Alcoholic Loved Ones
Do You Live within Active Addiction?
If someone you love is addicted to alcohol, nicotine or other drugs, you understand all too well the daily struggles and endless torment that alcoholism and other forms of addiction brings. Many times, you’ve likely found yourself at the painful end of numerous irrational arguments or substance-fueled shouting matches. You’ve tried to help alcoholic loved ones, tried to talk to them, but it always ends in disappointment. It’s a endless cycle of failure and frustration.
It is also a cycle of fear. Maybe your loved one will disappear for days or even weeks on end without you or anyone else knowing where they are. You may know the feeling of constantly worrying and hoping you won’t get that fated phone call in the middle of the night, telling you that something awful has happened. You hope that call never comes – but you fear it at every turn. And like many others who live with active addicts, you’ve probably noticed money or other valuables missing. Whether it’s a spouse, child, or close friend, living in the midst of an active addiction is a volatile, lose/lose situation. How can you keep your sanity and help alcoholic family members and other loved ones?
Wanting to help alcoholic loved ones – BUT HOW?
There needs to be a balance between enabling and empowering. Enabling allows the addict to continue in their behaviour by means of your assistance. Enabling can literally be ‘loving someone to death’. But, that is not really love, it is a misguided attempt at controlling the uncontrollable. Empowering lets the addict know that if and when they are ready for help, that you will be there to help assist the process. Empowering does not lie, or make excuses, or turn a blind eye or pick up the tab. Empowering lets everyone keep their own dignity, as much as an active addict is able to do so.
It is often wrongly assumed that the best way to help an addict is to turn your back on him or her. Anyone who has ever tried to help an addict directly knows how frustrating and fruitless it can be. What we advocate is ‘detaching with love‘. Family members and loved ones will very very rarely be able to face their loved ones addiction unaided. The family members need guidance and support. The hands down experts here are Al-Anon. And more and more, people suffering from co-dependent behaviour are seeking treatment for themselves.
What addicts need most from loved ones is just that – love. This love does not need to be up close and personal, this love does not have to pay for the addict, this love does not have to be suffering, whether the addict is active in addiction or not. The best love is the surrendering of the addict to the hands of God’s will, through prayer and meditation, and a healthy recovery process of your own.
But above that, even more than love, the best help alcoholic loved ones can get is professional help. In the recovery community, we recognize that addicts are not able to kick addiction on their own. Likewise, neither are you able to help them on your own. By now, assuming you’ve tried, this should be fairly easy to accept. Because addiction is a disease, if you are not a specialist, you can’t except to heal them anymore than you could heal a broken arm or cancer. Instead, you can love, support, and encourage them, and lovingly guide them in the direction of the best professional help alcoholic loved ones deserve and need.