“I Want to Change My Life”.
Over the past 14 years as a health professional this is the number one statement I have heard repeatedly from my clients, family members and friends who are living with an active or past addiction.
My intention over the years has been to assist my clients (person with the addiction, family members, friends & office workers) on providing support in order to change the “want” into the “how”? The “How” indicates an immediate commitment for change. It signifies “action” and movement towards (not back) on the small & necessary steps that need to be taken in order to reach a desired goal and outcomes.
However there is one very important boundary when using the Power Of How method – The “How” needs to be 100% your responsibility on changing yourself, not someone else .
1) We only have the power to change ourselves -(Choice)
2) We are not responsible for ayone else’s emotions but our own. (Choice)
📌 We can influence but not control anyone else’s emotions or behaviors
An addiction destroys families as much as it destroys individuals. Living with someone with an addiction is both heartbreaking and exhausting. Family members are torn between how to help them and how to avoid being sucked into a world that is scarey, unpredictable, unknowing and often very vulnerable.
Here are some helpful suggestions that I have found over the years of working with clients and their families. I hope they can help you.
11 Things You Can Do For Someone With An Active Addiction
1) Educate yourself on addiction and recovery.
2) Try not to accuse or judge. Avoid name calling. This is a difficult time for both of you. (Avoid Labels)
3) Provide a sober environment that reduces triggers for using. (This is very important for family & friends who may drink or use drugs recreationally) -model the environment that reduces these triggers
4) Allow your loved one time to go to support groups/meetings/counseling. If they use or pick up along the way it is not responsibility. However it is your responsibility to manage and set clear boundaries on the consequences of their behaviors.
5) Understand that your lives will change. Do not wish for your old life back. Your old life to some extent is what got you here. You both need to create a new life where it is easier to not use alcohol or drugs.
6) Make sure that you both have time for fun. People use alcohol and drugs to relax, escape, and as a reward. The people in recovery need to find alternative ways to relax, escape, and as a reward otherwise they will turn back to their addiction. (This can be quite challenging for families & friends as they too are in recovey
7)Do not enable. Do not provide excuses or cover up for the person with the addiction however be respectful.
8) Do not shield or attempt to protect the addiction from the consequences of their use. People are more likely to change if they have suffered enough negative consequences.
9) If you want to provide financial support, buy the goods and services the addict needs instead of giving them money that they might use to buy alcohol or drugs.
10) Recognize and acknowledge the potential the your loved one has within them.
11) Behave exactly as you would if your loved one had a serious illness. What would you do if they were diagnosed with heart disease or cancer?
6 Things You Can Do For Yourself
Take care of yourself. Living with an addict is exhausting. You also need time to recover.
1) Avoid self-blame. You can’t control another person’s decisions, and you can’t force them to change.
2) Do not work harder than the person you’re trying to help. The best approach is to not do things for the addict, but instead to be an example of balance and self-care.
3) Being a caretaker is not good for you or the addict. Understand that there is only so much you can do to change another person.
4) Ask for help. Talk to a professional. Go to a support group such as Al-Anon. (More support groups are listed below.)
5) Do not argue or try to discuss things with the addict when they are under the influence. It won’t get you anywhere.
6) If at all possible, try not to be negative when dealing with the addict. That may only increase their feelings of guilt and push them further into using.
The Three C’s of Dealing with an Addict
You didn’t Cause the addiction.
You can’t Control the addiction.
You can’t Cure the addiction.
“You can’t stop drinking or using for another person.”
With Love Jim