Ask anyone that has ever loved an addict or alcoholic and they’ll tell you how powerless they are over that person’s addiction.
Only one relationship matters to an addict: the relationship with their drug. All of their decisions are based on their need for the drug; they see nothing but the drug and don’t even realize that that’s all they see. Even as their lives are caving in around them, they continue to believe they’re in control and that they don’t have a problem.
As much as “choosing” drugs isn’t really a choice, it also isn’t personal. Drugs don’t matter more than you, they matter more than everything – career, reputation, financial stability, religion, even food, water and the basics needed for survival. The addict isn’t trying to hurt you; they are trying to fill a need, just as if your breathing was offensive to someone else you’d be powerless to stop.
Ask anyone whose wallet has been emptied, credit cards maxed out or jewelry stolen… and they’ll tell you nothing they tried worked in keeping an active addict or alcoholic away from the fix they needed.
In reality, you can’t solve an addicts problems for them. Lecturing, blaming and criticizing will only push them closer to their drug. But you can’t stand to hear the lies and empty promises or worry about their future (and yours) any longer, either. So what can you do?
First, you must understand, you don’t have control over the addict, but you do have influence. What you do have control over is your life. You did not cause their addiction… you can not cure it and as painful as it is… you can not save them. What you must do is save yourself. Your life and those of your family members have value and must be protected.
Alcoholics and addicts lie. Firstly, they lie to themselves. They are in denial and their minds refuse to see what they are doing to themselves. Maybe one part of them knows that they are addicts, but the drug has such a powerful grip on their minds and bodies, they continue to destroy themselves and others.
Alcoholics and addicts can’t control themselves. The drugs they are using (alcohol is a drug) have taken over their lives. Addictions are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. They are all-consuming. Addicts are lost in their own private hell; a swirling mass of dark energy — thick and heavy and always fatal. Addiction is a terminal disease.
People who have never had problems with addictions can’t comprehend this. They say things like: “Why don’t they just quit?” Well, if it were that easy, many of the world’s problems would be solved. But it isn’t.
It takes great strength and courage to overcome addictions to powerful drugs like alcohol, cocaine and heroin. Usually, the addict has to hit rock bottom before taking action to stop. Many addicts never stop. They just die.
The sad thing is that an addict does not see that they do have a choice. At all times, we all have choices, even when we think that we don’t. We may not like our choices, but we have them. The addict can always choose not to use. That is not an attractive option for the addict because their body, mind and emotions are screaming for the drug.
Good intentions will kill an addict every time. By enabling a person to use… you are killing them. Enabling can work in different ways, but basically it’s when a person or a group shields another from the consequences of their inappropriate behavior. Silence can be enabling. If someone is doing something wrong, and you know it is wrong and you say nothing, you are enabling the other person’s behavior. You are part of the problem.
Be aware, the enabler may also be in denial, which means they are lying to themselves and others. There is a dysfunctional dance going on between the addict and the enabler. As always, the first step in making lasting life change is awareness. Ask yourself this: Am I enabling this person’s behavior?
Many people suffering with addiction are rescued through an intervention, an ultimatum or a refusal to enable that leads addicts to take the first step into recovery. Whether the addict takes the opportunity to get better or not, you must take control of your life. Do the things you love and go to Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings to get educated about the disease. A loved one in active addiction damages every facet of family life. No one escapes unaffected.
Addicts can get better and they need your support to do so – but it’s the kind of support that involves clear boundaries to protect yourself and to avoid enabling, honest communication of love and concern, and assistance from professionals trained in treating addiction.
If someone you know is suffering with addiction there is help. Don’t let your good intentions put them in an early grave.
I have been this drug addict … This is my journey … this is my life.