We all know that addiction is rampant—it’s a horrific problem for far too many people, all over the world. And even though ‘addiction’ can take many forms, from mind-altering substances to mood-altering behaviours, one thing is for sure: Most everyone on the planet today is either affected by addiction—their own or somebody else’s—or they know someone who is.
These days, I work primarily with the loved ones of addicts because that is where the changes need to happen first—or at the very least, in tandem with the changes needing to be made by the addict. Until friends and family members modify what they’re doing in these very difficult situations, it is quite unlikely that the addict in their lives is going to come to them and say, “Please set some boundaries for me! Please let there be some consequences for my behaviour!”
Rather, it is the loved ones who need to be the people who say to the addict, “We love you enough to no longer support you in active addiction. When you’re really ready to be in active recovery of some kind, let us know and we will do whatever we can to help you make that happen.”
But this is a very scary prospect for most loved ones—for many different reasons, which we will explore here. I have been an Addictions Therapist for over 25 years, a recovering drug addict with close to 30 years in active recovery, and a person affected by other people’s addictions for my entire lifetime—and this is what I know to be true: When loved ones can develop the wisdom and the courage to stop enabling addicts, changes start to happen—and often not a moment before.
Just in case you still have a question about why we need to stop enabling addicts and begin to truly help them, here is my Top 10 list of reasons—a la David Letterman.
Drum roll please! [Read more…]