Addict: “Just one more… and then I’ll stop … Just the one… and that will be it…
… and as the hours fly past… and more becomes all… and all …becomes …everything…
…I’ll stop tomorrow – easy.
I’m Fine It’s all good.”
It’s never “easy” – watching someone at full flight in the centre of the maelstrom of their addiction. Whether it’s a drug, alcohol, eating or any one of a number of issues that plague the person you love it’s a harrowing stage – and one that at times seems to have no end or solution in sight.
Being strong and in charge for your loved one is good and necessary. So is understanding the fact that they are constantly in the throes of wrestling with their problem, and the chaos that becomes a regular part of life for you and your loved one – and the immediate family, is not permanent.
I’m Fine -we all must be Fine
Families experience a divergence of emotions including sadness, guilt, hopelessness, anger, frustration, and fear. Many of the family members including you will have exhausted any coping mechanisms and resources to influence your loved one in the direction of change. Pleading, threatening, arguing, confronting and avoiding have all probably been tried with limited success. A big issue to consider is that because of the stressful environment, you and other of your family members may be besieged with your own issues including anxiety, depression and trauma in part due to and/or aggravated by the stress.
To help ease and attempt to bring things to a more normal state of being we have outlined a number of suggestions that may increase the likelihood of getting your loved one to engage in treatment (or change of any sort!) while keeping you as healthy as possible.
Your own self-care is essential.
Establish your own personal limits.
Gain an understanding of the terms “addict,” “enabler” and “co-dependent”, so to remove the stigma that so often surrounds them
Learn to converse in a non-judgmental way. Explain to your loved one and family that this struggle is different for everyone, and that there are any number of paths to change that could be helpful.
Recognize strengths of the loved one. Validate their experience. Acknowledge that their abusive behaviours do not define who they are as a person.
Make a commitment to addressing your own issues (including seeking your own treatment) with your loved one. Own your piece of the struggle.
Empathize with the predicament of ambivalence that the loved one faces.
Respond effectively to the expected ambivalence and subsequent reluctance to change from your loved one. Understand their point of view. Stay away from threats. Invitation works better.
Seek outside consultation from a clinician you trust. Learning how to communicate with your loved one in the most optimal way takes time. Learn to control the way you deliver a message.
Suggest the first visit to a mental health provider be simply “an initial consult to find out what treatment options exist.” The focus of the consult could be managing stress and anxiety and not necessarily a particular disorder.
Though there is a wealth of good and helpful information available, regrettably, there too is an abundance of dangerous misinformation and so called cures available to the general public regarding the treatment of addictive disorders.
A good, or rather, bad example are the reality television shows often that portray dramatic and provocative “interventions” that claim to effect drastic change. Unfortunately, these types of approaches rarely work and can serve to alienate and shame the individual, often leaving him or her with lower self-esteem, self-hatred and more desperate to escape. Unfortunately the person being confronted is often still under the influence of a substance leaving them compromised, disinhibited, self-justifying, and demonstrating poor judgment with an inability to comprehend the nature of the intervention.
Houghton House offers a nurturing and involved treatment plan with Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Care. Support through the stages for you, your loved one and if necessary the family is also provided. Many of our patients develop an enthusiasm and want to stop abusive behaviour once they are engaged in a treatment program and exposed to the option of recovery.
Just one more and then I’ll stop.