Help For Family and Loved Ones
Are you feeling exasperated about your family member’s addiction?
Are you fed up with watching your loved ones destroy their lives?
Are you at your wit’s end, having tried everything you can think of to make them stop?
Caring about an addicted person can feel like a nightmare.
Does this sound like you?
- You are sick and tired of the pain and/or abuse in your relationships.
- You yell at the “addict” in your life, threatening to leave the relationship if the problem behaviour doesn’t stop.
- You “protect” the addict by making excuses for the behaviour.
- You make appointments with doctors and therapists, only to find that the person is unwilling to go.
- You complain to your friends and family members about this person, even though you know they don’t have any answers for you.
- You try to convince yourself that the problem really isn’t that bad.
- You feel sorry for yourself, baffled about why this is happening to you and what to do about it.
You may find that the addictive behaviours of your partner or family member are consuming all of your energy and bringing you down. The anxiety you feel may be interfering with your sleep and robbing you of your enjoyment of life.
The pain and unpredictability of caring for an addict seem to go on forever.
Tonya A., December 24th, 2020
I came across Candace on YouTube when I was anxiously seeking information about how to identify, and stop, enabling an addicted loved one. I watched all of her videos on YouTube and read her book in less than 24 hours and I just had a feeling in my gut that the help I needed was with Candace.
I had been dealing with an addicted family member for quite some time and things were becoming more and more out of control as each year passed. It took me a long time to recognise that I had been indirectly, and for a year or two, directly, enabling this person through my actions. The more the addiction progressed for my family member, the more chaotic my life was becoming because of it and I was desperate to find a way out of the chaos.
Up to this point, I had believed that this was simply my fate in life, that I was stuck in this situation and at the mercy of my loved one’s addiction and all that came with it. I had not previously realised that I could take back control or that I did actually have a choice about whether or not I wanted to participate in my loved one’s addiction.
I reached a point, finally, where I was no longer okay with how things were and I wanted better for all involved.
When I reached out to Candace’s team, we discussed the family counselling, as I was initially seeking information on how to help my loved one. By the time I committed to the counselling program with Candace, I realised, first and foremost, that I wanted to help myself. I was truly ready to break the patterns and cycles I had been participating in for so long and make life better for myself.
I have a shirt that says “Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes” and I knew I needed to make changes within myself and my own life rather than focusing on changing my loved one. If by “changing” myself it became a motivator for my addicted family member to take a look at their own life and potentially make positive “changes” then it would be a big win for all involved. I knew it had to start with me and at that point I wanted off the rollercoaster ride of addiction and enabling.
I signed up for the 3-month individual program and I had weekly sessions with two amazing counsellors from Candace’s team. I was very ready to go all in with this program and make significant changes. The wonderful counsellors held a safe space for me each week to share; cry; contemplate; grieve; release anger, shame, guilt, resentment; and ultimately grow stronger and freer with each passing week.
The three of us worked on what boundaries I wanted to set for myself around my relationship and interaction with my family member while they were in active addition. This simple act alone created so much space and peace for me. I feel it was the foundation I needed to realise that I did have control over my life and to learn, and assert, what was and was not, acceptable to me.
I appreciated the way they helped guide me to see things from a different perspective when I wasn’t looking at things clearly or fully. They were there for me during moments when I needed direction around my family member’s actions without falling into the drama of the situation. They helped me see it for what it was, active addictive behaviour, and I learned that much of what I had been doing previously just fed into the drama and enabling. They were always supportive of me, respectful of my family member (the person), and clear to point out the manipulation of the addiction.
I was extremely impressed with how professional they were. Every session began on time, they made sure to check-in with how I was at the start of each session, be clear on any items I may want to discuss that day and close each session with takeaways. I was even more impressed with their compassion and making me feel so comfortable from day one, so much so that I looked forward to our sessions each week. I felt safe and able to share things with them that I likely would not have shared with anyone else but was crucial for me to heal. I am forever grateful for their participation in my journey.
I would definitely not be where I am today without them.
I had given up a lot of my personal power when I was actively enabling and I began to take that power back, reassert my self-respect, and teach my addicted loved one how I was to be treated if they wanted to be a part of my life. I know for certain that I have zero control over what my addicted loved one does and it is nice to no longer feel the need to do so.
If someone you love is abusing drugs or alcohol, or is engaging in other addictive behaviours such as disordered eating, problem gambling, smoking, internet addiction, abusive relationships, or compulsive spending, you are not alone!
You may think that it’s somehow YOUR fault, because you have not found a way to make the turmoil stop.
You feel like a “bad” parent or spouse, that you “should” be able to do something to end this terrible situation.
To make matters worse, your addicted family member may be telling you that you are to blame for his or her addictive behaviours!
Although the details of your experience may differ from someone else’s, the emotions you feel are often the same as others who are dealing with a loved one’s addiction.
Some of the most common emotions include:
- frustration and fear
- anger and anxiety
- guilt and shame
- confusion and powerlessness
- hopelessness and depression
If you are in a relationship with an addict, you may be neglecting yourself by not giving yourself the attention you need, and your own self-care is likely suffering.
The first step in helping an addicted family member is to learn how to “detach with love” and start looking after your OWN needs.
You need to learn how to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF first.
Barbara Stops Rescuing Her Teenagers
and Develops Self-Love
Candace changed my life. I had always prided myself on being a survivor of abuse (physical, mental, psychological), until I adopted two FAS Native children in a love-less marriage. My marriage soon fell apart and my life quickly began to unravel.
When my children became teenagers, they both became addicted to alcohol and drugs. I struggled with this situation for several years, not having the first idea of how to deal with it. They were both verbally abusive with me, and totally disrespectful of me and our home, causing a lot of physical damage any number of times. The environment was threatening, physically and emotionally. Both kids were skipping school and in trouble with the police. They were regularly getting fired from the jobs my ex-husband and I had gotten for them. I was continually “rescuing” them from the trouble they were getting into. I had fooled myself into thinking I was coping and doing the right thing… ever the survivor.
At a point of absolute mental and physical collapse, a good friend recommended that I meet with Candace. The thought of “exposing” my world and thoughts to a stranger was, frankly, terrifying. I didn’t know where to begin and really didn’t believe I needed help… ever the survivor.
Candace was absolutely amazing. Her clarity, integrity, and skillful guidance turned my life upside down, in a good way. I began to view myself in a different way, learning how to value myself. I came to recognize that I hadn’t been functioning very well at all; I had been denying my own pain, not respecting MY needs and, in fact, enabling my kids to choose the wrong path. As my sessions with Candace progressed, I learned how to set clear, firm boundaries with my ex-husband and with both of my children, and I soon began to feel a lot better about myself.
I swear to you that if Candace had not come into my life at that crucial moment in time, things would have been very different — or should I say things would have stayed the same, with potentially disastrous long-term consequences for me and my children. Today we are all doing well, physically and emotionally. We have a much healthier relationship with each other than we have ever had before. The abuse has stopped, the enabling has stopped, and my new found self-respect is modeling a healthy approach to life’s choices.
The next time I’m feeling mired in confusion, I will have absolutely no hesitation to pick up the phone and call Candace, knowing with confidence that she will help me navigate through the toxic fog. I am so glad I listened to my friend and took that first step to reach out to Candace for help!
Once you start focusing on changing your own behaviour and taking responsibility for the things you CAN change, you will:
- find time for yourself without feeling stress and guilt
- set appropriate boundaries with others, such as saying “NO” when you mean “No”
- express your anger and other emotions in safe and healthy ways
- ask for and get help when you need it
- let go of control and perfectionism, creating more ease and enjoyment in your life
- take care of yourself physically – eating well, getting enough sleep, etc.
- spend more quality time with nurturing friends and family members
- learn to HAVE FUN!
In the following video, Michela courageously discusses being a loved one of addicts, and how Candace’s book transformed her life.
To order Candace’s award-winning book Loving an Addict, Loving Yourself: The Top 10 Survival Tips for Loving Someone with an Addiction, click here.
Kelly Overcomes Guilt and Becomes a Strong Role-Model for Her Family
I began seeing Candace because my daughter had a serious addiction problem that was negatively impacting my life and the lives of my family as well. I was overwhelmed with feelings of fear, anger and guilt.
I was trying to help my daughter stop using drugs, but because she wasn’t ready to help herself, my efforts were in vain. I was letting her walk all over me because I was afraid that if I set hard boundaries I might lose her forever. I felt a lot of guilt, and I had been blaming myself for her situation for a very long time.
Candace quickly helped me see that I needed to establish firm boundaries for myself and my family. I began to understand that I could only continue to emotionally support my daughter if she respected those boundaries. I realized that I couldn’t control her addiction, that I could only control my own choices and reactions. Most importantly, I knew I was the one who needed to set the respectful tone that I would accept in my relationship with her.
As I started to see the situation more objectively, I understood that my daughter’s addiction was not my fault. I could be there for her in more emotionally healthy ways, without compromising my self-respect.
Now I feel strong and confident when I make decisions for myself and the rest of my family. My daughter is a part of my life. It’s not always easy, but I am offering her loving support with new understanding, respect and integrity.
Counselling can help you detach from your loved one’s addiction and learn how to focus on yourself – the only thing you do have control over.
Counselling with a skilled professional such as myself can help you to regain the self-respect and the peace in your life that you so deserve. Getting counselling for a family member’s addiction can help you overcome the pain and confusion you are experiencing. The improvements you make in your own life can also have a huge impact on your loved one’s addictive behaviour.
If you are ready to try a different approach, I can show you another way to be in relationship with your addicted family member or loved one.
Want a free 30-minute call with someone from our team? Click here to get started. Space is limited.
Our office is located in Vancouver, BC, Canada. My team and I provide therapy and counselling services worldwide.