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Does Understanding and Support work for All?

Discussion in 'Helping an Addicted Friend' started by blasianchick, Dec 25, 2014.

  1. blasianchick

    blasianchick Member

    I don't consider myself a substance abuser but I did grow up in a chaotic household with an addict for a dad. He abused alcohol, heroin and occasionally, my mother. Since my childhood, and my dad's untimely death from a heroin overdose at age 37, I've found myself crossing paths with people of all kinds of addiction backgrounds.

    My first serious boyfriend was addicted to smoking weed. Yeah, most weed smokers would laugh at this. But I consider it an addiction if you can't function without it all day. I was literally competing for his attention. He was also a weekend drinker and a party goer with a gambling problem. Our fights (sometimes physical) reminded me too much of my mom and dad's crazy relationship. I didn't want to end up like my parents, so I took our son and just left, after 4 years of hoping my love would change him.

    Years later, this ex still lives a chaotic life, having numerous children out of wedlock, unstable jobs, bouncing from couch to couch and no savings to speak of. He is prone to blaming everyone but himself for his life's challenges. The only constant in his world is drugs and alcohol. He is an expert at getting people to throw him pity parties and to enable his bad behavior.

    I used to feel guilty about giving up on him. But I learned my lesson from remembering my dad's situation. In the end, no one can be helped if they don't truly want change. People should work not to be in denial about their own condition and those of the people they care about.

    Now, I'm married to a man who labels himself a recovering addict. In the 5 years we've been together, I've never seen him take a drink, smoke a cigarette, party, gamble or do drugs. He was clean when we met and has stayed this way. When I ask him why de doesn't get tempted to go back to his old ways, he simply says I've helped him with encouragement and understanding. He says it's therapeutic for him to vent his feelings and thoughts to me without being judged. Even though the temptation is there, it's easy for him not to give in to it. Really? Is it that simple?

    I guess my love and supportive attitude sinks in with my husband because unlike my ex, he was very serious about changing and bettering his life. He was determined not to let the addictions control him. So he latched onto whatever help, support and encouragement was made available to him.

    I've gotten over my guilt about giving up on my ex. Sometimes it's not the addiction that is keeping the person chained. It's their own sense of self worth and their inability to work through their traumas. The addiction is just how they mask and treat their true ailment- emotional pain. As a supporter of recovering addicts, I think it's important not to lose oneself while trying to help another. My husband likes to give me credit for helping him not to relapse, but I sincerely believe it's his own will power and self love that has helped him to resist.

    Does anyone else have experiences with the result of supporting one addict versus another? Are there recovering people out there who have seen a difference in their recovery attempts based on their own attitudes despite having a support system?
  2. zaerine

    zaerine Community Champion

    I do not have those experiences but I really think that it will not work for everyone. There are really some who will never listen and will never appreciate the love being given to them no matter what even an addict or not. Good decision to leave him not only for yourself but also for your son who will suffer a lot in such relationship and can be exposed to the addiction.
  3. Rainman

    Rainman Community Champion

    Overcoming an addiction hinges entirely on the addict's attitude. I've known people who were addicted to cigars. Some owing to the support they got from me were able to at first consider quitting and later when it was the right time, without being pushed by anyone took the appropriate steps to beat their addiction. It's this kind of resolute determination that gets someone off drugs.

    Others who had no intention of ever quitting no matter how much I tried to help them would not change.

    So blasianchick, you needn't blame yourself for giving up on your ex. Some people have reasons for clinging to their addictions and before they are ready to face their "demons" nothing anyone does [for them] will have any effect on them.
  4. NikkiDesrosiers

    NikkiDesrosiers Senior Contributor

    Honestly no, it doesnt work for everyone- there are some people who are dealing with issues so dark and internal that even the best of support systems is not enough to break them out of it - these people are often either mentally ill or dealing with a severe chemical imbalance which can greatly effect their thinking, logic and reasoning.
  5. Fern

    Fern Active Contributor

    External support is never enough. It can help if someone is internally willing to change and serious about it. And sometimes an external kick in the butt and LESS understanding actually helps people see they have a problem and start the process of self reflection needed to become willing to change. Once they're willing and starting to change, then the support and understanding do the most good.
  6. Jil Diamante

    Jil Diamante Member

    I think it does. It is only a matter of persistence and determination to really help make a positive change on that person's life. In the end, they will be thankful for what kind of understanding and support you've given them despite their stubbornness at first.
  7. KNH

    KNH Active Contributor

    Thank you for sharing your story. I feel these two paragraphs create a third component in addition to understanding and support. Yes, I'm sure you have helped him a lot and you are a main reason he hasn't gotten back in to old habits, but I also think his own wanting to change is a huge part. Many addicts don't want to put in the effort necessary to change and become better - your husband has worked towards it.
    Even though your ex's life would make me miserable, he obviously doesn't truly want to change. I am very glad you left him to save yourself and your son - very brave and smart move on your part!!
  8. Winterybella

    Winterybella Community Champion

    I can't provide any personal experiences but I can safely say you can never save ALL. You provide the necessary love and support but change from an individual's personal desire to be a better person. I am glad you no longer carry that heavy burden of guilt in connection with your ex. There comes a time in life when you have to choose you, your family and your future.