Anonymous Guest Author
Addiction is a lonely disease, yet it affects so many people. How do you help your loved ones?Today, I want to write the things you should do. First: DO love us! We need to know we are loved. We feel so unlovable, that in our heads nobody loves us, or cares. I know we all think we show love by our actions, which you do, but we, as addicts, need to know we are loved. We don't see you as doing things out of love, we see you doing things for us out of necessity. Tell us you love us. Tell us you care about us, that you care if we live or die.
I was with an alcoholic friend once when he was arguing with his mother. I told his mom that I was worried he would hurt himself or someone else if he was left alone. I distinctly remember her saying, "Who cares?" Well, I cared, and I guarantee my friend remembers his mom saying that. We need to know you care, that you love us. TELL US. Please don't just assume that because you are "helping" us that we know. We need to hear it, over and over!
Second: Speak from the heart. I don't know if any of you watch Intervention, but I love that show. I can honestly say that I always wanted an intervention, that I wanted to hear my family say those things about me. I wanted to hear how they remembered me, the potential they saw in me, that they loved me and cared what happened in my life. I wanted to hear the things they missed, their perception of me. I know I have said it a thousand times, but my own perception was so distorted that I couldnt see what they saw.
I remember watching Intervention and envying those people, because they got to hear how much they were loved. Now, I dont want to say my family didnt love me, because they did. They just never took the opportunity to actually sit down and tell me that. If you think about it, the human reaction in addictive situations is to get upset, yell, argue, everything negative. If you bring negativity to the addict, what will you receive back? If you speak from your heart, the addict can't argue with that. A person can't argue with someone else's emotions. Be positive, be kind, give the addict something to hold on to. Speak from your heart, not only telling us that you love us, but help us realize how much we are hurting you without being accusatory. Rather than saying, "Because you chose to use you did this to the family" Try something more like "Because of your using, I feel.... and it has caused me to ...." Let us know you want to have a relationship with us, you want to be around us, you just want us to be clean.
Third: DO set boundaries, and stick with them. This is where it gets tricky. I do agree with boundaries to a point. If an addict is walking all over you, make some boundaries. If you have five children whom you have raised to not drink or do drugs as teenagers, would you allow them to come home every night smelling like liquor and stumbling up to their room? Then why let us do that as adults? Why let us be around you and your families when we are under the influence? The obvious first boundary should be not allowing us in your homes or around your families, if we have been drinking or using, period. If we are living with you and we come home drunk/high, kick us out. If we are invited to a family function and we show up drunk/high, ask us to leave. DO NOT enable our using. DO NOT make excuses for us. DO make us suffer the consequences for our actions. If we get picked up for a DUI, DO make us spend the night in jail, pay our own fines, be humiliated. DO make us see that "We can choose our own choices, but we can't choose our own consequences".
With boundaries, set your boundaries, but I feel very strongly that once we have made the decision to get help and recover, we need to be loved. I can't say this enough, DO NOT abandon us. We need you to recover. We cannot do this alone. Don't make your boundaries so tight that when we are doing good, we are still being punished because a "boundary was set".The bottom line is just to love us. Whether from a distance or right beside you, we need to feel your love! We need to know we have your support, and we need to know we are worth something. Just for today, I will continue to work towards my goal of reaching my potential.