crying woman

After working in, and recovering from, the enormous impact addiction has had on my life, I am blessed to be able to work with others. I am especially blessed to work with ‘The addicts family.’

The addicts family are like our war heroes. They get up each and every day with the same purpose, to save a life. The life of their addict.

We focus our time, money and resources on supporting the addict, but what about the addicts family?

I meet with the addicts family, time and time again, mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses, grand parents, children and friends. Each and everyone, effected by the disease of  one family member.

Like any war-weary soldier, they’re defeated by the brutality of this illness. Sometimes family members look worse than their addict. For it isn’t the addict who shoulders the consequences of the battle he’s fought,  the family members do it for him.

You learn to hold your breath when you’re the family member of an addict. As if one wrong word could set off a ticking time bomb. You take every precaution possible to avoid the explosion. You walk on egg shells, hoping and praying you’re not doing, or saying, the wrong thing. Your head lives in a constant state of alarm, the ringing of a phone can have you hyper-ventilating.

You keep waiting……. for the call.

You pray to God if and when it does come, you’re being asked for money, because it’s easier to be asked for that, than nothing at all.

The birds stop singing. Music causes pain. Children’s laughter becomes a mild annoyance. God is no longer comforting, he’s cruel and harsh and un-caring. The world is heavy and so are you.

A moment of laughter brings a bout of guilt. Conversations stretch into long periods of silence. Each and every family member drawing within, to live in a world of confusion, hurt and pain.

A viscous cycle of no, well OK yes, but just this one time.

Once in, it’s hard to get out.

It’s always about the addict.

Until it isn’t.

For the addicts family are some of the most precious, giving, and humane people I’ve ever met. I wonder if their addict even notices them anymore. Have they become simply a means to an end. Sadly, I know for me that’s what it came down to. Who was going to give me my next fix? If it wasn’t you, you wouldn’t be seeing me. It wasn’t a conscious choice. What families, and addicts don’t know, is physiologically and psychologically they’ve become dependent on their drug of choice, which of course precedes all else, including families.

You can’t rationalize, wish, or love addiction away.

Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. Page 417 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Whether you subscibe to 12 step, or not, there’s something to be said about peace of mind.

Acceptance is key in freeing the addict and their family members. I believe coming to terms with acceptance, can be one of the most difficult stumbling blocks of all. For once you’ve truly accepted your loved one is ‘sick’ you move away from fixing. For just like cancer none of us have the ability to cure this disease.

But we can put it in remission.

And it starts with the family first, not the addict.

For those of you who have an addict in your family, I’ll say to you, what they can not.

This is not your fault.

You didn’t cause this.

You are not to blame.

You are precious and beautiful and worthy of love. You deserve to live with peace and integrity. You deserve to be loved and treated with respect.

The best thing you could ever do for your ‘addict’ is to look after you.

If you’d like support, or have questions, or not sure where to begin, I’d love to hear from you.

If you’re tired of waiting for someone else to choose life, you don’t have to wait anymore.

The only thing more tragic than one family member suffereing from the effects of addiction… is two.

(c) 2014 Jagged Little Edges All Rights Reserved

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