“Where did I go
“Why didn’t I
“What could I have
“It’s my fault!”
These are all exclamations that are uttered by family
members and loved ones of addicts. The feeling of guilt and anger are
completely reasonable, but if you are going to be involved with the addicted
family member, these emotions must be faced head-on. Seek an understanding that
your loved one has a disease and the “trickster” that resides in their mind is
not going to go away or “get fixed”.
Communication is Key! Get educated about recovery.
Understand that your loved one has a disease – their symptoms are lying,
manipulation, stealing and behaviors aren’t “normal” and that is because their
brain doesn’t work like a healthy brain. An addicted brain seeks the
stimulation and feeling from drugs that defy all rational explanation. Many addicts are aware that their behavior
will result in death, theirs and potentially others. This would seem like a life altering,
behavior modifying, and impetus to live sober, work a program and chose
Do you keep a dry house? In order to offer the support and
structure that will complement a sober lifestyle, the household must be dry.
That means, no alcohol, faux-alcohol, illicit drugs, and maintaining an open
line of communication between family members and the addict. Imagine if your
loved one was diabetic, would you keep a buffet of sugary sweets around your
house and eat them in front of them? More than likely, probably not, so why
place the addict in an environment that isn’t conducive to their health? Taking
the position that you don’t have the problem, it is the addict’s problem will
never create an environment conducive to sobriety and recovery. The addict does not exist in a vacuum. While the responsibility for the choices and
actions do rest solely with the addict.
Recovery and Sobriety are team sports.
Family members can choose to be on the team or not, but the addict
cannot and will not maintain sobriety and work a program of recovery on their
Loved ones need to surrender along with the addict.
Addiction isn’t a matter of control, on the part of the addict and the part of
the loved one (who may or may not be co-dependent or an enabler), you can’t
control the disease. As an addict, you only have control over your first drink
and as a loved one, you only have control over what you bring into the house,
what your response it to the addict’s drug and alcohol induced behavior and actions.
Be sure to seek and maintain support for yourself as
well. Loving an addict is hard
work. It was hard when they weren’t
sober, and it will be hard when they are sober.
Many programs are available for family members, spouses, and friends of
addicts. These groups will be a lifeline
to you as you support and work the recovery program of your loved one. Addiction is a family disease and each member
that wishes to remain in a relationship with the addict needs to have an
understanding of the disease of addiction, working with a professional in the
addiction field can yield those results.
Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life/Recovery Coach in Agoura Hills
and on Celebrity Rehab. She is also the author of “The Law of Sobriety.” Contact Sherry at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about her teleseminars, upcoming book signings, speaking engagements, workshops, and coaching packages.