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Sympathy or Support: Which Should You be Offering?

Much of society still doesn’t understand addiction. They point fingers, they judge, they discriminate. They spew hateful remarks and label addicts as “worthless” or “failures.” Those people think something like addiction will never happen to them or the people they care about.

Until it does.

Addiction Doesn’t Discriminate

Drug abuse affects people at all levels of society – from the CEO to the stay-at-home mom. However, the deeply rooted stigma against addiction remains. It remains even in the face of scientific evidence proving that addiction is a treatable disease and not simply a character flaw or weakness.

This stigma is one of the most difficult aspects of addiction because it makes it harder for individuals and families to deal with their problems and get the help they need. It causes victims to hang their heads in shame, suffer in silence and internalize the hate it carries.

Too often, it causes addicts to begin accepting the ideas that addiction is their own fault and that maybe they are too weak to do anything about it. This adds to their feelings of low self-worth and perpetuates the cycle.

Uncovering the Real Problem

The fact is, people with addictions already hate their lives and don’t need others putting them down. They don’t need to be criticized or lectured on what they should be doing in life. It only causes the addicted person to feel worse about themselves, which, in turn, fuels them to seek comfort in that good feeling that comes from using. They already know how much they’re screwing up and how much they’re letting their loved ones down.

The problem is that they don’t know how to control it or how to stop.

Facing the Future

Sure, addiction can make people do unspeakable things and behave in ways you would never imagine. But this isn’t because they are inherently bad people; it’s because the drugs have started speaking and acting for them. Simply put; they don’t need your sympathy…they need your support.

Getting rid of the judgment and blame can help addicted loved ones move in a positive direction. It can help them finally face the problems that caused the addiction in the first place and take responsibility for how their behaviors have affected other people.

Finally, offering up no judgement is the best way to help them learn how to cope with the many challenges and imperfections of life…without retreating back into the “safety” of addiction.

Additional Reading:   It’s Time to Drop the ‘Blame and Shame’ Approach

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