It can be hard for others to understand your addiction when they’ve never gone through it themselves. Not to mention, addiction is still misunderstood at times and carries a stigma. For instance, some people think that addiction is a choice. Others feel it’s a weakness that you need to keep in control. In reality, addiction is a complex, progressive disease that causes changes in the brain’s circuitry.
Unfortunately, you can’t stop people from asking tough questions, so it’s important to be prepared for them. Try to remember that your loved ones are not doing this to hurt you but rather because they’re trying to understand. Once you start having open conversations, you can begin to repair your relationships, promote open communication, and build trust.
What Types of Questions Do Addicts Hear?
Even though there’s a lot of education about addiction, people still like to believe that addiction is a conscious choice. It’s not. People make the decision to experiment with drugs, but they do not make the decision to become addicted and stay addicted. This is why we encourage family members to get support alongside their loved ones. As they learn about addiction, they will hopefully become more compassionate to your struggles.
Some of the most common questions or statements that addicts hear from loved ones are:
- Do you care more about drugs and alcohol than me?
- Why can’t you just stop using drugs and alcohol?
- Going cold turkey is the only answer. Why don’t you do that?
- You just need to pull yourself together. Why can’t you?
- This wouldn’t have happened if….
- Why isn’t love enough to change you?
How to Answer Questions about Your Addiction
When you are asked difficult questions about your addiction, remember that your addiction has affected more than just you. Instead of getting defensive, acknowledge your loved one’s emotions and recognize that your addiction has impacted their lives as well. You can then respond with one of these responses:
“I do not choose to be an addict.”
Let your loved one know that you never wanted to be an addict. Like other diseases, addiction requires treatment for it to get better. Reassure your family member that you love them and would never choose substances over them. However, you need their support and understanding as you start recovery.
“Addiction is a chronic disease.”
Addiction is like heart disease or diabetes in the fact that it’s a progressive condition that will get worse without intervention. And even once you are clean, you still need to live a careful life that embraces sobriety. Otherwise, you run the risk of relapse. Remind your loved one that you are committed to your recovery, but this is a lifelong journey that requires their support.
“My brain has been rewired.”
Another thing to let your loved one know is that you are not choosing drugs and alcohol over them because you want to. The addiction has rewired your brain so that you can’t make your own choices. The addiction is in control. You cannot stop this with willpower alone. You need ongoing treatment, therapy, and time to heal.
Hopefully, these responses will help you answer difficult questions without being defensive or argumentative. It can hurt to hear these questions, but keep in mind that your addiction has hurt more than just you. Even though you never meant to hurt your loved ones, you must be willing to take responsibility. As your family tries to understand your journey and you do the same, you’ll be able to build and sustain a healthy, loving relationship.