February 22, 2021
Q: How do I deal with my loved one’s bad behaviors like lying or manipulating?
A: First, it’s important to remember those frustrating behaviors are common symptoms of the disease of addiction. They tell us that the person is very sick. This doesn’t mean you should automatically excuse their behavior; boundaries are essential for loved ones to maintain for their own wellbeing and safety.
Educating yourself about addiction – especially how it affects the brain – will help you understand the poor or irrational choices they may be making. You can find a list of resources we recommend to our loved one members here.
When I first learned more about how addiction affects the brain, it was like a lightbulb turned on. I realized that my loved ones weren't doing these hurtful things because of how they felt about me. They don't want to be this way. Instead of blaming them, I could show them compassion and be ready to support them once they get help.
In the meantime, it's critical to set healthy boundaries within the relationship. Ultimately, you need to protect yourself and your wellbeing. Clearly explain the standards you need them to meet and then be sure to follow through. This is especially important if you’re living together.
It’s normal and completely understandable for family members to feel angry when it comes to the behavioral symptoms of addiction. It’s not easy to help someone who often lies, manipulates or betrays your trust. Though they’re difficult to understand, these actions are symptoms of an illness and not moral failings.
Try to remember those with addiction aren't bad people. They're struggling with a complex disease that impacts their brain and consequently their behavior. If you're unsure of how to handle someone in your life with addiction, please don't hesitate to reach out to Face It TOGETHER. We can help you problem solve, improve communication and set boundaries.