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The Importance of Empathy in Addiction

What is Empathy?

Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s point of view. It is also known as understanding, compassion, and sympathy.

Why is empathy important in addiction?

In active addiction it is all about us and to think of someone else’s feelings is not a priority. We are so ego-driven that we do not care about anyone or anything – even less anyone’s feelings. We are focused on getting our high and that is it. Through recovery we learn to check our egos and focus on humility and empathy for others.

Just as addiction and ego perpetuate one another so does recovery and empathy.

Empathy is essential to the treatment of addiction and alcoholism. Whether it is one addict understanding another addict or a therapist who is working with an alcoholic, or even the family of an addict, it is imperative that there is empathy. Empathy is a powerful tool in building trust, and in developing a good relationship between human beings, therapists and addicts, families and addicts, and also between addicts themselves. Empathy is especially important in addiction because addicts and alcoholics are used to being judged and criticized. They normally feel like no one understands them, this is why empathy in addiction is so important to helping addicts recover.

Empathy can lead to less conflict in anyone’s life but especially in the life of those who are dealing with addiction; whether it be the addict themselves or their family. Those families who have empathy for the addict in their lives can begin to heal much quicker than those who do not. Also, addicts who practice empathy will find themselves with better emotional sobriety on their road in recovery.

Learning empathy in addiction

Empathy in addiction is something that has to be practiced on a daily basis. Empathy in addiction requires using the imagination to picture or feel how the other person may be feeling. In order to be able to empathize with another person the individual must be able to be self-aware. Someone who is caught up in denial, or lacks insight into themselves and their own problems is going to struggle with empathy in addiction. It is important when it comes to empathy in addiction to know that no one can ever fully understand what another person is feeling but with empathy an individual can try.

Empathy does not mean approving of everything the other person is saying or doing either. A person can disapprove and still be empathetic.

Having empathy in addiction not only benefits the addict and strengthens their recovery but it helps to create a bond in the relationships they have with others. This is especially important because a lot of the times in families with an addict the relationships are severely strained. Empathy can help to heal these relationships. Empathy in addiction can reduce conflict in everyone’s life. The biggest reason most people get angry is because they don’t feel like anyone understands them.

Empathy also improves communication tremendously. Empathy also leads to an overall positive outlook on life. Empathy in addiction also makes people more open-minded about life in general. This is so important for the family of an addict and the addict themselves. Having an open mind can help the family heal and find new ways to cope. It can also help the addict find different solutions and be willing to do what needs to be done for their recovery.

If every person, not just addicts and alcoholics or their families had a little bit more empathy the world would be a more peaceful place. I believe this to be true. Anger is fueled by misunderstanding. Just as bigotry, racism, sexism and intolerance is fueled by people’s inability to try to understand someone different than them. With empathy in addiction more people can understand what is really going on with addicts and alcoholics. Through their empathy for others they may gain a better understanding of themselves as well.

If your loved one is in need of amphetamine addiction treatment please give us a call at 800-951-6135.


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