Do addicts know they are hurting you?

3 min read

Do addicts know they are hurting you? This is a difficult question to answer. Addiction is a complex condition that affects not only the individual struggling with substance abuse but also those close to them, such as family members, friends and partners.

When a person becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, their behaviours can cause harm to those around them, leading to questions about whether or not the addict is aware of the damage they are causing.

In this blog we will answer this question by giving insight into the nature of the disease of addiction and how it affects the behaviour and perceptions of the addict.

Addiction is a brain disease

The nature of addiction is such that it often clouds the judgment of the individual and makes it difficult for them to recognise the impact their actions have on others. This is because addiction alters brain chemistry and alters the way an individual thinks and perceives their surroundings. The brain becomes fixated on the substance of abuse, leading to a priority of obtaining and using the substance over other things, including relationships and responsibilities.

However, it is important to remember that addiction is a brain disease and that those who struggle with it are not inherently bad or malicious. They are often not fully aware of the extent to which their actions are hurting those around them. They may have a general idea that they are causing harm, but they may not fully understand the severity of the damage they are inflicting.

The role of denial

In many cases, the addict may be in denial about their behaviour and the consequences it is having on their loved ones. This can make it difficult for them to accept that they have a problem and to seek help. Additionally, the shame and guilt associated with addiction can also contribute to denial and prevent the addict from acknowledging the pain they are causing.

It is also important to consider that addiction can cause significant changes in a person’s personality, leading them to act in ways that are completely out of character. This can make it difficult for those close to the addict to recognise the person they once knew and love. The addict’s behaviour may become unpredictable and their actions may seem irrational, causing further harm to their relationships.

Importance of communication

Despite the challenges associated with addiction, it is important for those close to the addict to communicate the impact their behaviour is having.

This can be a difficult and emotional process but can also be a step towards healing and recovery. By opening up about the pain they are experiencing, those close to the addict can help them understand the harm they are causing and encourage them to seek help.


While the answer to the question “Do addicts know they are hurting you?” is not a simple one, it is important to consider the complex nature of addiction and its impact on the brain.

Addiction can cause individuals to behave in ways that are not typical for them and to become detached from the reality of their actions and the harm they are causing.

However, with support, communication and treatment, those struggling with addiction can begin to understand the impact of their behaviour and work towards recovery and healing for themselves and those close to them.

Jaco de Beer

Beyond his professional pursuits, Jaco has a deep affinity for music. An avid guitar player, he derives immense joy from the strings of his instrument. Sharing his love for music with others, Jaco often intertwines the therapeutic nature of melodies with his counselling approach, creating a harmonious blend of guidance and comfort.

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