Empathizing with a drug addict or alcoholic may seem difficult at first glance. This becomes increasingly true as the degree that substance abuse has impacted their life increases. It is important to remember that by and large, these are not bad people who have committed moral failings. Rather, they are ordinary people who are suffering from the long-term affects of poor judgement.
Viewing drug addicts and alcoholics as people suffering from a disease is a highly effective approach that is commonly used to understand the experience of addition. For those who need or seek help, using their drug of choice (or drinking) is no longer a conscious decision, but a natural impulse that needs to be consciously fought, requiring a great effort to overcome. Fundamentally, it is a compulsion rather than a decision. The natural path for an addict is to continue. In this case, inaction requires significantly more effort than does action.
Another crucial aspect is that of biological addiction. With many substances, including even caffeine, the human body develops a dependency. This dependency means that in addition to the biological and psychological cravings experienced by addicts when attempting to go without, a variety of painful withdrawal symptoms are experienced. It is these numerous physically painful impediments that represent the largest barrier to overcoming addiction. This knowledge is crucial to comprehending the challenges faced by those who struggle with addiction and substance abuse. With the understanding that it is more like an illness to be fought rather than simply an arbitrary choice to be made, the struggle with addiction can better be empathized with.
In its most simplest form, the following steps are a good basis for empathizing with an alcoholic or drug addict.
- Imagine yourself in their position
- Understand that they did not want to end up the way they did
- Empathize with the challenge they now face
- Avoid judgement of past mistakes
Understanding that addiction, regardless of intentions, is inherently difficult to overcome is one of the most crucial aspects of learning to empathize with those who have made detrimental life choices. The ability to understand addiction as a disease is the necessary element in attaining the ability to empathize with a drug addict or alcoholic. If you need help getting someone in to addiction treatment, you can always call us at 833-846-5669