I recently binged on the Netflix show, Stranger Things.
Spoiler Alert: I am going to talk for a moment about the second season…
In one episode, one of the main characters is “possessed” by a dark shadow, an evil presence.
His family and close friends surround him and they each tell a story about something they remember, something they love about the character who is possessed. They each tearfully share a memory they have of this character before the “shadow” took over his personality.
It looked like an intervention to me.
Stranger Things and the dark shadow monster is a great analogy for addiction. When addiction takes over, it wipes out the “host’s” personality. It creates a darkness that absorbs all of the addict’s positive traits and their real self retreats, while the addiction runs their life.
If addiction has ever affected you or someone you love, you know what I’m talking about.
Recently a family member of mine, someone close to me, has come out of the shadows. It is amazing to watch them reappear from under that darkness and come back out into the light. I am watching them re-member their personality, their true self, who they were meant to be. They lost so much of their life to the addiction. I am so grateful that they didn’t lose themselves all the way in that darkness.
For today’s blog post, I welcome a guest writer and their thoughts on loving someone with a drug addiction. Let me know what you think. I want to hear your experience with overcoming your dark shadow. Please post in the comments or send me a private message.
What It’s Like to Love Someone With a Drug Addiction
By Guest Author, Joshua Butcher
Drug addiction can be ugly. It can transform a person in surprising ways. It’s painful to watch.
There’s a good reason support groups exist for families of addicts. When someone you love falls into the throes of addiction, it can be devastating to your relationship and to your own life.
If you love someone who is an addict, you may find yourself overcome with many feelings during the journey to recovery. You may need to lean on friends or support groups to help you through.
You can’t shake feelings of powerlessness
We have control over most of the problems in our lives. Had a bad day? Shift your attitude and focus on turning things around. Got passed up for a promotion? Maybe it’s time to look for another job.
When someone you love is struggling with drug addiction, you have no such control. The addict must want to get help before they can begin to recover. Recovery is up to them.
Even if they choose a recovery path, it will be up to them to do the heavy lifting. You can help, but you may feel powerlessness in the process.
Instead of getting caught up in that feeling of powerlessness, know that you do have some power. All of your strength lies in your supporting role, and it’s important to remain constant and consistent. Your loved one needs your strength and support now more than ever.
You may be constantly afraid for their safety
Every time the phone rings, your heart skips a beat. Could this be the call that changes the course of your life forever? Could someone be calling to tell you that your child, spouse, or friend has fatally overdosed?
That fear may not go away for a long time, if ever.
The anxiety and fear for your loved one’s safety can take over your life.
As you try to support your loved one into a life of recovery, make sure to take care of yourself. Look for healthy outlets for your stress like yoga or meditation.
You may feel judged
Addiction comes with a major stigma. Although our society has come a long way toward understanding addiction, we still have a long way to go. You may encounter friends and neighbors who don’t understand that addiction is a disease that’s beyond the addict’s control.
If your child struggles with addiction, you may feel like people are judging you as a parent. If it’s your spouse, you may worry that people will blame marital problems for the addiction.
The truth is that anyone can become addicted. Anyone can start taking painkillers and their use and misuse can lead to a full-blown addiction. It doesn’t matter what age or religion the person is; everyone is vulnerable to addiction.
You may be able to educate some of your peers on addiction, but don’t obsess over changing anyone’s mind. Instead, focus on healing yourself and helping to heal your loved one.
When you love someone with a drug addiction, it’s easy to lose yourself in the pursuit of their recovery. Remember to take care of yourself along this journey. If you start feeling overwhelmed, reach out for help. No one should bear the weight of addiction alone.
Joshua is an ex-addict and founder of the Ohio Addiction Recovery Center. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge.