Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Understand Enabling

There is nothing family members can do that is wrong but there is is a lot they can do that is unproductive.

Isolation, shame, fear, anger and trying to control the wrong things are the biggest hurdles the family must overcome. Family members want to know; How can we help? The first step in helping is to find support reduce the isolation related to the addiction is your family.

It is important to understand that what ever you do to "help" must, first, be motivated by the need to take care of yourself, both, physically and emotionally. Family members tend to put their emotional well being into the hands of an addicted person who has no control over their own well being. They say to themselves, "I can never be happy unless my loved one stops using drugs." By doing this family members make themselves into emotional hostages to their loved one's addiction. When this happens the family winds up feeling the pain and anxiety that the addicted person should be feeling and needs to feel to have a chance of making a decision to get help.

When family members buffer the addict from the consequences of their addiction they rob the addict of an opportunity to struggle with a crisis that may give them the motivation to seek help. Why do family members do this? Because they think they are "suppose" to rescue their loved one and because they are also trying to soothe their own anxiety. If family members reach out and allow themselves to get support they can learn to not do for the addicted person what they should be doing for themselves.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Develop Boundaries

Pain is the best friend of the addicted person. One of the very important skills for family members to learn is to be able to allow the addicted person to feel the consequences of their behavior. The family member may be addicted to trying to make a positive outcome happen for the addicted person. In the process of trying to make things better, walking on egg shells, and of taking care of the addicts responsibilities the family members protect the addicted person from feeling the pain that they need to feel in order to change in some way.

Developing boundaries is so important for the family member. It is important for the family member gradually understand that their loved one's addiction is not their problem. Their loved one's addiction effects them but it is not the issue they have to learn to manage. Families must learn to manage their response to their loved one's addiction in a way that is healthy for them and their whole family.

It is very important for family members to get support and learn the facts about addiction.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Where To Get Help

Focus on what you have control over, not what you do not have control over. We try to have an effect on our loved one's thought process by appealing to their "common sense" and we think, "how can you not see what you are doing to yourself." We don't understand that we are not dealing with "just" bad choices. We are dealing with a disease process, a brain disease that does not respond to logic or argument. The disease is not logical and exists independent of our thought process. The addicted person can only respond to consequences.

So, what do we have control over? We have control over our environment and we have control over our response to the addiction in our family. What have we been doing? We have been trying to control the addicted person's attitude, behavior, friends, habits, and becoming more and more frustrated and feeling more and more powerless. While we are doing these things our environment is falling apart and how we react to the situation becomes based more on fear and anxiety than understanding.

How do I begin to control my environment and my response? In order to do this we need to begin to develop boundaries between ourselves and the addicted person. we have to begin to understand what our problems are and what their problems are. For example, your loved one's addiction is not your problem. It effects you and is painful for you, but, your problem is how well you respond to the addicted person's issues. No matter how hard you try you will never be able to solve their problem, only they can do that. This does not mean that you don't love them, want the best for them, nor does it mean you abandon them. It mean that you are developing a clear understanding on what the issues are and who is responsible for solving what problems. Remember the three C's; You didn't Cause it, You can't Control it, and You can't Cure it.

Family members need support to deal with these issues. It is very important to find an Alanon or Alateen group so you can be around other going through similar experience. In Hawaii there are also family education classes for the family members of the addicted person. These classes are held at Hina Mauka and are on Thursday nights. One is held at the Waipahu office and the other is held at the Kaneohe facility. Call 236-2600 for information.