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Compassion: An Essential Ingredient of Recovery

Addiction can be a very difficult and trying road for everyone involved. Family, close friends and trusted associates will, eventually, feel the heartbreaking side effects of substance abuse.

A severe addiction becomes all-consuming, taking up most of an addict’s time and energy. This behavior can leave others feeling abandoned, insignificant and disposable. In the end, despite the type of addiction, there is one common thing left scattered alongside the road of addiction: broken relationships.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that “broken” does not mean “irreparable.”

Defining and Choosing Compassion

According to Webster’s Dictionary, compassion is a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

In order to rebuild the foundation of a healthy relationship, showing compassion during an addicted loved one’s recovery is essential. Not only will family and friends begin the healing process, your loved one will also feel supported in their recovery.

Here are the top five benefits of showing compassion to a recovering addict:

Benefit #1   Knowing How to Help by Understanding Addiction

Simply put, addiction hijacks the brain, causing cravings to a point of losing control over one’s life and well-being.

It may seem difficult to have compassion, as some are of the opinion that drug addiction is a choice. However, understanding how addiction affects the brain can further help family and friends move past their hurts and come to terms with your loved one’s situation.

Benefit #2   An Improvement in Mental Health

Dealing with addiction takes its toll, both physically and emotionally. However, if your loved one is taking steps into recovery, your compassion can help both of you find peace.

Coming to that point of understanding can also mean a decrease in common signs of mental distress, such a paranoia and mood swings.

Benefit #3   Becoming Less Combative and Argumentative

Overly aggressive behavior and your loved one’s fragile state are two emotions that do not mix. Negative or challenging emotions have been known to cause a relapse and that’s certainly not what you want for him.

Showing compassion can have a huge impact during recovery. Your compassionate example gives him a push to embrace the tools he learned in rehab like managing his own feelings, working through everyday stresses, overcoming cravings and environmental triggers.

Benefit #4   Personal Bonds Become Stronger

Where there is compassion, there is empathy. Empathy allows someone to imagine what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. It allows you to consider the other person’s feelings when making decisions.

Being able to relate to a loved one during his darkest hours can help rebuild a broken relationship. And in the end, both of you are better for it.

Benefit #5   Showing Compassion Teaches Others Compassion

Helping those in need is a humbling and learned experience. Understanding the difference between compassion and enabling can not only strengthen the good within your loved ones, it can provide strength to your addicted loved one as well – strength that is desperately needed during early recovery.

By showing compassion during his recovery, he can see reality with fresh eyes and a renewed perspective. And what’s really amazing is that, a little further down the road, he will remember that support forever and likely go on to help others who are struggling with addiction.

Additional Reading: Laughter: A Recovery Tool We Can’t Afford to Ignore

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