Thursday, November 29, 2012

Am I doing the "Right Thing?"

Thank you for taking the time to comment on posts that you found interesting. There is a common question within many of the comments and that question is. "Am I doing the right thing?" People become anxious about what the specific, right, behavior should be in a given situation. Should I visit my mother if she feels I betrayed her? Should I withhold?, should I do more? I've done A,B and C, what else can I do? The answer to all these questions is not found in a specific behavior. There is no "right thing (answer)."  The answer is related to your decision about the direction you want your relationship with the addicted person to move toward. I maintain that it is always better to have a relationship with the addicted person, if possible, but on your terms.

 The most important skill you have to learn is how to deal with uncertainty and suffering. In order to do this it is important to seek help. You will find it when you seek out a community of other people who are struggling with the same type of issues. (AlaNon, Families Anonymous, Naranon)

Another important point. It is very important to take care of yourself but what is the difference between manipulation and honestly taking care of yourself. When you manipulate you are attempting to have control over someone else and force a specific outcome from them. When you take care of yourself you are creating an outcome for yourself not someone else. Sometimes there is a fine line between taking care of yourself and manipulation. Try to keep in mind that your first goal is your own well being. You can't be of assistance to anyone else if you are a wreck.

This brings us to the holiday season. This can be very problematic in many ways for families dealing with an addicted family member. All you can do is the best that you can. It is important to have support and use that support to deal with the upsetting emotions that will come up  during this time.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Nobody Wants to Suffer

Over the years that I have been writing this blog there have been posts on taking care of yourself, reaching out to others, understanding that your loved one's addiction is not your fault, learning that all addicts manipulate and sometimes our good intentions lead us in the wrong direction. What does all this mean???

It means that if you want to reduce your suffering and possibly help the addict in your life you are going to have to make some changes in your own life.

Many people would come to the family class and of course want answers about how to solve their family member's addiction. They would want to know  "How can I help them... get into treatment, stop using, talk some sense into them." They soon discovered that we didn't know the specific answer for their family member but a solution lay in improving the well being of those close to the addict and learning new skills in interacting with the addict and each other.  This would require them to make some changes in their own life.  For many this was just too overwhelming or they didn't believe it and they didn't come back.

Change is difficult, very difficult, both for the addict and the members of an addicted persons family. People have long standing habits of thinking and feeling. Some of these habits contribute to our suffering.

These habits may have worked in the past but now they don't work. We certainly don't want our children to suffer and we try to relieve that suffering. Isn't it what we are suppose to do as "good" parents.

One of the tough skills we help parents to learn is not to automatically relieve their children's suffering when it is related to addiction (These children can be anywhere from teens to senior citizens). This isn't an all or nothing deal. People attending the class would do the best that they could and made progress. We teach that you should never do or not do anything that you are emotionally not able to follow through on and accept the consequences of the decision. In other words they don't start off by kicking the addict out on the street but might stop doing their laundry or buying them cigarettes.

Addicts are very resourceful. They may not like it but and of course will blame you but they will adjust. Addicts don't respond to logical thought about their addiction just experiences. If there is no consequences to their addiction there is no reason to change.

One more thing. If, for example, you decide to stop doing your loved ones laundry or stop buying the cigarettes to manipulate them in some way you will be disappointed.  This intervention should only be done because it makes your life better not to make the addict behave in some way.