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What’s the Link Between Empathy and Addiction?

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Empathy and addiction have a very important connection. Clients of addiction are typically not empathetic individuals. Addiction makes clients focus on themselves and they put their needs before the needs of all others. Learning how to become empathetic is vital in the addiction recovery process.

The Relationship between Empathy and Addiction

Empathy is the ability to understand and to relate to the feelings, motives and circumstances of others. Empathy is often missing among clients of addiction because addiction tends to make it so that clients either only consider themselves or that they consider themselves far before others.

The lack of empathy creates conflicts between clients of addiction and the people in their personal and professional lives because not understanding others will translate to having little or no regard for others, which will almost always lead to serious problems.

Empathy and Addiction Treatment

Part of the recipe for a successful recovery process is gaining empathy. Empathy is to recovery what ego is to addiction.

The first step of addiction treatment is overcoming denial. Clients in denial will be unable to empathize because if they do not understand and admit to themselves and others that they are powerless over substances then they cannot understand how their addictions are affecting the people in their lives.

Clients will learn how to listen to what others are saying and to pay attention to what others do in order to gain a sense of what they are going through and what their needs are. They will learn how to empathize with their fellow addiction clients, therapists and their loved ones in family therapy, which will give them the tools needed to continue to be empathetic individuals in the future.

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The Benefits of Empathy and Addiction Treatment

  • Clients with empathy will have less conflict with others.
  • Empathy helps clients to see more of themselves in others and more of others in themselves. This helps to clear away such issues as discrimination.
  • Clients who can empathize can make true amends with the people they have hurt in their lives. It takes a true understanding of what someone has done and how it has affected someone to be able to truly right a wrong.
  • Empathy helps clients to avoid repeating the same mistakes where their loved ones are concerned. Having a better understanding of how one’s actions will affect someone can help them to think twice before causing any pain.
  • Improved empathy translates to improved communication.

If you or someone you love is having problems with alcohol abuse, chemical dependency or addiction, recovery from a drug abuse program, like the one at Destination Hope, may be the answer.  Remember that recovery from addiction and alcohol abuse treatment means learning how to cope with intensely emotional situations, and identifying when you need help and support.  Treatment for addiction relapse, counseling, and aftercare can help you do this, so please call us today. Destination Hope is a full-service addiction and health treatment facility in Florida for men and women who suffer from substance abuse and behavioral health issues.


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