How Do You Explain Addiction?

How do you explain what it’s like to have a family member who is an addict? I tried this the other day without any luck. People are so blind to addiction, and they can’t see past the stigma that has been attached to it all these years. They say nothing to the people who are alcoholics. It’s the addict that gets the bad rap instead. I guess everyone has accepted alcohol socially as being an acceptable disease.

So how do you explain addiction to someone who knows nothing about it but thinks they know it all? Us mothers, who’ve been battling it in our children for any length of time knows what it’s like to live a life of broken promises and constant conflict. We know that our kids are decent people we just can’t find them in that body of theirs. It’s as though someone has snatched that little boy/girl away from us in the blink of an eye. Everything we once knew about them is gone. Their personality changed. That has to be someone else possessing my child’s body because that’s not the child I once knew.

When the addict dies, how do you explain their death to those who don’t understand addiction? You didn’t do anything different as far as raising your child than they did. Why are you suddenly the bad parent? You made your child do the school work, disciplined them when they needed it, you were there for all their bumps and bruises, and when they were sick. Why are they suddenly looking down at you and saying such things about you behind your back?

How do you tell people that addiction is not fair? It knows no boundaries. It takes the lives of the poor and the wealthy. Even the families who are close to their children. Those who have taken part in sports, or other activities, just to keep them busy and out of trouble have fallen victim to addiction. Smart kids and slow kids, it doesn’t matter, addiction can find them regardless.

How do you change the stigma of addiction when so many people are ignorant about the facts? Many mothers are embarrassed by the fact that their child is an addict. They can’t believe that it has happened to them. Why would they deserve this? But, addiction doesn’t care about how you feel. It happens. When you let go of being embarrassed by your addict, you learn the feeling of hope. It doesn’t come to all; it dangles like a tiny thread before you when you hear the stories of recovery of other addicts. Hope can grow stronger with understanding what it’s like for the addict, why they do the things they do, why they think the things they think.

How do you explain how to see life through an addict’s eyes? Your child is gone. Dead or alive, they are gone just the same. You either learn to see life through your dead child’s eyes as a memory to keep their spirit alive, or you learn to see life through your living addict eyes. But remember that little child is no longer the one you see. They are gone forever. Alive or Dead – living with an addict is a complicated thing to explain. Until you’ve been there, you’ll never understand what it’s like to love an addict.

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