Putting the Focus On Me
Being enmeshed with your addicted loved one can be, in a word, painful. There is no end to your partner and no beginning for you. There is no separation or individualism. His problems are your problems. Her feelings are your feelings. You like what he likes. When you are asked what you like, you are not sure. You often look to her to approve your choices. When your partner doesn’t do what you want and you can’t control the situation, it makes you crazy. You have to know where he is, what she is doing and whom he is with. Does this sound familiar? It is all crazy making behaviour and it can make both of you miserable.
Enabling can be dangerous. It prevents the addict form becoming willing to seek help for his addiction. For change to occur, the pain of addiction has to become greater than the fear of living without using or drinking. If an addict has someone who is always bailing him out, he never reaches the full consequences of his behaviour.
Gaslighting – It Makes Us Feel Like A Puppet
Have you ever had a discussion with someone that leaves you feeling dumbfounded and rattled? I spent a lot of my childhood feeling like I was crazy because my Dad would always want me to change my thoughts and opinions. It was to the point where I just stopped having any ideas or thoughts of my own. I felt like everything I did and thought was wrong. This pattern repeated again in my marriage. It was very familiar and I didn’t like it. I would walk away from arguments not knowing what had just happened. I only knew I had given in again.
Help Yourself Help Your Addicted Child
We all get overwhelmed or stressed out sometimes. Usually the stress is due to an event, a particular conflict with a loved one or friend or a situation at work. We know how to cope with these situations and they do eventually pass.
It is different when living with or being close to someone with an addiction. When addiction is a factor, you, the people close to the addict, lose perspective on pretty much everything because you are in constant survival mode. You live in fight, flee or freeze mode. Everything you do is a reaction. How do you start to handle things in a different way so you are not walking on eggshells or feel like everything is confrontational and chaotic?
Why You Need To Put Yourself First
Addiction has a way of slowly robbing us of ourselves. What I mean by that is,
over time, as a person who is close to an addict, we spend more and more time
taking care of and managing our addicted loved one. We lose the ability to focus on
or take care of anything else including ourselves. It happens without us even
realizing it. We stop doing the little things we enjoy. We don’t take time out to read a book or get our nails done. We start cutting corners and giving up things because we are concerned about being available for addicted loved one.
It's Not Selfish - It's Self Preservation!
Addiction has a way of wearing us out. In a previous post, we talked about how we tend not to be able to function properly when someone close to us is an addict. We spend more time taking care of them and focusing on their needs then our own. I talked about the signs that you’re worn out and questions to ask yourself. If you haven’t read it, check it out HERE.
Stop The Isolation of Addiction
We’ve been talking a lot about addiction and isolation and as mentioned in the article “Strategies To Alleviate Stress of Living with an Addict,” one of the solutions to breaking your family’s cycle of addiction, is connection. As human beings, we all need some kind of connection with other people. When we are suffering from an addiction whether it be a person, place or thing, it cripples our ability to have any kind of healthy connection with others.
The Slippery Slope From Injury to Addiction
It seems that every time I turn on the television or go online, I am seeing more about drug addiction, fentanyl and someone suffering an overdose. There is definitely an epidemic right now and people are dying. The thing is, no one seems to know what to do about it. Parents are throwing up their hands, bewildered by the problem and terrified their child is going to die.
When you think of your child’s substance abuse, I imagine you think of it as one great big problem that needs to be solved all at once. That is not true. Your child’s substance use is a problem with a whole host of other problems attached like communication, behaviour, friend choices, school attendance and performance and the list goes on and on. This framework will give you a strategy to solve any problem.
There are 7 steps for solving problems. This approach will help you work through the problem systematically and thoroughly. You can do the steps on your own or with your child. I suggest you do them with your child because you want him to have input and come up with a solution that he will do. This exercise is a waist of time if you are not putting yourself in his shoes and looking at it from his perspective. What better way to get his perspective than to do it together?
You probably already use some of these steps we are going to talk about. Give yourself plenty of credit having this information. What you don’t already know will take practice. You are developing new skills and when we are practicing we will make mistakes and need to be patient with ourselves. Remember too that your child is learning new skills too and he needs to practice as well. It is good for him to see you make mistakes. It gives him permission to make mistakes too.
Step One – Define the Problem Often what people think as the problem is actually a bunch of smaller problems all rolled into one big problem.
Step 2 – Brainstorming
Brainstorm as many ideas as possible that could be solutions to the problem. There are no stupid or silly ideas. Everything is relevant at this stage. No judging and no inner critic. Come up with as many ideas as you can. It will make it easier to find one that works for you and your child.
Step 3 – Examine the Possibilities
Go back to your list and look at all your brilliant possibilities more closely.
Which ones are completely unappealing? Cross them out.
Which ones have too many downsides? Cross them out.
Which ones are unrealistic? Cross them out.
What are you left with?
Step 4 – Pick One
This step is almost like goal setting. You have to be accountable in this one. You also need to be realistic in that you need to choose something you are willing to do this week.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Step 5 – Identify Obstacles
Identify any obstacles or barriers that could interfere with you completing the chosen solution. By anticipating the problems or concerns, you can have a plan in place and you and the obstacles won’t overwhelm your teen. You will have more emotional resilience because you have already about the concerns and what to do about them.
Step 6 – Design Strategies
Have a plan to deal with the problems, issues and concerns that come up. Be specific and realistic. You don’t want the obstacles to stop you because you are overwhelmed or don’t know how to deal with them. The more you plan, the less chance the issues will derail you because you are overwhelmed or don’t know what to do.
Step 7 – Evaluate the Process
After you’ve carried out your plan evaluate the process.
Ask yourself the following questions:
This is how we practice and figure out what works and what doesn’t. We can also see how to improve the process for next time.
It is important to track what you are doing and the results. Tracking helps us see, on paper what works and what doesn’t. Many of us trust our memories and they fail us because we are incredibly busy. By tracking what you do and how it works, you can see your progress as you practice, your teen’s progress as your work through issues, what needs to be done differently and what is working well. You will gather information that is useful every time you practice this process.
Now that you have a framework and an outline to deal with the problems, you can break them down and they will be much more manageable and less overwhelming. The advantage to breaking them down when you are working with your addicted child is he won’t get offended as easily because the problem is smaller and you are working with him to find a solution.
Knowledge is the key to developing new skills to help your addicted child. You can learn more skills at Families Do Recover and you can register for courses you can take at home. I am available if you need additional support or counselling.
What Are They and How Do You Get Some?
Define your boundaries and create a sacred spacewhere you can be true to yourself.~ Tanja Christine Jaegar
We hear the word boundaries all over the place, especially when we have an active addict in our midst. We all think we know what boundaries are and how to set and maintain them. Unfortunately, we seem to lose that skill as we deal with the active addict. Lines blur and we give in even though we know we “shouldn’t.” Our boundaries become flexible and bendable. We stop sticking to our word and we forget that we had limits.
is a Vancouver-based Addictions Specialist and Family Therapist with training and experience in numerous areas related to healing and recovery from the devastation of addiction & alcoholism.