Many family members say that their addicted loved ones are no longer recognisable. The people they love have changed before their eyes and they cannot believe that this is the same person. It is true that addiction can have a profound effect on individuals, and many will pick up certain characteristics along the way. Addicts often learn the skills and traits they need to ensure they can continue with their addictive behaviour, which can lead to them to becoming self-centred and manipulative. They will often lie, steal, cheat and cover up in order to get what they want.
It can be difficult for recovering addicts to simply revert to how they were before they became addicted. Many family members expect to have the old person back once rehab is finished, but this is rarely the case. For many, the traits they have picked up while addicted can become entrenched and they will have to work doubly hard to get rid of them. Below are some of the more common characteristics perfected by addicts.
Addiction and honesty rarely go hand in hand and many addicts will lie to everyone about their habit. They will not want others to know they are reliant on alcohol or drugs so will make up excuses for their behaviour and may deny any problem exists if challenged. Addicts become expert liars because that is how they survive and how they are able to continue with their destructive behaviour. However, if you are in recovery, you can no longer be dishonest. You must learn to accept any mistakes you make instead of lying about them or covering them up. Learning from your mistakes is a vital process in recovery and one that will stand you in good stead. You will not get better if you continue to lie to others or try to deceive them.
Most addicts have perfected this characteristic while they were ill as well as during their early recovery. In fact, recovering addicts are often encouraged to think only of themselves and their recovery during the early days. Nevertheless, you cannot continue in this vein as you move forward. It is now important to start learning how to heal or rebuild relationships with your loved ones. And, you will never make new healthy relationships if you are only focused on yourself and your happiness.
Many addicts feel anger at their situation and have a long list of people or circumstances to blame for their illness. They often believe themselves to be victims and get angry at the world. It is imperative that you learn how to deal with your anger issues in recovery as this is one emotion that can derail you if you let it.
Trait to Keep
While many of the characteristics you have picked up while addicted should now be dropped, there is one you should look to keep. The living one-day-at-a-time philosophy is one that many addicts will adhere to. Addicts do not look to the future, they simply concentrate on what they can and cannot do that day, such as getting through work in order to have a drink or finding enough money for that day’s fix.
In recovery, it is important to take things one-day-at-a-time too. Recovering addicts need to focus on each day as being another day of sobriety. Nonetheless, the difference is that recovering addicts can and should look to the future. They can start to believe that good things are possible and, the longer they are sober, the more achievable their goals become.