Before I tell you the circumstances in which they feel bad, I need you to understand why they usually don't feel so bad about it in the earlier stages of addiction. They typically don't feel bad about it because they feel like they deserve it.
The thinking is, "Hey, I work hard; I provide for this family." But, on the other hand, if they're young, they may think, "Everyone does it. I'm a teenager; I'm a college kid; what's the big deal?"
In later stages of addiction, it's not so much that they feel like they deserve it, but the truth is they're in survival mode, meaning they have to, and so the thinking in their mind is, "I have to this, we're in survival mode here. I have to tell a lie. I have to take the money, be dishonest about where I'm going or what I'm doing." So in the later stages of addiction, you constantly try to outrun this monster. Sometimes I describe it as being on a treadmill. For example, if you're addicted to pain pills, you are probably on a four-hour treadmill. You have to figure out how to get more every four hours, or you'll be sick. So you're constantly trying to outrun the withdrawal, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping, which puts you in survival mode.
Sometimes, there are small windows of feeling like they've wronged you. But, whatever little seeds of feeling bad about it that they're dealing with, they also have these ninja rationalization abilities to make that feeling bad about what they're doing get even less than it was. They tell themselves they're going to make it right.
Let's say they steal something from you, miss an important event, or don't fulfill one of their obligations. They're likely telling themselves that they're going to make it up or make it right, and they're going to fix it. This thinking temporarily satisfies that uncomfortable feel-bad thing about it. Still, they immediately return to outrunning that tidal wave coming at them. They can't come back to it because they can never stop running.
Another surprising way they make that little bit of feeling bad about it go away is by telling themselves that YOU deserve it. *GASP*
I know what you're thinking. "But, whoa, Amber, hold up. Are they thinking that? Because that's just adding insult to injury."
I get it. You're right. The thing about it is that the person in the addicted state most likely feels very hurt. Some of the hurt they're experiencing can be real, and some of that hurt they're experiencing can be a projection or a way that they're feeling sorry for themselves.
Usually, if you're dealing with an addicted loved one, you're mad at them; you're nagging them, you're begging them, you're making them feel guilty, you're doing all this stuff which they perceive as hurtful because it is painful and so they feel hurt by you, so that makes them feel wrong a little less.
Lastly, they don't feel that bad about it because they're under the anesthesia of their addictive substance or behavior. They're constantly medicating it, so they're turning off that part of their brain that would make them feel bad about it. When you're in this situation with a family member, you probably have the instinct to make them want to recognize how bad they're hurting you by telling them.
Reminding them that they're hurting you is one of the least valuable things you can do. Is it fair? Yes, but it's NOT effective.
I know I promised to tell you about the time they feel bad about it, and they usually start to feel bad about it once they get sober. Not immediately, they have to get past the crazy uncomfortable survival part of getting sober. Still, once they do that, they have less shame to deal with and start emotionally and psychologically healing.
They start to look back and see the situation much more objectively, and as their ego gets more assertive and as they heal, they get out of that survival mode. They can see the problem more clearly, and most people can eventually be honest with themselves about the damage and destruction they caused.
If you want to expedite that process, watch these videos below, which are not only going to help you to help your loved one see the situation more honestly, but it's going to motivate them to make changes much faster.