Sunday, April 20, 2014

Isolation And What Is Normal

Comment Received
Everyone in my family or origin is a non functioning alcoholic. My dad passed away three years ago, without warning, from the effects of the disease. My mom starts drinking everyday at noon and abuses prescription pills. My older brother and my younger brother are both chronic alcoholics and have many financial, personal and legal problems. I have tried to evolve and learn about this disease my entire life but because of the progression of this disease I find myself isolated .and struggling to be normal. I am grieving .the loss of my entire family, yet, they are still alive. Do you have any suggestions for me.

You are experiencing  universal issues connected to families and addiction and that is isolation, loss and the struggle to understand what is normal. 

Living in a family struggling with addiction changes the perceptions of all the family members.
Family members become embarrassed, or anxious, or angry about the addiction. They struggle to help and eventually as nothing seems works they take on certain chronic emotional roles in order to survive emotionally themselves. As the addiction goes over time the idea of what is normal is lost under layers of defensive emotional roles that buffer the pain.

Similar to you I grew up in an alcoholic family and I know that trying to be "normal", when you have no experience of what "normal" is can be very confusing.

While the importance of "family" cannot be overstated and having someone to trust is very important  this doesn't have to be a biological family member.  It is very important to have mentors that you can trust and work with in dealing with your emotions.  For some people these are counselors or sponsors or teachers. Anyone struggling with the issue of addiction in their family must identify mentors outside the family to begin learning the skills and insights needed to heal the emotional turmoil that addiction creates.

It is important to spend time with others who are also dealing with this issue such as in an Al-Anon, a Families Anonymous Group or a family class at a treatment center.

Please make every effort to understand that you have nothing to be ashamed of.

Read books articles about addiction and emotional healing.

Do healthy activities that make you feel both emotionally and physically good about yourself.

If you do these thing over time you will find that, at some point you have become a resource, and are a help to others who are beginning their own path to understanding.

Saturday, April 05, 2014


 By the time family members seek help they are pretty anxious if not very fearful. They haven't been able to fully grasp what they are dealing with. They are not dealing with their son, daughter, spouse or parent. They are dealing with a disease process. This is not easy to understand. There is a wonderful Japanese analogy of what happens in addiction. "First the man takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes the man." When families seek help their loved one is usually in the second or third stage of this analogy.

The first step for the family is to realize that they have no control over the disease of addiction and then to learn what they can control how they respond to the addict, their environment and how they allow others to treat them. The second step is to learn how to implement these concepts.

Addicts get into treatment for only one reason and that is pain. It might be emotional , financial, medical  or legal that breaks through their system of denial.