If you have a loved one or an acquaintance who is an active addict or currently in recovery, it's important to empathize with their situation. Empathy isn't the same as sympathy, it's simply understanding addiction and where the person is coming from. Sometimes, your understanding may help addicts who are currently drinking or using because they're unaware of how severe their problem actually is. No matter what the situation may be, understanding addiction and what these people are going through or have gone through can help you break down stereotypes and misconceptions about this potentially fatal mental illness.
For anyone who has seen an addict go through the transformation from ordinary person to a life that revolves around alcohol or drugs, you probably have seen this individual at his or her worst. Addicts are often highly intelligent, loving, and caring individuals. Addiction is a mental illness that takes all of these great aspects of the human character away when it's severe enough. Someone in active addiction may lie, cheat, and steal from the people they care about the most, but it's actually eating them up inside. They have an intense craving and compulsion that makes them do whatever it takes in order to continue drinking or using. When individuals begin a life of sobriety, remember that they're sick people trying to get well and not bad people trying to become good. This can take some time, and the more you're actively involved with understanding addiction the more you can help support their sobriety.
One of the biggest hurdles addicts have to overcome is that they're bodily and mentally different from other people. They have to surrender to the fact that they react differently to drugs and alcohol, but this doesn't mean they look down on you for what you do in your personal life. Although it's respectful to always ask recovering addicts if they mind if you drink in front of them, you need not worry about them judging you. A person with a peanut allergy wouldn't look down on you for eating peanuts, so an addict won't look down on you for what you enjoy doing. Addicts made one of the most important decisions in their lives when they became substance-free, and it can be harmful to their recovery when they feel that they're looked at or treated differently than other people. Another thing to remember is that they're there to help you. If you feel like you might have a problem with drugs or alcohol, or if you think someone you know has a problem, don't be afraid to ask them questions about how you or a loved one can get the same help the recovering addict did. Freedom From Addiction can help you as you consider drug rehab treatment.
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