The Fourth C: You CAN Contribute to their Recovery
In this series of 7 posts, we are exploring the 7 C’s. Today our topic is The Fourth C: You CAN Contribute to their Recovery.
So far, if you’ve been following this series, you know that you didn’t cause your loved one’s addiction, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. This understanding alone has probably brought you a measure of relief and at the same time, may have given you a sense of hopelessness. On the one hand, how great that it’s not your fault. On the other, if you can’t control it and cure it, who can? What if no one can? What’s going to happen to your loved one?
Though there are no guarantees that any person struggling with addiction will recover, there are certain things family members can do that can make the addict’s path more difficult and other actions they can take that can greatly contribute to the addict’s potential recovery.
Before we explore the list of actions that hurt and help, I’d like to share this disclaimer: Family Recovery is not something you can do by rote. There are subtleties in the list below. Sometimes intention and tone matter more than which action you take when it comes to what effect the action has on the addict’s journey. And sometimes, a family must consider their own well being before that of the addict in deciding which action to take. We will speak about these points further in future blogs, but if you can’t wait til we do, you may want to get the help of a Family Recovery Coach to help light your path. You don’t have to go it alone!
So, here are two lists of actions family members can take that can hurt or help their addict’s chances of recovery. Count up how many you do on each list to get a better sense of where you are in your recovery and ask your Family Recovery Coach if you have questions as you go…
If you want to do things to contribute to your loved one’s addiction:
– call in sick for them when they have a hangover or have been out all night partying
– give them money for cigarettes, rent, food, etc., so they can use money they earn for their drug of choice
– don’t ever mention your concerns about their using
– yell, beg, cry, or scream at them to try to get them to stop using
– guilt them, threaten them, give them ultimatums and then back down when they don’t budge
– allow them to live in your home as adults for years on end, knowing that they are struggling with substances but staying in denial about with them because anytime you have tried to address the issue they frighten you with their reaction or never address it all for fear of how they might react
– do things for them that are their responsibility (because it feels like you ‘should’ do it for them or because they ask, beg, or demand that you do)
– speak meanly or in a disrespectful way to them
– act like their opinions and ideas don’t matter
– bail them out of jail again and again regardless of why they were arrested or what actions they are willing to take afterward
– do these and other enabling acts on a regular basis just because that’s how things roll in your family
If you want to do things to contribute to their recovery:
– put the focus on your own recovery in order to be an example of someone putting recovery first
– say ‘No’ when your loved one asks you to do anything that will contribute to their addiction (see above)
– speak to your loved one with dignity and respect
– Become A Loving Mirror – sharing the facts of the behavior you are seeing without judgment or anger
– break out of the isolation that being in a family where active addiction lives
– go to support group meetings to hear other people’s stories of how they stopped enabling
– learn everything you can about addiction and recovery
– put the focus on your own recovery so you will be okay regardless of your addict’s choices.
Every one of your actions has an effect on your family’s situation and your addict’s life. On the one hand, you cannot cause, control or cure their addiction. On the other hand, you CAN make a difference by caring enough to say no and stick to it, by speaking respectfully to them regardless of how much you want to put them down and by telling them the truth about what you see them doing to themselves and the family.
This work is not for the faint of heart. It takes gumption along with the willingness to do whatever it takes to learn new habits of mind and put them into action.
Stay tuned for the 5th C in which we will discuss the underlying reason for family members and friends to go as far as recovery asks them to go.
Have A Loving Day!
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