Keeping Your Addict Loved One In Your Life


tough-loveEpisode after episode of the TV show Intervention cuts to the quick of how addicts ruin not only their own lives, but how their addictive and destructive behavior can break even the strongest of us. Shattered families confront shattered addicts in the hopes of mending lives all the way around.

The theme is always the same, just different characters. First, we get a preview of the person needing an intervention, usually bowling us over with disbelief that anyone could have spiraled downhill so, and wondering how they stay alive. Then, the day of reckoning comes; intervention time… here each family member gets their turn to impress upon their addict loved one, the pain, the loss, and the grief they have had to endure during the addicts run of substance abuse. As a part of the intervention program, the family members are coached to lay down the law, requiring the son or daughter, sister, brother, mom or dad, or whoever is the potential ‘client’, to exit the intervention with the facilitating therapist, who will accompany them to a pre-selected rehab for 90 days of desperately needed treatment. It is considered the chance of a life time for some of these folks who have no insurance, or the family money has all been spent on previously failed attempts at recovery, or who may just be on everyone’s last nerve. But the family agrees to hang in provided the invitation to rehab is accepted. If the invitation is declined, the family vows to discontinue any help (which they invariably call ‘enabling’), cut off all communication, move and change phone numbers and addresses, and completely cut off all ties… a very hard line to take, in my opinion. They are refusing to have this person they love so deeply, in their lives, if the DOC remains present. I see it as manipulation, a behavior we dislike in our addict loved one. It is conditional love, and the kind of pressure (under the guise of helping) that rarely works, often just makes everyone involved miserable, and serves only to further erode the support systems the addict so intensely needs. Sadly, even the ones that comply with the blackmail and go directly to rehab, end up relapsing within the first 3 to 4 months, merely postponing the inevitable- loosing their families.

I hear you family, and I feel your pain. I’ve been down that road myself, the victim of theft, lies, manipulation, subsequent loss of health, and all the crazy making that went with it, but I never discharged my daughter from my life entirely, nor made our relationship contingent on her ability to abstain from drugs. I found a way to set boundaries, protect myself and my property, and love my daughter what I call, ‘from afar’. Many would say I enabled her. I say I enabled her to stay alive. Dr. Peter Ferentzy who writes for the Huffington Post, gives new meaning to the word ‘enabling’ in his article. He does concede that there may come a time when someone in your life is too much to bear, and letting that person go might be necessary, however it is best to come clean and admit that you are doing it for yourself- Throwing people to the dogs for their own good is nonsense and starting to wear thin, as he puts it.

So, contrary to common Alonon/ AA teachings, I became my daughter’s advocate, providing her with a cell phone when she was homeless, rides to the food stamp office or hospital if needed, and I was always good for a 1 or 2 night stop over the night before checking into rehab, or if she was just plum out of steam, grit, and heart. Granted she could use the cell phone to hook up, but a cell phone today in our world is a necessity for not only emergencies, but just to get around, and I’m not trying to further cripple her. Moreover it kept me in touch with her giving me some sense of peace of mind while she was out there whiling. Should I not help her get her broken leg splinted, for fear she may then be able to walk down the street and get drugs? I mean, where do you draw the line?

Ok Mom, you can choose tough love as you have been instructed to do, and what you have been told your daughter deserves- lock your door- tell your daughter she can’t come home- she’ll have to figure it out, just like she figured out how to get the drugs. She will hit rock bottom, which is your goal because you were told it is a necessary dynamic if she ever hopes to recover. I can guarantee you that Missey will soon be pan handling on the streets, scoring drugs, getting sick, and possibly being arrested. The ultimate consequence to this banishment is death. According to your teachings you may be technically right Mom, but being dead right is a hollow victory. coffin

June 15, 2017


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