It’s heartbreaking to see a loved one struggle through difficult times; especially when it’s with addiction. Addiction rewires a person’s brain functioning to the point we no longer recognize them. They will start to behave and react differently than we’re used to. It seems as if the person we knew is no longer with us anymore, that a whole new person has taken over them. Addiction turns our loved ones into strangers.

Aside from dealing with the fact they’re behavior has taken a 180 flip, we have to deal with the emotions that result from that. When family members or loved ones start steal from us, cheat us, and use us to get what they need for drugs, we experience a feeling of betrayal and disregard. How could they do that to me? How could they not even care about how their actions hurt me?

The truth of the matter is that drugs and alcohol alter parts of the brain that are also associated with empathy. So when their priorities, desires, and motivations are rewired, so is their capacity to empathize. When it seems like they don’t care about you, it’s because they actually don’t. This is the toughest struggle; living with loved ones who seem like strangers that could care less about you. We need to remember it’s not really them. The person we know and love is still in there. They’re just overshadowed by this dark control over them.

So what’s the solution for this? You need to empathize with them. The person you know is still in there, even if they seem like a total stranger. Addicts are open to treatment and sobriety when they become aware of how their loved ones feel. Even if we can’t fix them, we can influence them. If you’re able to empathize with them, you will reach their soul deep down and refocus their ability to empathize with you as their loved one whom they no longer want to hurt.

This is a lot easier said than done and takes a lot of patience and understanding. If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, please contact a medical professional for advice and treatment options. Even if you need advice on what to do or how to respond to a loved one struggling with addiction, please reach out. Crownview Medical Group has trained medical professionals specializing in a interventions, addiction programs, and individualized case management.