Substance abuse often starts as an attempt to change what we consider to be a personal problem. Getting drunk or high can seem like a good way to calm anxiety, act more social, get more accomplished, or take a break from stress. Even in the depths of addiction, the substances are likely to continue to produce this escape from your real life.
Unfortunately for those we care about, they are not experiencing any benefits of escape. They are outside of any relief, stuck in reality, and watching us sink into the dead-end pit of destruction that addiction always brings. While getting drunk or high, a substance abuser is busy spreading his or her problems out to others by creating new ones. You might not be worried about your future while you are getting intoxicated, but you are continually giving those who care about you a reason to be very concerned about it.
The intense focus on escaping through addiction can rob us of the ability to be considerate of those who love and care for us. Part of the benefit of getting sober is that you are relieving your loved ones of this extra burden. Your freedom from substance addiction becomes their freedom, too. A relationship that consists of stress and strife can end up blossoming into one of joy, laughter, and mutual sharing. The following are some of the specific ways that your friends, family, and significant others benefit from your sobriety.
They Won’t Be As Worried
Watching someone we love play with danger produces anxiety. In some cases, the anxiety experienced when someone other than ourselves is in danger can be worse than going through it, ourselves. Watching someone else act dangerously means that we have no control over the situation. Dealing with a lack of ability to step in and intervene can result in the development of severe mental health problems. Your loved one may end up suffering from related depression, anxiety, or physical health issues due to their concern for you.
Getting sober, and staying that way, can give the gift of greater peace to a loved one who stays up at night, praying for – and worrying about – you. This important person will be able to go to sleep, unconcerned that you might be snorting your last line, smoking your last unknown substance, or driving drunk for the final time. Your loved one won’t be fretting about what kind of people you are hanging around with, or whether someone is going to harm you while your senses are compromised.
They Won’t Feel Used
As much as they may loved you, the friends and family of an addicted person can begin to feel resentful over providing you with unlimited resources, while getting nothing in return. Addiction is traditionally a very self-centered problem. While we are worried about escaping problems and scoring that next high, we often aren’t thinking about the needs of others, at all. Friends and family of an addicted person can get very tired of being asked for money, providing a temporary place for you to crash, or cleaning up the messes that you leave behind. Some will even reach a point where they decide that it is better to just cut you off, completely, until you return to your sober senses.
While it is true that the act of love involves giving to someone without expecting anything in return, it is also important to recognize when we are being taken advantage of or enabling the poor behavior of someone else. Finding those boundaries and applying them can be yet another source of stress for others in your life. Your sobriety gives your loved ones the gift of being able to relax in the knowledge that you are the type of person who gives as much as you take.
They Will Know What to Expect
Being able to predict the behaviors of those close to us is one of the factors that makes a relationship
enjoyable. We know which family members always keep their word, and which friends will always go out of their way to help. We know who we can turn to for advice, and who we can spend a fun evening with. Interacting with someone who is in addiction provides none of this security.
Not only does being under the influence of drugs or alcohol change our personalities, but the periods of withdrawal change us, too. Addiction can turn typically honest people into liars, responsible people into slackers, and caring people into sociopaths. As your highs and lows fluctuate, you may even show glimpses of the person that you used to be. The people around you will gradually become very wary of which version of you that they are dealing with. They are likely to eventually not even be able to trust the good parts of you, as they will have grown fearful that they are simply being deceived and manipulated by the addict parts. Returning to the stability of sobriety is the only way to reverse this type of uncertainty for your loved ones.
They Will Benefit From Your Growth
One of the beautiful things in life is the fact that our failures, mistakes, and weaknesses can also turn into our greatest strengths. Resilience is the ability to get back up and keep going after a hardship. The ability to exercise resilience is the best predictor of the ability to achieve life-long success, and people who have recovered from addiction have proven themselves to have this positive trait.
Once you have successfully overcome your experience of addiction, you will be in a unique position to share your strength, wisdom, insight, and understanding with those around you. Rather than being considered the problem child or the black sheep of the family, you can find that you become the rock that the family depends on. You have the opportunity to develop the coping skills and emotional maturity that only going through a hardship can produce, and will be able to give those blessings back to your loved ones.