As an alcohol and drug counselor, I’ve had the pleasure of working with hundreds of addicts and their families.
The addict’s family are usually the ones who make that first call. They get the proverbially treatment ball, rolling. They’re often the payer, counselor, jailer, and controller, of the addict. At times they come into treatment looking worse than the addicted ones do. They’re tired, exhausted even. Desperate upon arrival, they want answers. Just as the addicted person’s primary relationship is with their drug of choice, so too, is the family member’s primary relationship with the substance abuser.
This means that both parties have crossed the line and developed mental obsession. Their thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, are consuming them.
When the addicted person enters into the treatment process, so does their family. Although families believe it’s the addict who needs to make all the changes, truth is, they need to make changes too.
Plans are made, contracts are drawn up and both parties are asked to get to work. Identifying the role you play in your addiction, or someone else’s, is never easy. Truth hurts. Change is scary.
I hear it time and time again, ‘Well that’s great advice. I just wish it were that easy.’
Seriously folks, we need to eliminate the word ‘easy’ from our vocabulary, when it comes to treating and recovering from, addiction.
It’s easy to get high.
It’s easy to enable your addicted family member.
It seems we’re all looking for the easy way out, or ‘quick fix.’
It’s like doing your job. I’d like to skip to the paycheck please, without ever having to do the work.
Sounds crazy, but that’s what addict’s and their families do. They skip over the hard stuff like consequences, and setting boundaries, looking instead, for the easy button.
Easy, isn’t real. It won’t get, or keep, you sober. Easy is wishful thinking.
It’s a no brainer to me that addict’s use. If you don’t understand why, chances are you’re not an addict. It’s not something you can make sense of. It would be like trying to figure out why a frog is green. The best I can come up with – it just is. Addiction is illogical and irrational. However the debate keeps us disconnected from our emotions, which I believe, addiction is truly about.
I call it a feeling, or more precisely, not feeling, dis-ease.
Having struggled with addiction for many years, I look back and understand the disastrous choices I made. It makes sense to me why I ran my life, and my families, into the ground. My thinking was impaired. I was using copious amounts of alcohol, cocaine, pills, weed, and whatever else I could get my hands on, almost daily. If you can’t drive a car under these conditions, you certainly can’t function as a parent, wife, employee or friend.
Why addicts behave the way they do, makes perfect sense. They’re impaired!
What doesn’t make sense is the family’s response to it.
With a ‘sober’ mind their ability to make healthy choices, become every bit as impaired, as their addicted loved one. They co-sign and co-aid the addict’s sick choices, cleaning up their messes, bailing them out and making excuses for, unhealthy and sometimes abusive, behaviour.
Simply put, families help their addict to stay sick. They literally love them, to death.
There is no easy button when recovering from addiction. There’s only hard work and uncomfortable emotions, interspersed with freedom, hope and joy.
It’s a little like having the flu. Everything has to come out, before it gets better.
The difference in the life of someone before treatment and after – is nothing short of a miracle.
Going to treatment was one of the scariest things I ever did. It was also the best thing I ever did. Truth is it’s far harder to live the way you’re living, than it will ever be to get help.
If you’re allowing fear to make the choice for you, chances are you haven’t grown up, emotionally. In your adult body, lives a scared little kid.
Scared or not, I encourage you to reach out. The only thing scarier than going to treatment is continuing to live the way you are now.
Although there’s no quick fix when recovering from addiction, there is hope.
Addiction is very treatable. With the right help, the outcome is highly successful. If you were a cancer patient, you’d be overjoyed to hear such news.
It’s never too late to show up for your life. Peace of mind and freedom from the bondage of self, are just two of the many gifts you’ll receive in recovery. So what are you waiting for? The only real failure in life, is never having tried.
Hindsight is 20/20. It’s easy to look back after experiencing a tragic incident and wished you’d got help sooner. The only thing worse than staying stuck in addiction for one more day, is staying two.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance.
Best wishes, Lorelie Rozzano.