09/30/2015 08:12 EDT | Updated 09/30/2016 05:12 EDT

Those Affected By Addiction Also Need Support

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Are you the loved one of someone struggling with an addiction?

Would you like to become part of the solution, instead of staying stuck in the problem?

These days, addictive behaviours are so rampant that it's virtually impossible to imagine how many people are affected by them. Having worked as an addictions therapist for over 25 years -- with both addicts and their loved ones -- what I know today is that for every one addict, there are generally at least 10 to 20 people directly affected by that person's addiction.

Think about it: there are parents and grandparents; partners and spouses; girlfriends and boyfriends; brothers and sisters; aunts, uncles and cousins; bosses and colleagues; teachers and fellow students; friends and neighbours; even doctors and therapists -- just to name a few.

And even though none of us wear a sign on our foreheads saying, "I am affected by another person's addiction," today the unfortunate likelihood is that most people you know are either the loved one of an addict (of any kind) or they are aware of someone who is.

Many loved ones of people with addictive behaviours such as drugs and alcohol, eating disorders, gambling, smoking, sex addiction, internet addiction, or gaming don't recognize this truth because they often don't tell anyone what they are dealing with. Most stay silent for fear of being judged -- when the reality is that so many others are going through identical struggles. Loved ones may also be fearful of the addict's anger, so they remain passive against that potential aggression. But if nothing changes, nothing changes, and if you're not speaking your truth about this situation, things will basically remain the same -- and invariably become progressively worse.

If you are the loved one of an addict, please know that you are not alone! In a "misery loves company" sort of way, this can be a comforting thought. But a healthier way to see it is that the sooner we all reach out for support and share what is going on for us, the sooner we can come out of the problem and into the light of the solution.

Please don't let your secrets keep you sick anymore, as the saying goes. I hope that more and more loved ones will develop the courage -- and the self-respect -- to talk about the issues we're facing, for only then can we unite and help each other.

You don't have to go through this by yourself -- and it is actually better for your family and for the addict you love for you to finally make the decision to say:

"I am affected by an addict's addiction -- and I will not allow myself to be silenced anymore."


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