She is facing some hard truths as she looks back on the past ten years of her husband’s addiction. He is finally sober, but he has yet to acknowledge what he put the family through. What should she expect at this point in her loved one’s recovery.
Tough love, I was told, was the only hope I had left. So I tried it and things got worse. I hated it and it didn’t even work. Then I developed a personal strategy that I called Smart Love.
In today’s podcast, Laurie’s son Tommy opens up about his experience with SUD with a very moving account of surviving a terrifying overdose. This strong, raw, and honest conversation gives much insight into the mind of an addict, where they are and where they need to go in order to get better.
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.
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.
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?
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.”
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 …
Vitriol can be described as a solution-less rant of hate-filled criticism. A brand of sulfuric acid was named Vitriol, reason being that the acid was strong enough to burn through anything, including steel and rock. Another permanent boundary I now have: I will not remain in the presence of vitriol.
Guest author Annie Highwater writes, “Through the worst of holiday seasons, I have found myself literally forcing a smile as people joyfully wish me season’s greetings in passing. All while my heart weighs a thousand pounds and my mind is a million miles away.”
Do some of these symptoms describe you? A parent wrote me recently that it felt like he had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from having lived through his son’s active addiction and relapses. Let’s look at some of the signs …
At Allies in Recovery, we disagree with Al-Anon on one crucial point: A family member is part of the immediate environment and CAN create the conditions that promote sobriety and recovery.