Embracing family recovery is the kindest thing you can do for an addict
By Alison Broderick
We live in a culture that tells us it’s easy to lose 10 pounds in 10 days, get rich quick, fix your life in five steps, and get what you want when you want it. Almost everything is at our fingertips. Literally. Sexy, seductive advertisements of flavored liquors, sparkling wines and ice-cold beer appear on billboards, in magazines, at bus stops and subway stations… even on our smartphones. So when an individual crosses the line from hard partying to alcoholic and/or drug addict, why do we still seem stunned and then turn our backs on the individual?
The disease of addiction is complex and thus, recovery is a process. It’s not a drive-thru, one-size-fits-all experience, whereby family members can drop off their addicted loved one at a rehab facility and return 28 days later to a cured individual who will never use or drink again. The medical community recognizes addiction as a progressive brain disease that often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Lasting recovery is a lifelong pursuit and a family affair.
From a loved one, to a colleague, to friend of a friend, everyone knows someone who struggles with drug and/or alcohol addiction. The best defense is a good offense—get educated about the disease and learn healthy coping strategies that will help to ease anxiety and stress for you. Addiction is a family disease. It impacts not only the user, but his or her relationships as well. Family dynamics become skewed and a program of recovery is necessary for everyone.
Healthy Coping Skills for Family Members
Establish a support system
Set healthy boundaries
Attend 12-Step meetings
Work with an individual therapist
Seek family counseling
Get moving (i.e., start walking, take yoga, play tennis)
Stop rescuing, enabling and/or controlling the addict
Enjoy normal, everyday activities
Connect with a Higher Power
Take care of YOU
When a person is in active addiction, he or she engages in self-gratifying behavior with the readiness to manipulate and deceive at a moment’s notice. In fact, lying and cheating often become such a way of life that he or she is unable to separate the truth from the false. The addict’s primary focus is on satisfying the insatiable craving for more; he or she thinks nothing about consequences or the people who may be hurt in the process.
But you have a choice. You can choose not to continually experience anguish, betrayal, bewilderment, deceit, disappointment and pain. Instead, you can choose to open your mind and your heart to a new way of life—a life in recovery.
The excerpt below explains addiction and codependency to a T. If nothing else, it will make you think.
“You can give and give to an addict, and he will take everything you have – your time, energy, money and love – until you fade to nothing. There will forever be some new story, excuse or problem to justify his behavior, and rather than rescuing him for the umpteenth time, you must remember this for your own sanity: the real problem is always addiction. You cannot save an addict. You must save yourself instead.”
If you are struggling with a loved one’s addiction, there is help and hope. (Click here) for a list of family resources, including suggested readings and websites to assist you and your family in your own journey of recovery.
Alison Broderick is the Communications Manager and Alumni Coordinator at MARR—a nonprofit addiction treatment center in Atlanta that brings lasting recovery to alcohol- and drug-addicted individuals. She is passionate about carrying the message of recovery to men and women who struggle with the disease of addiction. For more information about MARR’s Family Recovery Center, call 678-805-5100 or visit www.marrinc.org.