First it is important to understand where I'm coming from. What I talk about is based on my belief that addiction is a disease process that neither the family member nor the addicted person have any control over. People that have come to my class over the last 12 years have had a range of beliefs about this and that is fine. The important point is that they are willing to make changes to improve their own lives that have been disrupted by the disease process of addiction.
If you can't control the disease what can you control? There are two areas of our lives we neglect and can control: 1. Our response to the addiction. Not just a reaction based on fear and anxiety but a plan of action. 2. Our environment, where we live and what we allow in our lives.
Family members need support to take back their home and take back their lives. One opportunity for this is with AlaNon/ Alateen. For more information on AlaNon/Alateen follow the link on this blog. Also read the book "Addict in the Family" published by
Hazelden. Addiction pulls families apart. Within the family there may be different responses. Try to find as many areas of agreement as possible, even if it is only that our loved one is an addict. Treat each other with respect, everyone is responding to a very stressful situation.
This is a process of recovery for the family. Taking back your home is for you not the addicted person. Don't do this if your real goal is to manipulate your loved one into treatment. Also you should not do anything you are not willing to follow through on and believe is the right thing to do.
Family members start this process in a variety of ways. All families need education and support to be clear on what they believe about addiction. Also family members need to agree on what behavior change they will make and are willing to follow through on, whether it is stopping doing their son's laundry to kicking their loved one out or finding the ability to have their loved one arrested if they steal from them or break into the house. The message you are giving the addicted person is that, we love you, your behavior unacceptable, and I can't control your addiction (as much as I would like to) but I am taking control of my life.
Don't do anything you aren't willing to follow through on. This isn't a trick to cause them pain so they will go to treatment. This isn't even about the addict, it is about the family making healthy choices for themselves. Whether you stop the money, change the locks, press charges because of stealing or breaking in you must be consistent.
What do we say to the addict? This isn't a debate or a discussion. Make simple, clear statements, such as; We love you, You need treatment, Here is a list of treatment programs in the area, We will no longer support your addiction, We will support your recovery.
Remember the three C's. for families: You didn't Cause it, You can't Control it, You can't Cure it.