Johan Hari says, “The antidote to addiction is connection.” and I couldn’t agree more. I’d like to take that a step further and include the family in that statement. The family can become as isolated as the addict, perpetuated by the same feelings of guilt and shame the addict or alcoholic feels associated with their addiction.
Addicts or alcoholics isolate from friends and family, chasing the high, wanting to be with people who accept their addiction or alcoholism without judgement, criticism or mockery. They remove themselves from family functions, close contact and interactions because they don’t want to answer the questions, hear the comments or be subject to what they perceive as interrogations. They don’t know how to deal with the guilt and shame except to stuff it with more drugs or more alcohol. The family removes themselves from the addict’s life because they can’t stand watching their loved one in pain or they’ve been told to walk away, be tougher or stop helping – tough love.
The family also feels the isolation, but without the substances to buffer the feelings.
Many of us have seen the shows “Intervention” and “Intervention Canada” and are surprised by what we see. The raw emotion of the family and the level of dysfunction can be shocking and traumatizing. What you see on television is not necessarily the entire picture. Because they only have one hour, the creators and editors are limited in the portions of the process they expose and let’s be real, they show the most dramatic and sensational aspects to keep their audience engaged.
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.