Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Regain your balance

Anyone who has flown in a commercial aircraft has had the emergency instructions explained to them by the flight attendant prior to takeoff. What is the procedure for when the oxygen mask drops down? The procedure is too put the mask on yourself first, before you try to help anyone else.

People are always asking how can I help my loved one? You start by getting help for yourself first, why? Because you are the one that actually knows there is a problem and that help is needed.

Addiction is a medical condition that deeply affects all family members and one of the hallmarks of addiction in the family is a loss of control. This happens to all families everywhere in the world that are struggling with addiction. Unfortunately we try to regain control by struggling to control the addicted persons behavior. This tactic usually leaves family members feeling even more out of control.

One of the first skills to learn is to give up control of the outcome for someone else. Why would I say this? Addiction is a condition that directly impacts the central nervous system. along with all others. Addiction alters the brain and the brain chemistry and changes the way addicted people think and perceive the world. One part of the brain that is controlled by addiction is the survival and pleasure centers of the brain. This is that part of the brain that is very basic and controls our survival instincts. Because of the ways that drugs change this part or the brain the addicted person believes that their drug of choice is what makes life worth living. Not family, Not a career, Not relationships, Not financial stability. It's all about the drug. This is a perception that they believe and it drives their decision making. This is a hard concept for families to understand. It is not personal it's the way the disease process changes brain chemistry. This is what you are dealing with. This is why you need help on this road.

Addiction isn't just bad decision making, although, that happens. It is a medical condition that one can't just decide not to have anymore than one can decide not to have diabetes or high blood pressure.

Regaining our balance means taking time out to take care of ourselves. Acknowledge that we have a problem that effects everyone in the family, not just the addicted person. We don't get in balance by struggling to get the addict to stop using or spend our time trying to get the addicted person into treatment. That is actually their job. It is dangerous for you to connect your feelings of well being to the actions of an addicted person who has no control over their own well being.