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.
When an addicted loved one is exhibiting increasingly alarming behavior, first of all, don’t take it personally. Remember, it is not directed at you. This, unfortunately, the face of addiction.
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.
Manipulation is used as a strong arm tactic when there is no healthy communication: “Healthy families communicate, unhealthy families manipulate”. In this podcast, Laurie and Annie discuss their own experiences with manipulation. How do we recognize manipulation when it’s present? How do we as affected family actually manipulate as well?
Laurie and Annie dive deep into the role forgiveness plays when struggling with an addicted loved one. Why is it so much easier to forgive some and not others? And how do we go about forgiving? They also touch on issues of blame, shaming and resentment.
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.
It takes a lot of mental work to get and remain sober and so a recovering loved one may be unintentionally careless with those who support them. If we recognize that people do the best they can with the tools they have in the moment, then we can accept this carelessness more easily. In the meantime, take care of your own well-being.
Laurie and Annie tell their own stories as mothers facing an addicted loved one. They discuss their backgrounds and family dynamics, speak about their lives leading up to and through their personal experiences with the national opiate crisis. Their compelling stories confirm that addiction is a disease and it’s a family disease that can happen to any family in any community.
In today’s podcast, Annie and Laurie welcome Allies in Recovery founder, Dominique Simon-Levine, to explain the CRAFT method for helping families support an addicted loved one into treatment and through recovery. They share their personal experiences in implementing the CRAFT methodology and why it became their ‘strategy of choice’ not only in helping their addicted loved one, but also in looking after their own well-being.
In this next podcast, Annie and Laurie analyze the meaning of drama using examples drawn from an entertaining public poll. They also discuss drama within the family and friendships and how they learned not to get sucked in.
If you are the bystander watching this brutal disease from the front row, what do you do? Detach from someone you love as they are spiraling? What does it look like to detach? How do you abruptly cut them off? We hear “you have to detach” a lot, but what does it actually mean?
Join Allies in Recovery moms Annie Highwater and Laurie MacDougall as they share their personal experiences with their loved ones’ recovery and how applying the language of recovery gave them strength and encouragement during the difficult times.
The long-term stress I experienced caused me to become very forgetful, hasty in my decisions, confused and socially awkward. I also noticed that during that time of my life I became very clumsy. It became obvious to me that I was heading for a crash if I didn’t get ahead of my stress. I knew I had to develop different responses. I knew that I didn’t want addiction, terror and chaos calling the shots anymore.
Through recovery work, I have learned to stop expecting people to be different and to reduce the frustration that comes from trying to cause a person to get better, or trying to mold them into how I think they should be (even if it’s reasonable). When I put these demands and expectations down, I can love people for who they actually are.
Positive reinforcement, as basic and childlike as that sounds, is a motivating force for progress. Speaking to someone’s goodness despite their wrong choices unlocks their worth. “You’re not a bad person, you’re just headed in a bad direction.” Or maybe “You shouldn’t be ashamed of yourself, maybe just aware of faulty patterns so you can choose different ones.” That’s a great way to start motivating someone. Versus, “I told you so, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
My healing did not come easily and did not come overnight. It has been an extremely difficult journey and I am still not great at it. It took really small baby steps and there are still many times when I just lose it and cry. What is different now is I have a bunch of tools in my toolbox to utilize. I have strategies and a plan in place.
You might be grumbling. You might be accusing, guilting or complaining. Or trying desperately to prevent them from going out. You might be brooding in a cold silence. This might be hard to believe, but your presence and your conversation, however negative, are something your loved one counts on, and expects from you.
“Enmeshed” is a good word to describe the situation between your sister and her son. Enmeshed describes a pattern, years in the making, when a family member fixes and protects and tries to control the actions of a loved one who’s abusing substances….
If I’m out at a party at a friend’s house, staying present in the party, in the moment, and enjoying every single moment with them, because that’s where I’m at right now … [this] helped me to have some joy and love right then, in that moment …