Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's Not Your Fault

It's not your fault. Family members want to know what they can do to help their loved one. What is the one thing they haven't found out yet that is the answer for creating a positive outcome for their son, daughter, husband, wife, brother, sister. In the struggle to help their loved one family members gradually put more and more of their own emotional wellbeing into the hands of the addicted person. who has no control over their own wellbeing. The family members world begins to shrink and is more and more focused on the addict. This situation causes tremendous levels of pain and anxiety for the family members.
The answer to the question of how can they help lies in what the family members think is going on. What the family members think is true about addiction, what they perceive their responsibilities are, and what family members are emotionally willing and able to do in response ti the addiction in their family.

For example the idea that addiction is a disease process that neither the addict nor the family member have any control over may be very confusing to the family member. Many family members do not understand what that means or are not really convinced that it is true. Every major health organization in the world agrees that addiction is a disease but, unless the family member is able to understand this and act on it the information doesn't help them. Family members will say things like, "how can it be a disease, they do it to themselves?" What the family members are seeing is actually the compusive behavior and drug seeking of the addict that is the result of changes in the brain caused by the disease process of addiction.

You would think that people with lung cancer or emphyzema would stop smoking but many do not because of their addiction to nicotine. The brain is altered because of the chronic drug use and fools the addict is thinking that their drug of choice, whether it is Ice, Alcohol, Nicotine, Cocaine is what makes life worth living, not family, friends, job. This is why the addict will endure all type of hardship, create chaos, lose everything around them because they are chasing the thing that they think is good for them. I never met an addict that wanted the pain that they caused for themselves but they can't stop.

Friday, August 25, 2006

What Addicted People Do

Of course, that's what addicts do! Addicts lie, manipulate, steal, make bad, impulsive decisions. We scratch our heads and wonder, how could they do that? Don't they see what a mess they are making of their lives? Family members are thinking logically but addiction is not logical. We want to help so we take care of the addict in ways that shield them from the consequences of their addiction. We take on the pain they should be feeling. Family members eventually must learn that nagging, preaching, threatening, or lecturing the addict is a waste of their time. The addict does not have anymore control over their disease process than you do, which is none. Neither the addict nor their family member wants to accept this reality and it causes a tremendous level of pain and chaos. When the family member begins to accept this reality then healing can begin for them. The same way that the addict must accept that they are powerless over their addiction the family member do the same. the family members addiction is trying to control the addicts disease.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Addiction the Brain Disease

What's going on? Why is it important to the family members to begin to truely understand that their loved one is caught in a disease process? It is important for family members to learn that the addict has no control over what is going on with him/her and that this condition is a brain disease that the addict can't simply decide not to have. It isn't personal, even though it effects those close to the addict. Addiction is a brain disease that alters the way addicts think and feel about their world and those in their world.
Why is addiction a brain disease? Because it changes the way the brain functions. The part on the brain that is most effected by addiction is the part of the brain that controls our drive for survival. With addiction the brain is fooled by the drugs and the addict begins to think that their drug of choice is needed for their own emotional survival. They start to believe that their drug of choice is what makes life worth living. The disease of addiction replaces the normal types of experiences such as positive relationships with families, jobs, physical activity, good nutrition as markers of wellbeing with the ability to access and use their drug of choice. It is not personal. the goal of every addict is to use their drug of choice successfully. They can never succeed at this and their struggle to accomplish this results in the creation of a tremendous level of chaos for both themselves and their loved ones.
As the family members begin to see addiction as a disease process that neither they nor the addict have any control over they can begin to learn and implement the three C's. The three C's for family members are: They didn't Cause it, They can't Control it, and they can't Cure it.
How does an addict get help if they can't control their disease process? The addicts best friend is pain. It is very important for people with the disease of addiction to be allowed to feel the consequences of their addiction. Of course many times family members make every effort to shield the addict from the consequences of their addiction. All this does is create a situation where the family members feel the pain that the addict should be feeling. The addict needs the painful experience to know they have a problem.