Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How Can I Get Them Sober?

Feeling lost due to your own or someone else's addictive behavior?

Let the tools I have put together help you!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

the need to fix others is not a good driver for good behavior

When David Gewirc (Director of The ADD Coach Academy) said these words recently, I was reminded of the way I behave when I'm in 'fix-it'mode. Have you ever been in fix-it mode? If so, you know what I mean.

When a person is in fix it mode, they feel an overwhelming need to change the people, places and things around them. Other ways to define fix-it mode are:
  • playing God with other people's lives
  • being a know-it-all
  • insisting that others do it our way
  • spending our days and nights thinking up ways to correct others' behavior and then doing everything we can to get them to carry out our will
  • worrying about their where abouts
  • lecturing them when their behavior doesn't meet our standards
  • thinking up fearful thoughts to terrorize ourselves about others' well-being, and then, on the basis of those thoughts, insisting that others do things our way

This mode of operation is often found in families where some sort of addiction is present as well as in many other codependent situations). In a situation that includes addiction, the non-addicted family members have often been traumatized by the addicted person's behavior and they want nothing more than to save their addicted relatives (and themselves) from the consequences of bad thinking and bad behavior. Almost anyone related to an addict and watching their self-destructive behavior would be inclined to do anything possible to fix their addicted relative or friend. Helping someone we love is considered the only option for most people in many situations.

But the problem is, when it comes to dealing with addiction, going into fix-it mode rarely helps the addict get better and often makes things worse.

Here's why:

When the co-addict tries to direct, help or guide the addict, the addict will often resist. Then, filled with frustration, the co-addict will find him or herself pushing back, insisting on the rightness of what s/he wants the addict to do, and the addict will resist more, and before you know it, there's yelling, screaming, threats, crying, and, in some cases, violence.

All of this began with a good intention, but the result is bad behavior that doesn't help anyone. Often, the non-addicted person's behavior becomes so wacky in pursuit of changing the addict, that it creates a scene that is embarrassing, upsetting, and can be dangerous.

If anything, this escalation of emotion and struggle lessens the addict's chances of getting well, thus, having the opposite effect the co-addict desired in the first place when s/he went into fix-it mode.

But, you may ask, isn't the co-addict right? Shouldn't the addict stop seeing their using friends, stop buying and using their drug, stop drinking til they black out, start listening to their sober and obviously wiser relative or friend?

In response, I would say, well they certainly don't see it that way. So, if I try to force a solution on them, chances are, since they are in charge of their life, it won't happen until they see things differently.

Therefore, it behooves me to learn a different way to relate to the addict. One that involves accepting and respecting their right to live their life in their own way and living my own life differently than I have been.

Does this mean I stop trying to help them get clean and sober?

Not at all. It just means I change my tack from one of trying to fix them to one of trying to control my own actions and reactions to their behavior. As counterintuitive as it sounds, only when I keep the focus on my own behavior and on my own life, can I be of potentially significant help to the addict.

Check back in a couple of days, when this blog will discuss the power of letting go and how it can help both the addict and the co-addict get well when the co-addict lets go of the addict's responsibilities and behaviors.

Until then, remember to Focus on You and enjoy all the moments of each day!

"Myself I Can Change. Others I Can Only Love"

When the Naranon reading On Helping (Little Blue Naranon Book, p. 13) says that we can change only ourselves, it is not saying anything new. Those who are related to addicts and alcoholics know intimately that they cannot change others, because nothing they do to make others change, works. Instead, they are left with anger, fear, sadness, and helplessness...

But then, the quote goes on to say, "Others I can only love..."

For many of us, loving others is what we thought we were doing all along. After all, isn't it loving to sit and watch the addict endlessly, to flush pills down the toilet, pour bottles of alcohol down the sink, beg them to get help, and cry until there's nothing left inside of us to cry with?

According to this quote, "myself I can change, others I can only love..." the answer to this question of whether these desparate behaviors are loving is a resounding NO.

Such behaviors are in fact, the antithesis of being loving. They are in fact, harmful, as they take the addict's attention off of him or herself, and put that attention on what they would call 'your insane, intrusive' behavior.

When the person we are talking about is an adult (and this post is about relating to adults), our only obligation to them is to be a loving person. So, what is loving behavior when it comes to living, loving, and/or working with any person who is addicted to a substance or behavior that is harming them?

Here are a few ideas about what it means to be loving to a person we love we feel is living their life in a way that concerns us.
  • Being loving to another person, means accepting them as they are, not because we agree with what they are doing or how they are living, but because we value them as human beings.
  • Being loving to another person, means we respect their right to live life as they see fit.
  • Being loving to another person, means we focus on living full lives ourselves so that we don't have time to waste closely observing the way they live their lives.
  • Being loving to another person, means taking care of ourselves very well in all aspects of our lives so that we can act from a sense of fulfillment and inner happiness , rather than from a sense of neediness and discontent. (LIVE and let live)
  • Being loving to another person means noticing their strengths, their successes and the ways in which they are growing and changing and trying to be better people, rather than always looking at what they need to change in themselves.
  • Being loving to another person means NOT doing for them what they can do for themselves.
  • Being loving to another person means thinking before we speak, rather than speaking first and then regretting having said mean or spiteful things out of upset or fear.

Visit this blog again over the next few days and fill out the survey I'll have posted. It'll let you see how you are doing in the category of being a loving person in a healthy way. At the end of the survey, fill in your name and contact information and I'll send you a free information report called "LIVE and LET LIVE! A Guide for Family Members of Addicts."

Do you love or work with an addict or alcoholic? Check out my E-book "How Can I Get Them Sober?" at http://www.theempowermentcoach.net/HowToGetThemSoberEBook.html