oo often, when working with alcoholism and families, we get people who simply hand us a family member, expecting us to “fix” whatever behavior is not working out for them. It is time to knock that off.
As much as family and friends of an addict or alcoholic hate to admit it, addicts and alcoholics really are some of the healthiest people in their group (family, friends, or otherwise). The addict and alcoholic, although still drastically unhealthy and dysfunctional, is at least aware that something within their lives is so horribly out of sync, that he or she cannot cope with that reality, and thus has to rely on artificial means to adapt to it.
In other words, a lot of the time the people around the addict or alcoholic are just as at fault (if not more so) than the alcoholic or addict him- or herself. I guarantee that probably angered at least a few people reading this.
“If [enter friend or loved one’s name here] would just stop drinking or using, then our [group] wouldn’t have a problem!”
Well, here’s the bugger about that: they are thinking the exact same thing as you are.
Every addict at one time or another thinks, “Man, if these people would just lay off and let me do my thing, everything would be fine. I’m not hurting anybody, and if they are being hurt my what I’m doing to myself, they need to worry about themselves.”
No wonder it becomes a stalemate so often; and people think that addicts and alcoholics have no willpower…
Lest the worriers out there start thinking that they aren’t hurting themselves either, stress can be just as addictive and physically destructive as chemical addiction.
Let’s do a mini-survey, shall we?
- Have you become isolated from your other friends and/or family members?
- Have you lost interest in things that you used to enjoy?
- Are you constantly overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness?
- Do you wonder how you are going to get through one more day?
- Do you find yourself obsessing over what the addict/alcoholic could be doing at that very moment?
- Has it impacted your ability to work or live a functional daily life?
- Has it put financial hardship on you and/or your family?
Answering yes to any one of these questions is a major telltale sign that a codependent is just as sick (if not sicker) that the alcoholic/addict over whom they are concerned.
Of course, we are not blaming the parent(s) or loved one(s), nor are we saying that they don’t have good reasons for being afraid—quite the contrary.
All we are saying is to lighten up, keep an open mind, and realize that everyone in this matter has to come together if there is to be any sort of long-term recovery from this nightmare.
Alcoholism and families cannot be “fixed” by sending off an addict or alcoholic to treatment, but it can be the first step of a longer, happier life if everyone comes together as a family to help one another through this difficult time.