Between a rock and a hard place. The addict’s family.

If your family member struggles with addiction, chances are you’ve heard the buzz words. Care-taking, enabling, codependency, the list can be endless. As a newcomer to the world of addiction, it’s easy to become confused and overwhelmed.

Families are often the soft place for their addict to fall. They’re the ones who bear the weight of their loved ones addiction. Whether it’s cleaning up the messes, bailing them out, setting healthy boundaries or practising tough love, it’s an endless roller-coaster ride of what ifs and emotional ups and downs.

You walk a constant tight-rope of helping, but not helping too much.

So what is too much?

This is probably the most difficult question any family member will ever face. There is no right answer. Although addiction is a predictable disease, each person’s circumstances are unique. One size does not fit all. While tough love might be the right approach with one addict, it may not work with another.

There are varying degrees in the scope of addiction, starting from experimentation in the early stages, to homelessness in terminal. You may have an addict with mental health issues. Dual diagnosis is common in addiction. It is also tricky. A Dr. or psychiatrist can’t always diagnose accurately, as no using addict will be honest about what they’re using. A cocaine or meth addict, can present as bi-polar or schizophrenic. An alcoholic can present as chronically depressed.

You can see how complex this issue is. Addiction is a delusional and manipulative illness. It tells you, you don’t have it. The thought process is hijacked by a pattern of dishonesty and impairment.

There are a few tried and true approaches, however.

Identifying your role in your loved ones addiction, is crucial. Do you help out of fear, guilt or anxiety? Do you involve other people in your decision making process, when it comes to helping the addict? Do you keep secrets for the addict, or protect their unhealthy behaviours? Has the quality of your life changed? Are your other relationships, being effected?

If you’ve answered yes to these questions, you may want to change your approach. Addicts who have families that are willing to look at their roles and work a program of recovery, have the best overall chance of a successful recovery, themselves.

Trusting your  gut is key. Intuition is the quiet, knowing place that lies within you. You can’t make a good decision without it. This is where family members start to fall down. Without support you lose the ability to see clearly. You second guess your natural built in intuitiveness. Without it, you don’t know how to handle situations and tend to over react and/or enable.

One on one, addiction wins every time. You can’t love your addict well. It would be like trying to love a cancer patient well. It’s a nice thought, but it’s wishful thinking.

Loving an addict is like living life between a rock and a hard place. There are no quick fixes, or easy solutions.

But there is hope.

Reach out. Ask for help. Access your communities resources. Go to meetings. Attend a family program and involve other people. Practise patience and learn to hit the pause button. Join a yoga group. Faith is a great comfort. If you haven’t prayed in a long while, I suggest you start.

Above all, be gentle with yourself.

You will make mistakes. We all do. It’s part of the learning process. Share what you’ve learned with others and move on.

Together WE can and do, make a difference.

You are only as alone, as you choose to be.

Don’t spend your whole life waiting for someone else to change. Be the change.

The only thing more tragic than one person suffering from addiction, is two.

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(c) 2014 Jagged Little Edges All Rights Reserved

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1 comment

  1. Lorelei, you write wonderfully , you explain with the hardened cold truth and you talk openly and well versed of the lives we ( the involved in addiction ) live .
    Your writings take presence in two worlds ..That of the addict .. That of the family member living with the addict …
    … Your writings blend both , and truthfully explain the realities we live , as well as what’s nessesary to cope .

    I believe all you say is from the heart , with great intention , and educated from experiences .. Ones that you lived .
    I am uncertain which role you played , though would take an educated guess it was promarily that of the addict .. Once sobered up realizing , then seeing and participating in the path of others recoveries .
    As what you write holds a stronger presence in that of WE the addicted …
    … You certainly know well ( now ) in your writings what the life of the lord one/family member goes through .

    Lorelie, from the viewpoint of another addict , recovering , and one paticipating in the recovery of others , I feel with great understanding of all of which you print .
    I also write ..
    I am choked at the end of some of your SHORT stories , only to regain my breath when reading the NEXT ONE .

    You have here ( much like myself ) , the makings of a BOOK , yet you chose to produce it to the public in short story version . . .
    . . . I do believe anyone interested will go on to reading the next and continue ( as did I ) to the next and eventually ( and hopefully for you ) your entire ( fabulous ) series of writings . Well done I love them , and feel I live in most all .

    Now for me the hard part , as I don’t like to come off as that of the Pompus know it all type , and much rather take on the role of one genuinely trying to be of assistance. That being said , I should privately message you the coming text though don’t know any other way of contact but here …
    … I would not only like to see all these short stories as one writing in a book .
    … I also feel as a short story you left the final paragraphs a little short on the information needed to be of help. I did find that information in the next of your short stories .. Just not in the one that brought me here from face book !

    I do read lot and fast , that which I find of interest for my pages at DAAD , and certainly will start this one story with my many followers and readers ..
    .. I hope THEY will find their way on to all your FABULOUS stories ! Please keep them coming , you are making the understanding of how WE TICK , easier on those who are in the need to know.
    Sincerely, Craig/Dad-2
    If you’d like your story read … Post it to our web-site @