This is for those of you in relationship with the person about whom you’re concerned, be it family, friends, or coworkers. Our goal here is to get you the needed help for yourselves. Please do something for yourself as well. It’s been well documented that people around addictive behaviors are significantly impacted, often with common and predictable symptoms of their own. Frequently people are not even aware they exhibit them.
We’ve found the whole family benefits not only from positive education on addiction, but also from their own self exploration, recognizing their own beliefs and behaviors which may be unhelpful to the addicted person, to yourself or your family.
We’ve found that perhaps the least helpful thing loved ones can do is lack a true understanding of addiction. Like society in general, most of us have our own preconceived beliefs about addiction. It’s very common for loved ones to say: “what do you mean I should get some help–he’s the one with the problem!” It appears logical: “If she hadn’t been doing that, we wouldn’t be here.” Yes, that is true, but clearly this is now a problem that has significant implications for you as well. It’s not your fault. They do need to be held responsible. And while it’s not fair, unfortunately there is some responsibility we all need to take to remedy the current reality in which we find ourselves.
This is often difficult for many people, especially parents, because naturally there’s a sensitivity to being blamed or held responsible. This isn’t about fault; it’s about moving forward. There’s often guilt, shame, anger, fear, and hurt feelings. We are less concerned with the past and more concerned about the present–what do we do now? How do we cope with this? Do we forgive, and how? How do we move on?
We can help.
Common questions people are struggling with:
- What will we do if he/she doesn’t stop?
- What if it turns out I’ve been enabling?
- What if he/she threatens to leave?
- What if he/she is abusive, or threatens?
Common unhelpful beliefs:
- He/she can’t be an addict [because he doesn’t look like one, because she’s successful, etc]
- When he/she finally quits, then everything will be ok.
- He/she is weak willed.
- Really they’re just depressed and using as a way to cope.