Shame Doesn’t Help an Addict
The frustration is understandable. Someone you love is clearly caught up in active addiction. You feel like you’ve tried everything to get through to them. What, if anything, could ever work?
Frustration of this magnitude can skew our thinking. It can inspire us to think that maybe the only way to get through to our loved one is to shame them.
You’ve likely seen this kind of behavior on social media. Like pretty much every day. People who are deeply entrenched in a particular political viewpoint think that shaming people with different views will change the way things are. But of course, it doesn’t. It may offer you the illusion that it’s making a difference, but really, it’s only creating a greater divide.
You can’t shame people into change. No one was ever converted because they lost the argument. The moment you begin shaming is the moment they begin checking out. They won’t hear a single word after, “You’re a loser.”
So what CAN you do?
This may sound trite, fluffy, or naive, but it’s all captured in the single concept of love. Frustration may resort to shaming, but love won’t. And when you appeal to your loved one’s most primal human need — to love and to be loved — then the divide begins to close and walls come down.
There are other resources that can help you reach the one you love as well. Perhaps the most widely known and available are Al-Anon (a “worldwide fellowship that offers a program of recovery for the families and friends of alcoholics, whether or not the alcoholic recognizes the existence of a drinking problem or seeks help.”) and Nar-Anon (a twelve-step program for friends and family members of those who are affected by someone else’s addiction).
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