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Discussion in 'Helping an Addicted Loved One' started by LostmySis, Oct 24, 2014.

  1. LostmySis

    LostmySis Senior Contributor

    I struggled for years between two addicts. One refused help, and the other preached about recovery but was not really involved with doing it. It was more like a badge of honor he wore, "I'm in the program". For years he was in and out of rehabs, and nothing worked. I went to a therapist to deal with it, and I was told "Work on yourself. If you improve you, then he will see that, and he will want to be like you and straighten up. You need to become a better person, and you will be able to fix him."

    I was outraged. This was his problem, not mine. No matter what I did, he was too drunk to see what I was doing. It was not my job to fix him, it was his job. The only good piece of advice this woman gave me was the "work on yourself". This is what I hope you all do. Remain your own person. Do not let their problem become your major reason for living. An addict's problem can consume us. If you spend years, like I did, being constantly concerned about them, you wil miss out on your own life. I feel as though I lost 7 years of my life trying to help someone who did not want help. Help the addict who wants it, if the addict does not want help, then let them know you are there. But keep your distance for self preservation.
    jeremy2, JessiFox and CpXi7z1 like this.
  2. DancingLady

    DancingLady Community Champion

    That's very good advise. No matter who in our life has an addiction, you have to set up boundaries for yourself and stand your ground on that. I know a friend who had an issue going on with a family member and that was a huge learning experience for her when she was advised to evaluate her own situation and make a set of rules for their interaction that protected her.
    CpXi7z1 likes this.
  3. Allen24

    Allen24 Active Contributor

    Good advice. It is definitely easy to let a friend or family member's struggle become your own. You should support them but try to keep perspective. You can't take on their burden. There is only so much you can do and sacrifice of your own life.
  4. MrsJones

    MrsJones Community Listener Community Listener

    After my experience with a family member's addiction I felt so angry because they called me an 'enabler.' I was fighting tooth and nail to keep our family above water- keeping the kids safe, hiding money, getting things out of pawnshops, and they called me an enabler. I was so angry that I kept keeping the kids safe and hiding money then I let everything that was pawned stay pawned and started taking care of me. I felt I wasn't being heard. I felt that their addiction was more of a priority than the other members of the family. Yes, yes, yes "take care of yourself."
  5. LostmySis

    LostmySis Senior Contributor

    I think too that those who want to help do not read the literature for addicts, they read the literature for "family/friends of addicts". This makes sense, but at the same time, it does not give insight to addicts, their behavior and cycles. One of the rules is: Addicts lie and they are selfish. If you accept the fact that addicts lie, you will not be disappointed when you find out the truth of a situation. I am not bashing them, the addiction consumes them.

    I will admit, my addict had OCD because he needed order in his world of disorder. When he would annoy me or argue, I would tell him things like "The hangers in your closet are backwards." It would immediately end the argument, because he was compelled to look. I admit, this was mean and took advantage of the situation. But again, this goes to show how the addict's actions affect our actions/mentality.
  6. stariie

    stariie Community Champion

    I think that it is easy to get caught up in another person's issues. I have gone out of my way to help drunk friends, and the list goes on with addicted family and extended family members, but the bottom line is that the addict has to want to get clean. They have to want it so bad, you can't want it so bad for them.

    Someone once told me that I can't save everybody, and of course they were/are right. You can't save everybody, but you can save yourself. It is okay to care, but not to the point where caring becomes destructive to ones own self.
    Taking care of yourself is paramount.
  7. Rainman

    Rainman Community Champion

    When dealing with addicts it's always best to stay focussed on goal — if you have some issues of your own, work on them. Your friends may be addicts but that in itself doesn't say they need help. It's only when they get to that point when they realize that they have a problem that you should step in and offer the support and advise needed to help them get clean.

    Otherwise, if you just wade in before they are ready, you'd not only be wasting your time but [their action] may actually get you to give up on them altogether because there's nothing more annoying than being there for someone who doesn't appreciate what you are doing for them.
  8. cc1001

    cc1001 Member

    You have to take of yourself that is very important. I keep telling myself that over and over. Dealing with a family member or friend that has an addiction can be draining. I am going through that right now with my sister. She is an alcoholic who is about to lose her son. My mom wants me to take my nephew and raise him. I love my nephew and want to do anything I can do to help him. My sister does not want to do anything to help herself. I am frustrated because I have children of my own and my sister does not want to stop drinking and take care of her son and responsibilities. Everyone has tried to help my sister but she doesn't want to get better. It's sad because she wants to be free to drink all of the time and do whatever she wants and have someone else raise her son for her.
  9. Davienna

    Davienna Community Champion

    I totally agree with you and we oftentimes forget to care for ourselves. When helping addicts, sometimes we put our life and emotions on the line, just to help them get clean. At times it is not even worth it, then when we are drained and really hurt by their actions, that's when we come to the realization that we have given too much. It is always good to help others but our main priorities should be helping ourselves first, in terms of protecting oneself from both physical and mental harm.
  10. Charli

    Charli Community Champion

    I agree, this is very good advice. The best way to lead is by example and if they know see how for themselves what happens when a life is straightened out then chances are they will be inspired by it too. It's much more effective than just hearing words or advice, really.
  11. GenevB

    GenevB Community Champion

    Well, this is the best advice I got lately. I've tried so hard to help a friend of mine who is addicted, that I barely care about myself, I wouldn't eat sleep or relax. Always remember that you should put yourself on the first place on your life, not somebody else no matter what.
  12. LostmySis

    LostmySis Senior Contributor

    It is not easy to do. It creeps up on you slowly. We often think we can change the person, or that when you love someone you should go above and beyond. It is difficult to realize this is something that can help the addict. If you are mentally stressed, confused, and upset then you will not be any help to the addict. It sometimes sounds cold hearted, but the addict is not taking care of himself, so he is not going to care about your needs. Satisfy your own needs first. It does not mean you do not love or care for the person.
  13. prey

    prey Member

    Thanks for the advice, but it's fairly uneasy to do. Think about it, the fact that you can't really change others...
  14. Onionman

    Onionman Active Contributor

    Wonderfully good advice! You've got to start with yourself and then you're able to help others.

    The old analogy is when you're on a plane. The safety announcement always says that when the oxygen masks drop down in an emergency, you should put it on yourself first before helping the person next to you. Unless you help yourself, you're little use to others.
  15. Survivor21

    Survivor21 Member

    Excellent advice. I'm dealing with a cousin who is heavily addicted to Xanax. It has definitely taken its toll on me. I wish I could have read this sooner. It was an entirely new experience for me because I have never had to deal with anyone with an addiction before. Like you, I too am outraged whenever my cousin relapses or resists my attempts to help her. Thank you so much for posting, your words hit close to home.
  16. Lexiloup

    Lexiloup Member

    Well said! No matter how much you love someone, you can't let yourself be consumed with their addiction, too. It will pull you under and wreck you just as fast as it did to them. It's very hard to watch someone you love struggle and while you can offer support it is essential you take care of yourself. At the end of the day you must be happy with yourself and love yourself.
  17. tasha

    tasha Community Listener Community Listener

    Addicts cannot see that there is a problem and they dont know that they are bringing others down and adding strain to their lives. Those who do have a slight light to warn them, will want to get help and the support from family and friends can save their lives. The people who help in this can also get drained and it is not fair that people like you who are willing to stand by them and be supportive lose something too. Your sacrifices and good deeds will pay off as you too have an opportunity to start over and begin a free and fulfilling life.
  18. Winterybella

    Winterybella Community Champion

    You couldn't have said this any better. Yet, I know for some it is the most difficult thing in the world to do. I have seen how destructive a family members addiction can be for family and friends. Some of us become so consumed with the addicted person we sometimes lose ourselves.

    Again I say great advice, but application is going to call for much effort and determination.
    MrsJones likes this.
  19. Teresa

    Teresa Senior Contributor

    Definitely take care of yourself, even if to do so means walking away. I wasted to much time and energy on someone who 20 years later is as much as an addict as they had been. I have come to a point where I believe you can not help anyone who does not want help or will not even acknowledge having a problem. I was blamed for binges because by flushing this persons dope whenever I found it..according to him made him do more than he would have. I am now also dealing with issues from broken bones and fractures that never were tended to properly from our physical fights due to his heroin and pill abuse/addiction. If your own life is being destroyed and your own safety and physical and mental welfare are being affected...then its time to put YOU first! My sacrifices and good deeds did not pay off at all!!
  20. CpXi7z1

    CpXi7z1 Member

    How right you are! If an addict doesn't want help, all your efforts are in vain. It's so important to preserve your health and sanity and not lose yourself in trying to fix anyone else. It's so hard because you care about the addict. When what help and advice you offer falls on deaf ears, offer your love and support.