Thursday, March 21, 2013

Hoping I might have helped

I spent about 90 minutes on the phone last night talking to a friend of my brother-in-law's. This friend is going through the very difficult process of dealing with a family member suffering from addiction. He wanted to talk to me to get some insight and ideas.

Unfortunately, his loved one doesn't seem to be at the point (yet) of wanting to get help. It's that frustrating stage we--family members of addicts--all go through: Wanting the addict to get help more than the addict himself/herself wants it.

I liken the whole situation to being in high school and falling head-over-heels in love with the nicest, best looking girl in the school. You want nothing more than her to like you the way that you like her. But no matter what your feelings are, they really mean nothing if she doesn't have the same feelings for you. You can't make someone love you. And you can't make an addict want to recover.

That's an eye-opening feeling that can start one on the road to detachment. Detachment with love is never easy, especially when you're dealing with a member of your own family. But sometimes it's the only way to A.) Get through to the addict, and--most importantly--B.) Maintain your own sanity.

As I've mentioned before, it took me and my wife about seven years to figure out that our son was going to choose to use or not use no matter what we wanted him to do. The bottom line is that it's the addict's choice. And until you realize that, you will drive yourself crazy. You will suffer emotional torture that nobody deserves to be subjected to.

Remember: You have a life to live, too. You can't ignore your own recovery.

Take a step back and assess your addict's commitment to getting help. If you find yourself wanting it more than they do, especially after a number of years, that's a red flag. It may be time to detach with love.

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