understood. Sharing your story will help you feel supported – and also help your heart to heal.
Forgive your loved one – and yourself.
Even though you probably already know that you need to learn to forgive in order to move forward and heal your broken heart, it can be incredibly difficult to do so. Your heart may be filled with retribution and revenge, or you may not know how to resolve the situation effectively within yourself.
Keep in mind, forgiveness doesn’t mean you shouldn’t or won’t have any more feelings about the addiction. It doesn’t mean there is nothing further to work out with your family member or friend. And it doesn’t mean you have to excuse your loved ones actions. Forgiveness means you accept the reality of the addiction, and the event or events that led to the pain. Realize that the addicted person in your life is or was a prisoner to his or her disease.
Holding onto anger and resentment is like drinking poison – it will only hurt you. To begin healing in your heart, you must forgive.
Healing a heart broken by addiction will take time. Give yourself that time. Learn about the disease of addiction, browse through our articles, connect with others, and follow these steps. Honor yourself, your feelings, and all that you’ve been through, as well. Remember, recovery from addiction is more than your loved one detoxing drugs from their body. Treating addiction means treating the whole family, and healing the whole family.