March 21, 2019
Q: How do I deal with my loved one’s bad behaviors? (lying, manipulating, etc.)
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 excuse their behavior entirely; boundaries are essential for loved ones to maintain for their own well-being and safety.
Educating yourself about the 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.
I often tell the loved ones we coach to draw upon the happy memories they have of their family member before these symptoms of addiction started. Remembering their good qualities, and the positive memories you have with him or her, can help you separate the person from their poor actions and sometimes hurtful decisions.
It’s normal for loved ones to feel frustrated, confused and even angry when it comes to the behavioral symptoms of addiction. It’s not easy to help someone who often lies, manipulates or does other harmful things. Though they’re difficult to understand, these actions are symptoms of an illness and not moral failings. Learn more about other common loved one misconceptions here.
If nothing else, remind yourself that people suffering from addiction aren’t bad people. They’re struggling with a complex disease that impacts their brain and therefore their behavior. They need support, compassion and healthy boundaries.