Couldn’t you just love me… like you love cocaine?

555056_516317078420684_1779609803_nAsk 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.


The Children of Addiction Suffer Most ….

My grandmother was a wise woman. She said, “If a person fails at being a parent… nothing else they do will ever really matter.” She was so right.

She also said, “Rob, don’t invite prostitutes or homosexuals to your apartment. Those people are like roaches; they spread everywhere and the neighbors will know they came from your place”! I’ll save that story for a later post.

I desperately wanted to be the “cool” parent…. the one that was a “friend” … not a dad. I was neither and truthfully might be the worst parent my kids could have possibly had. I brought nothing but uncertainty and anguish into their lives. Addiction damages everything it touches … our homeonline dating was often a battle field and they were the casualties of a disease I couldn’t control. In reality, they would have been infinitely better off without me in the picture. Anyone raised in an alcoholic/addict home knows the carnage and turmoil of daily life. It’s a nightmare for every member of the family.

I know with certainty that my children love me. They are grateful for the changes in my life since I’ve found sobriety. Today, we are defining healthy boundaries that are loving and safe and are moving forward with our lives. I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to be in their lives.

One misconception that many alcoholics and addicts seem to have is that their drinking or substance abuse is not affecting anyone else. Many times they will make statements like, “I’m not hurting anyone but myself!”

In reality, children raised by substance abusing parents have characteristics that will continue to damage them long after the addicted parent is out of the picture …

  • Have to Guess What Normal Is
    Because they did not have a example to follow from their childhood and never experienced “normal” family relationships, adult children of alcoholics and addicts may have to guess at what it means to be normal. They sometimes can’t tell good role models from bad ones. Some are not comfortable around family because they don’t know what to do or how to react.
  • Judge Themselves Without Mercy
    Many adult children of alcoholics or addicts find it difficult to give themselves a break. They do not feel adequate, and feel that they are never good enough. They may have little self-worth and low self-esteem and can develop deep feelings of inadequacy.
  • Take Themselves Too Seriously
    Because they judge themselves too harshly, some adult children of alcoholics may take themselves very seriously. They can become depressed or anxious because they have never learned how to lighten up on themselves. They can get very angry with themselves when they make a mistake.
  • Have Difficulty With Intimate Relationships
    In order to have an intimate relationship, one must be willing to look to another person for interdependence, emotional attachment, or fulfillment of your needs. Because of trust issues or lack of self-esteem, adult children of addicts may not be able to let themselves do that. They don’t allow themselves to get close to others.
  • Have Trust Issues
    After growing up in an atmosphere where denial, lying and keeping secrets was the norm, adult children of alcoholics can develop serious trust problems. All the broken promises of the past tell them that trusting someone will backfire on them in the future.
  • Feel They Are Different
    Many children who grow up with an addicted parent find themselves thinking they are different from other people and not good enough. Consequently, they avoid social situations and have difficulty making friends. They can tend to isolate themselves as a result.
  • Can Become Super Responsible
    Perhaps to avoid criticism or the anger of their alcoholic parent, many children from alcoholic homes become super responsible or perfectionists. They can become overachievers or workaholics. On the other hand, they can also go in the opposite direction, becoming very irresponsible members of society.

As a counselor, I see these characteristics in clients, as well as, my children. Fortunately, there is hope and help for anyone suffering. Organizations such as Adult Children of Alcoholics ( offer vast amounts of information on how to live life on life’s terms. The information for free online.

Additionally, anyone living with a person in active addiction will with 100% accuracy develop post traumatic stress disorder. This is the reality of chemical abuse. The addict is the source of the problem but everyone with in the family is damaged by the acts of the user.

I can’t change the damage that I brought into my family’s lives, but I can provide access to sources that may improve their lives.  If someone you know is suffering with addiction … there is hope. Support groups, private counseling, and workshops are available online… some at no charge.

This is my journey… this is my life!


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