“If you light a lamp for someone else it will also brighten your path.” Buddha
I don’t know what’s more painful: being an addict or loving one.
To the mothers, fathers, spouses, partners, children, friends, siblings, colleagues, and loved ones of addicts: you are not alone.
To love an addict is to become consumed with trying to fix them, living in the delusion that we can somehow stop the insidious and all-consuming destruction caused by addiction.
To love an addict is to wonder each day whether your son/daughter/partner/sibling/friend is still breathing in and out. It is to grieve the loss of someone we once knew while watching their spirit diminish within the tumultuous shadow of addiction.
To love an addict is to grasp for the thinnest thread of hope when in the darkest of times. It is to deeply long for someone even when they are standing right next to us.
To love an addict is to hope and pray that he or she slept somewhere warm and safe last night as the temperatures dropped below freezing.
To love an addict is to show up to work every day with a forced smile plastered across your face unable to concentrate because you cannot stop asking yourself the question “What did I do wrong?”
To love an addict is to either embrace a life of growth and gratitude or succumb to a grim life without purpose. There is no middle path.
Drug addiction turns college funds into memorial funds. It causes parents to outlive their children. It leads to prison time, institutionalization, homelessness, fractured families, and a devastating absence in the lives of all who are impacted. It breaks our trust, our homes, and our hearts.
Imagine trying to cure a loved one’s cancer by begging them to simply STOP having cancer; to bribe, protect, control, nag, or rescue our loved one back to health. It seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? Yet that is what addiction does to family members and loved ones: our lives become highjacked by the fear of loss as we helplessly watch the addict’s interior light dim.
Our efforts to cope and survive are often fueled by desperation, denial, and fruitless attempts to rationalize, control, and change the addict’s behavior. While these methods of coping and “helping” the addict typically stem from a genuine desire to support him or her and relieve suffering, they often create more chaos and harm within relationships and the family system.Enabling behaviors end up hurting ourselves and our loved ones, preventing us from achieving the connection and healing that we all long for.
Enabling takes on many forms, but essentially it can be defined as: standing between a person and his or her consequences, doing for someone something he or she can do for him or herself, and engaging in actions that ultimately perpetuate someone’s problematic behavior.
Lost in our own anguish, grief, and terror, we are naturally compelled to do anything and everything we can to save this person, when in fact we must do one of the most difficult things possible when a loved one is suffering: nothing. Do nothing. Stop rescuing. Turn your phone on silent. Refuse to enable.Accept. Surrender.To heal while still loving our addict is to do the seemingly impossible: let go.
In order to stop the exhausting and ineffective cycle of enabling, it is important for not only the addict to receive help, but for families and loved ones to get their own support. Learning how to set boundaries with someone who is active in addiction is painful and frightening but essential for the entire family system to heal. This is easier said than done and becomes a lifelong practice of self-care, compassion, and “detaching with love.”
To heal from the destruction that addiction causes in our lives is to courageously face the truth of the terminal and progressive nature of this disease while surrendering to our ultimate powerlessness to stop it.
To heal is to accept the person as they are now and not as they once were or who you hoped they might someday become. It is to let go of false dreams and unrealistic expectations while creating space for the unknown possibilities that lie ahead.
To heal is to continuously remind ourselves of the “3 C’s” of Al Anon: “you didn’t cause it, you can control it, and you can’t cure it.” It is to embrace these simple truths.
To heal is to learn to hate the disease and not the one afflicted.
To heal is to set boundaries. It is to stop enabling and to start caring for yourself.
To heal is to communicate honestly, directly and compassionately.
To heal is to candidly admit problems and seek help from others.
To heal is to develop a sense of gratitude and humility while living “life on life’s terms.”
To heal is to love courageously despite the risk of loss, heartache, and suffering.
To heal is to be a source of light and hope for others who are still suffering.
Remember, it is impossible to love deeply without also experiencing heartbreak, grief, anger, and vulnerability. To heal is to accept this unalterable truth. It is to choose to love boldly in the face of fear and pain. It is to reach out to others, knowing within the deepest parts of ourselves that we are not alone.
Marie Tueller, MEd, LPC
If you or a loved one is trying to recover from a substance misuse problem, whether drugs or alcohol, a sober living facility might be a good option for you. Sober living facilities are a helpful transition for many who struggle with substance misuse, enabling them to live independently again after treatment.
A sober living home, also sometimes known as a “halfway house,” is a group home facility for those recovering from substance misuse disorders. Most of these facilities are privately owned, though some are owned by businesses or charity organizations as well. Sober living homes are usually located in quiet areas, where a calming environment free of external stressors can help promote a quicker recovery.
Sober living homes are different from rehab facilities in that rehab facilities are generally much more intensive and offer residents less personal freedom. By contrast, sober living home residents are generally free to enter and leave as they please. Most sober living homes have some house rules, including curfews at night and periodic drug testing, but in general, residents are expected to be relatively self-sufficient.
The idea of a sober living facility is to ease residents back into a normal life, free from addiction. Residents pay rent, buy and cook their own food, clean up after themselves, and have regular jobs and hobbies just as they would if they lived in a regular home. The only difference is that sober living homes come with slightly more oversight to help residents stay sober until they can manage their triggers and cravings on their own.
Rules for sober living facilities are different from facility to facility, but there are some rules that most homes have in common. Residents agree to the rules when they move in, and violations of the rules come with consequences like paying a fine, making amends to other residents, or writing an apologetic essay about what they did wrong.
The main rule shared by all sober living houses is that residents must remain sober during their entire tenure there. This means no drugs or alcohol, regardless of which substance the resident is trying to recover from. In some cases, homes restrict the use of substances like mouthwash or vanilla extract, which contain alcohol and can be abused or produce false positives on drug tests.
Residents are also encouraged to keep themselves busy. Some houses require that residents have a job or attend classes during the day, and most require that residents do chores to contribute to the house. Some houses also enforce curfews to help residents learn responsibility for themselves and their behavior.
Although most sober living homes don’t restrict the people who can live there, the most common resident is someone who’s already completed a substance misuse rehabilitation program before moving in. The goal is to help recovering substance users transition back to a normal life free of substance misuse, so the house will be more useful for those who have already learned some tools to help them stay sober.
For a lot of people, substance misuse arises simply out of having nothing else to do — boredom leads to experimentation, which leads to overuse. Sober living homes help residents find healthy, productive ways to occupy their time, from household chores like cooking and cleaning to exercise to outdoor activities.
If you or a loved one is going through a substance misuse disorder and you think that a sober living home might be helpful, contact TreatmentGuru today. We’ll help you find a facility that fits your needs and gets you back on the right track toward health.