Setting healthy boundaries and confidently following through with them is not easy and requires reflection, work and practice. But it is a strategy that provides support during the difficult times, especially when addiction is present.
Why is it that setting and maintaining boundaries is so difficult to do? Nowhere does this breakdown become more apparent than when we are confronted with life’s difficulties, feeling lost in chaos and despair. This is a time when we are most in need of these self-preserving strategies and yet, our limit-setting abilities are likely at their weakest.
Special guest Rob Koebel, actor, writer and award-winning journalist joins Annie and Laurie to talk about about his descent into alcoholism starting at an early age, and the decades that went by without anyone noticing there was a serious problem. His journey to recovery has been a long struggle but one which he is putting to good use by helping others understand the reality behind the "Good-time Charlie" drinker.
In our next podcast, Annie and Laurie welcome special guest Alicia Cook, an established writer and award-winning activist on addiction issues. Their discussion covers a range of topics from the very personal, Alicia Cook's own experience with her cousin's death from overdose 10 years ago, to her work today as an activist helping families affected by addiction. This very open discussion about the opioid epidemic reveals some harsh truths but also shows a way forward.
Annie and Laurie open up about where the focus was when they first became aware of their sons' addiction, all the way through to where their goals and focuses are now. How did their goals evolve over time and how they depend on who your loved one is: a child, a spouse, a parent. They also conduct a short quiz to determine where one might be in the stressful process.
Annie and Laurie open up about the parallel issues that can arise during the worst of times. With their sons' addiction raging, they also had to deal with what was going on on other fronts: chaos, crises, judgement, family discord. They learned how to respond to other's remarks, and not react to them, how to stay united and not sink.
On this week's Coming Up for Air podcast, Annie and Laurie talk with Annie's son Elliot, whose opiate dependency and recovery is detailed in Annie's book "Unhooked." Elliot opens up with an honest, raw perspective of where a son or daughter's mind might be while in active addiction, what would have helped from his point of view, what to not take personally as the parent of someone struggling deep in substance use disorder. He also tells us what life looks like for someone in their 20's pursuing sobriety yet wanting a fun, active lifestyle.
In this week's podcast, Laurie and Annie compare support group experiences. They discuss what is helpful and what works, the importance of being among others who experience the same struggles. They also learned to be careful in some of these tricky group settings where giving support was sometimes equated with giving advice.
This week Annie and Laurie invite Laurie's husband Trevor and Annie's ex-husband Elliot Sr. to discuss what it means to "be on the same page" during a crisis and when making decisions. The conversation touches on blended families, exposing siblings to potentially dangerous behaviors, intrusions from others, being in agreement even though divorced.
When a loved one enters treatment, there is often a feeling of emptiness which comes suddenly after a prolonged period of anxiety and stress. The source of constant focus and worry has gone off into treatment but the strong emotions associated with their presence may linger. Laurie MacDougall shares how she coped in this situation, learning how to let go and take care of herself.