Addiction is real, and the impact hits home for millions of Americans. According to SAMHSA, 21.5 million Americans struggled with a substance use disorder in 2014. And this number doesn’t include all the family members, friends, children, significant others, colleagues, etc. that were impacted as well.
Addiction is tough. And it’s even tougher to talk about. But one of the most important steps to recovery is learning to be open about addiction and how it affects our lives.
Robbie Gallo, the lead singer of Vokab Kompany, is one example of someone greatly impacted by a loved one’s addiction. He wrote openly about his experience in the song, “It’s Warm in the Light,” which was dedicated to his brother. He also talked to Recovery Brands about his inspiration for his song and how he feels it might impact others who are struggling with addiction, or struggling with a loved one’s addiction.
Inspired by Robbie’s story, Recovery Brands, in partnership with its site Recovery.org, gathered stories from others who have loved ones struggling with addiction. These are their stories.
“Frustration is the first word that comes to mind. No matter how many times or how many ways you try to help an addict, you realize they can only help themselves.
An addict is emotionally detached from everything except their addiction. It consumes their every thought and action. They often prioritize their addiction above their family and friends, not realizing what they have and what they are risking to lose. It’s like loving someone who doesn’t love you back.”
— Jesse, a loving son.
“Being the parent of an addict is incredibly frustrating, because as parents we’re programmed to take care of our children and help “fix” them from the time they are born. But addiction isn’t a scrape on the knee or a sore throat.
Addiction is something parents can’t fix. So you do the best you can with what you know at the time and you learn as you go along. And you can never go wrong with love.”
— Dean, a loving father.
“You hope it’s not that bad. You hope it will get better. You prepare yourself. They might not survive. You must strengthen your mind, your heart. You look in on them when they are ‘sleeping.’ You check on their breathing, just like a newborn. You know you must be so crazy.
You look for a lot of input, calling local rehab centers. Any, and all possible options. You enlist your local police /sheriff for strength. You tell your loved one, ‘You are SO LOVED, SO VALUED, SO WORTH EVERY EFFORT. Please don’t die.’ You keep hoping and praying that something grand and magical could happen.
— Elizabeth, a loving mother.
“Loving someone with addiction is heartbreaking. Loving someone in recovery is heartwarming.
During addition, it’s heartbreaking to witness a loved one’s positive potential replaced with scary possibilities and horrible realities. Hope helps, but there are so many unknowns … until recovery. During recovery, it’s heartwarming to see the return good health, smart decisions, trust and confidence.”
— Rose, a loving mother.
“Love is powerful. I often use the phrase ‘Love them to life.’ This love is not an enabling emotion supporting a loved one’s destructive behavior; it is pure, simple, unconditional love.
Loving someone struggling with addiction expands our capability to love, if we allow it. It’s not always easy to work through the frustration, anger and confusion we feel and dig down to find the love we have for someone, but it’s our love that they will remember and our love that can bring them back. We have to try to love them home.
Love is powerful. Never let anger, hurt, frustration, disappointment and the other negative emotions we feel bury the love you have for someone struggling with addiction.
Love them home. Love them to life.”
— Jean, a loving mother.
“The easiest way I can explain it to others is that addiction is, in fact, a mental illness. Addiction alters the brain which alters the person.
Because of that, loving someone with an addiction is like loving someone with a mental illness. You love that person endlessly, but there are good days and there are bad days. You find yourself loving the shell of that person before they were feeding that addiction. You love who they are but not what they are
You certainly love them on the good days and the bad days but you find that you don’t have to limit yourself or your life on those good days. You talk to them about what it would be like if things were different but in the end, you always know that it is that person that has to make the conscious effort and the decision to turn their life around every single day in order to fight addictions. Nevertheless, you never stop loving every single ounce of that person and never stop wishing away the part of them that feeds the addictions.”
— Hannah, a loving sister.