Why Can’t You “Help” Your Addict With Love
Have you often wondered how you going to cope with a drunk mother or high spouse over a special gathering, or how can you help them not be drunk or high?
This is an all to common occurrence in people who have a significant other in active addiction or alcoholism, and you may find yourself deeply affected by these experiences, leaving you feeling frustrated and filled with despair as you repeatedly try to stop or help your addict or alcoholic, when it is actually the addict or alcoholic that should be feeling this despair.
These common acts of love to protect your addict or alcoholic may cause more harm than help.
It is typical behaviour for your addict or alcoholic to blame their drinking or using on circumstances or others around them -often the one’s closest to them. You may tend to believe that if only you change certain things their behaviour will change.
Honestly the addict or alcoholic will drink or use no matter what you say or do, and it is not your fault. Once they become dependent, nothing is going to get between them and their substance of choice. This is often a difficult truth to face and a lot of time and energy is spent trying to avoid this reality.
Taking It Personally
Another typical behaviour of an addict or alcoholic is to promise that they will never drink or use substances again, and in no time they are back to drinking or using and lying and manipulating and you find yourself thinking “If they really loved me they would not be doing this.”
The truth is that your alcoholic or addicts brain chemistry has changed, to the point that they are unable to make healthy choices, and are unable to control their own decision-making. However, you are so wrought with the destruction to your relationship that it difficult to not take it personally when you are unable to understand the change in your loved one.
Try To Control It
Attempting to control your addicts or alcoholics drinking and abuse of substances to the point that you would go to any lengths to get them to stop, leaves you feeling lonely and frustrated as you keep telling yourself “surely there is something I can do.”
The reality is that not even the alcoholic or addict can control their drinking or using and the same applies to you – you cannot control their behaviour nor can you control the consequences of their behaviour.
Stopping / Avoiding The Crisis
Loving an addict or alcoholic is very difficult. It is very difficult to let a crisis happen or play out. Often when the addict or alcoholic reaches the point of getting into trouble with the law or losing a job, the best thing to do is nothing. This may feel to be an impossible action to take -it may feel as if it is going against everything you believe in.
The reality is that by allowing the crises to happen, this may be a way for your addict or alcoholic to get to a point of wanting to change.
Trying To Cure It
Alcoholism or addiction is a primary, chronic and progressive disease that can be fatal.
If you love someone who suffers from the disease of addiction, they will need professional treatment to get healthy again.
Again, this is no different from any other disease.
Alcoholics and addicts go through stages before they are ready to make a change or face the reality that they need help, and anything you do to try change this or make them quit will be met with resistance.
Covering It Up
Sometimes the addict or alcoholic does not want anyone to know the extent of their drinking or substance abuse as then others may want to intervene. Often, you are trying to “help” your addict or alcoholic by covering up or making excuses for their behaviour because you also feel embarrassed or you may be trying to save your addict or alcoholic.
The truth is that you are enabling your addict or alcoholic to continue their behaviour and the best way to deal with this is to be open and honest regarding your addict or alcoholics actions.
Accepting Unacceptable Behaviour
This often starts off with a minor event that would be easy to “brush off”, however, little by little this behaviour gets worse and you slowly begin to accept more and more unacceptable behaviour.
Before you know it, you are unable to uphold any boundaries. You feel manipulated and confused as well as frustrated and lost. You will try anything for this behaviour to change, except uphold your boundaries or walk away from unacceptable behaviour which is often what your addict or alcoholic needs in order to become willing to seek help and change.
Having Unreasonable Expectations
When dealing with your addict or alcoholic, often what seems reasonable to you may appear completely unreasonable to your addict or alcoholic. The alcoholic or addict will frequently promise you or themselves that they are done and will not touch the substance again, and you believe that this is true.
This is a very unreasonable expectation; it is not possible to expect them to be honest with you, if they can not be honest with themselves.
There will be times when you have felt confused because your addict or alcoholic has been able to be honest or been able to meet commitments in other areas of their life- why are they not able to apply the same with their drinking and substance use? Remember you are dealing with a disease.
Frequently, the belief that you are helping your addict or alcoholic, is something that enables them to continue along their destructive path. You are forgetting that you are dealing with a progressive disease.
Helping your addict or alcoholic, for instance, who has passed out in the garden, you help them into bed. This action has not allowed your addict or alcoholic to face their own consequences – waking up outside, coming in to face the family.
Not letting them feel the pain of their actions, is not helping your addict or alcoholic and again, it is very challenging for you to not fall into the role of enabling the addict or alcoholic in your life, as this may seem like such a loveless act on your behalf.
Loving an addict or alcoholic in active addiction is exhausting and devastating. Relationships are filled with manipulation, guilt and destruction. Trying to avoid or change these painful events is a natural reaction which is only enabling your addict and alcoholic and serves little help in getting your addict or alcoholic to a place where they want to change.
Doing all these things in the hope that your addict or alcoholics insanity, guilt trips, lying and manipulation will stop- will not happen as long as there is no reason for your addict or alcoholic to seek help and change.
Remember, when addiction has taken hold of your loved one, the person you love disappears. That person is still in there somewhere, but that is not the person you are dealing with now. Addiction is a disease that not only affects the addict but the family as well.
Your loved one is in the grip of this disease and like any other disease, they need professional help in order to change.
As powerless as your addict or alcoholic is, is as powerless as what you are and the only chance of change is for your addict or alcoholic to see and feel their reality.
Stories of Recovery
- The encouragement, love and support from the team at Crossroads allowed me to eventually see that I was worth something - that my life could be turned around and that I could accomplish the things that had long been a forgotten dream.Oliver VGRead more
- On the last day of my stint at Crossroads I could only express gratitude towards all who works there. A wise councillor once commented on my question when one is ready for rehab by explaining that when one is ready for rehab, rehab is ready for you.Johan BRead more
- I was lost and my soul was broken until I ended up at Crossroads and was introduced to the Twelve Steps. With the help of their excellent staff and amazing support I have recently been clean for 18 months, I could not have done it without them!Carla SRead more
- "Just for today I am more than three years in recovery. I have Cross Roads to thank for this wonderful gift. Cross Roads helped me to set a firm foundation in my recovery on which I can continue to build."Angelique JRead more