Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Is There Hope For My Addict?

Is there hope for my addict?

What a question. Everyone who’s ever loved an addict has simultaneously asked and not dared to ask this question. And so the answer is, "Of course there is hope." As long as he or she is alive there is hope. But then the next question is the tricky one: So what can I do to help? (I being the person asking the question – the wife, husband, mother, sister, child, friend, co-worker, etc.)

The best thing any of us can do to help our addicts is to get help ourselves. Getting help for ourselves? You may ask. What’s up with that? I’m fine. It’s my addict who is crazy. What kind of help do I need?

The cold hard facts about how those affected by the addiction of a loved one will end up, are not too different from those that describe an addict's possible fates. Just as there are only four ends for an addict: Jail, Institution, Death, or Recovery; so, too for the family member.

Whereas for the addict it looks like this:

Jail – for breaking the law while under the influence

Institution (Inpatient Mental Health Facility) – because the drugs or alcohol have so toxified their mind that they are no longer living in the real world or wish to kill themselves

Death – due to overdose, cirrhosis of the liver, heart attack, bullet wound, or other fatal attack to their body

Recovery – which happens when they take personal responsibility for their life and turn it around

For the family member it can play out as:

Jail – because we kill them for all "they have done to us”

Institution (Inpatient Mental Health Facility) – because “they have driven us crazy"

Death – only we die of a broken heart or a stress-related illness

Recovery – which happens when we put the focus on ourselves and decide to move forward toward a healthy mindset, whether the addict continues to use or not.

I’ll never forget the first time someone told me about the four ends of an addict. I was sobbing on the phone about my person of concern’s behavior, going on and on about what they were doing to themself, to me, to our finances, etc. When I stopped to get a breath, the person I was talking to, said, “Well, you know, you really have no control over what will happen to them. In fact, there are only 4 possible ends to an addict and, we really have no idea if your addict will be one God uses as an example of the possibilities of recovery or of the consequences of unabated use.”

Her words shocked and stung me. My tears stopped and anger filled my heart and mind. I slammed the phone down and told myself I would never talk to her again.

But then, as I gave her message time to sink in, I recalled the rest of what she said: “So, the only guarantee for you, the only thing you will absolutely be able to count on, is, that if you decide to work a recovery program, you will be okay. Your life will move forward. You will no longer be in constant inner turmoil and filled with dread and anxiety.”

Then she added, “And the best chance your family member has to get well, is for you to be so busy working on your own recovery that you begin to serve as a role model of recovery rather than as a nag and hindrance to theirs.”

Of course, I didn’t see myself as a hindrance, but I did have to admit that all of my best efforts had not achieved my goal of sobriety for my addict.

And so, I began, in earnest, to get the help I needed for me. In time, I learned how to communicate more effectively with my addict and the people around me. I learned how to not let things well up within me so that they came out shrill and angry, but rather calm and thought provoking. I learned how to take care of myself. I learned how to build a life for myself that I was slowly but surely learning how to live with joy and fulfillment, regardless of other people’s behaviors.

This is the journey of recovery for us: It is a road packed with ups and downs, ins and outs, highs and lows. But is is a journey we can take and improve upon and grow from and impact on and cherish as long as we work with the principles of recovery and apply them to ourselves on a daily basis.

Over the years, I have had a wonderful sponsor who has guided me; I have, just as the Big Book of AA promises “watched a fellowship build around me”, and I have, from time to time, hired helpers in the form of coaches, therapists, and spiritual guides to assist me on my journey.

I became a recovery coach to help others on their journey. I still believe that we, the family members, are our addicts’ best hope for recovery. Not because we make them get better. Rather because we get better ourselves and when we do that everything around us is affected. By keeping the focus on ourselves, we learn about what it means to have healthy interactions with others as well. And that is transformative.

As it says in the Naranon Blue Book: “Myself I can change. Others I can only love.”

Please note:

These blogs are designed to provide those who love, live and/or work with addicts with ideas to contemplate. They are not designed to replace the wonderful support available to co-addicts in programs like naranon, alanon, gamanon, and s-anon. These 12 step programs offer meetings all over the world, in person, on the phone, and online. You can find their listings on their web sites:
* http://www.alanon.org/
* http://www.nar-anon.org/  
* http://www.gamanon.org/  
There are people at these meetings who have dealt and continue to deal with the rampage that addiction can bring into the lives of those affected by someone else's using. Feel free to call me to find out more or to check out their websites for more information.

In addition, having a coach can intensify the pace of growth in these areas. If you feel you or someone you love would benefit, I would be happy to speak with you or someone you know who is affected by the addiction of another person. Let’s have a confidential, complimentary consultation to talk about how we might work together to jumpstart your own recovery journey and perhaps even that of those around you.

Beverly A. Buncher, MA, CEC, CLPF
Recovery Coach
Recovery Support Specialist
Helping People in Recovery Find Their Way
786 859 4050
http://www.recoverycoachbev1.blogspot.com/ (Focus on You! - for family and friends of addicts)
http://www.recoverycoachbev.blogspot.com/ (Life Purpose in Recovery)
http://www.recoverycoachbev2.blogspot.com/ (Treatment Professionals in Recovery)
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