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.


Anonymous said...

We have a child (20 - an adult now) who is unable to kick the habit (cannabis). He has been using now for 5 years (we have known for 2 years).
Even though I have cut off all money He hangs around with the same set of friends who share their cannabis with him. He goes to college but doing very poorly. Is there anything else we can do.

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Just wanted to say thank you.

Anonymous said...

I can say with experience that it's a heart-wrenching process to learn to stop enabling your own child's addiction by "helping" them. Some fights they have to go through on their own, with family support of course, but not the kind that just perpetuates the problem. My son is going through a drug rehab as I write, and it's been a major change for my life as well. I hope we can both get better and learn to act in ways that are healthy and productive.

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I have a son, 24 years old, that has recently started using cocaine. We have been to a rehab center seeking in-house rehab. He did not qualify because he has a job, lives with his girlfried, and has family support. Since they have told him that he has gone out of control. Stealing checks, scaring his 86 year old grandmother into giving him money, and about to loose his job. He claims he can quit on his own, I know it is a lie. He lives with his girlfriend and her family and they totally adore him. I know what kind of theif and liar he is but he doesn't steal or lie to them. I don't know what else to do, I feel I need to do something so he doesn't become a problem for society. As a last resort I will put him jail but really want him to get help. Is there anything else I can do for him.

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My husband has spent the last 4 yrs addicted to marijuana. he fails to see this as a problem. it is effecting our relationship as well as hsi relationship with our children. his free time seems to revolve around smoking it or getting it. or he sleeps all day and stays up smoking all night. i have started therapy due to a desperate attempt to save our marriage. he says he has no desire to quit and has spent the last 4 yrs lying and hiding things from me. i dont know what i could change that would make anything better or worse and im desperate to fix things. any advice? please help.