Have you ever been looking at someone who’s standing in the same room as you, living and breathing, and caught yourself grieving their loss? Sometimes people can change so much that it feels as though they’re no longer the person you knew or loved. You might be in the middle of a conversation with them and still think, “I really miss him.” If someone seems to be lost to substance abuse, it might feel a lot like grief when you consider the ways they’ve changed, but as long as they are still alive, there’s hope.

It’s natural to miss the things you’ve lost. Even if it’s just an old friend who you drifted away from or a romantic relationship that didn’t quite work out, you’re allowed to grieve a little for what might have been. When it’s someone close to you, however, like a child or spouse, every day can feel like a painful reminder. The worst part might be that no one else quite understands. If you’d lost someone to cancer or in a car accident, you’d be overwhelmed with well-wishers and flowers and casseroles, but if your loved one is still right there, it can be impossible for someone who’s never been in your shoes to truly sympathize.

GRIEVING FOR THE LIVING ADDICT

Even if you thought people would understand, you might feel too ashamed or guilty to talk about it. It’s natural for people to wonder what they did wrong, or what they could have done when someone close to them is suffering from addiction. The thing you have to remember is that you can’t control everything, and in the end, people make their own choices. The best thing you can do is take care of yourself and your own mental health so that if there ever does come a time when your loved one asks for help, you’ll be equipped to be there for them. Try speaking to other family members of addicts, find yourself a therapist, or join a support group. Don’t hold on to the guilt to the point that it destroys your own life.

Remember that until your loved one is actually dead and gone, there’s still some hope. You never know what might convince someone to stop using or seek help. This doesn’t mean that you have to stand by and let them hurt you or drain you financially. If things have gotten to the point where your valuables are going missing or you worry for your physical safety, you might have to part ways. Just because you aren’t enabling doesn’t mean that you don’t care or that you can’t help. Make sure they know that you’re there for them if they ever get serious about recovery.

If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.