By Michael Rice, LISAC, CTRTC
Addicts and alcoholics all lack happiness and a sense of well-being. It’s what prompted them to drink/use in the first place. Happy people who truly like themselves don’t have a need to abuse drugs or alcohol in order to feel better. Pure air is more than sufficient for them.
When one has acquired the love of one’s self as well as the love from the important people in his/her life, they have acquired a pervasive sense of happiness and well-being. Even in times of adversity or illness, the person who loves and receives love deals with unhappiness in healthy ways of hope and gratitude. They handle life’s woes much better than the person who lacks love and connection with others.
Ironically, it is an addict’s/alcoholic’s drugged behavior while under the influence that causes them to lose whatever love they may have had. The more they drink or use to dissipate their unhappiness, the more they create their own sense of shame and guilt . . . adding two more things they want to overcome by drinking or using.
What they need the most is love. However, if those who are closest to them hold much resentment, harbor a lot of anger, and feel wounded by their behavior, it would be extremely difficult for them to show any compassion or love towards them. The behavior of an addict or alcoholic oftentimes creates resentment and anger to those closest to them. Others see their behavior as the person’s true behavior and not their drugged affected behavior.
Even in many treatment centers, the need for genuine love is overlooked leading to failed attempts at sobriety. One of the reasons A.A. works so well is due to the love and understanding given them by those who have been there. This is why A.A. is called, “A Fellowship.” But all too often, it is the alcoholic/addict’s shame and guilt that puts up a defensive wall towards “getting help from outsiders” or “people who don’t even know me.”
The most successful mental health and recovery programs are those which are aware of the magic of love towards their clients. I am not speaking of romantic love between therapist and clients but the love of true caring and concern from the important people in one’s life. Love, both caring and romantic, has the power to create long lasting happiness and wellbeing. Of course there is more than just Love that and addict/alcoholic needs. They also need forgiveness and acceptance which falls under the umbrella of love. Once again, I refer to the Beatles: