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.