October 15, 2014
Addiction is a disease which has many faces.
Addiction is complex and progressive and is slowly robs those struggling with substance their physical, psychological and spiritual well-being. Addiction is also a disease of isolation in the fact that the individual who is addicted to drugs and alcohol becomes preoccupied with the ritual of obtaining, using and hiding their supply of drugs and alcohol to the degree their relationships with others take a backseat. Addiction is also a family disease in the fact that the actions of a loved one who is addicted affects how their family interacts with the addict as well as each other.
Those who are active in their drug and alcohol use are unstable and unpredictable, and they will use every tool in their arsenal in order to keep their addiction moving forward. They will lie, steal and manipulate family members to a degree in which is causes stress, anxiety, fear, paranoia and anger. The actions and behaviors associated with substance use distorts and deteriorates boundaries, and family members often resort to enabling their loved one’s behavior or make attempts to control the addict. These actions further erode the family unit until it is reduced to total dysfunction.
There is a fine line between loving the addict and losing themselves in the loved one’s addiction. If you and your family are experiencing this situation, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of what you can do to truly help your loved one in a healthy manner. Besides therapy, most important thing you as a family can do is learn how to establish healthy boundaries. By setting consistent and self-respecting boundaries,
The Importance of Healthy Boundaries
In its most clear and definable terms, setting and maintaining personal boundaries will ensure that all relationships are mutually respectful, supportive and caring. When you are able to set healthy boundaries, it is a good measure of self-esteem and they set the limits for acceptable behavior. As stated earlier, there is a fine line that the family has to be aware of in regards to helping a loved one addicted to drugs and alcohol. Knowing what will actually help the addict and what will make the situation worse can be lost in the heat of the moment.
What you and your family must realize is that you can’t fix your addicted family member or “take care” of their addiction–they must do the heavy lifting. Whether a loved one is ready to go to treatment or still is in denial of their substance abuse, you and your family must let your addicted loved one know in no uncertain terms that you will not accept their behavior as is and will only provide healthy support and encouragement only when they make a genuine and honest commitment to get clean and sober. By creating healthy boundaries, you are able to take care of your needs and the all the needs of your family and avoid the traps of taking on a loved one’s addiction.
What are the Ways My Family Can Set Healthy Boundaries?
If you and your family have little or no idea on what constitutes healthy boundaries in relationships, there are some basic tips that you can start employing right away.
Learn to Say No and Mean It
Stop for a few moments and think about it; what is the one word that will get an addict’s attention and lets them know you mean business? For all addicts, the word no has tremendous power and will often stop them dead in their tracks. Addicts are master manipulators, and they will spare no expense in getting what they want and it doesn’t matter who they hurt along the way. The first step for families in setting healthy boundaries is to say no and have power behind it.
When you say no, it takes power away from the family member and passes it onto the addict and his or her disease. It will force the addict to eventually come to the realization they are powerless over their disease and they must take action. If an addicted family member asks you or other members of the family to engage in enabling behaviors, you need to learn to stay no and be consistent and firm with your actions.
Think About It
When addicts try and manipulate family members, a common tactic they use is to put a large amount of stress on the family and try to force them into making important decisions right now. No matter what the situation, any major decision requires considerable time and thought. If the addict in your life is demanding an action or answer right now, simply tell them no. While it may be difficult and you will no doubt experience resistance, telling an addicted loved one no in this type of situation gives you the power.
Learn to Communicate in an Effective Manner
Perhaps the biggest reason why boundaries get distorted is because of poor communication. If you aren’t able to communicate in an effective and healthy manner, you will not fell understood or respected. Effective communication allows you to get your feeling across to your loved one in a firm but fair manner. The following are some examples:
“When you guilted me to give you money to pay your rent, I was very angry with you.”
“If you continue to act this way towards the family and don’t get help, you will need to move out.”
“We love you, but you seriously need to take a look at how your drinking/drugging is impacting the family.”
In the event that boundaries are being broken, you need to follow up with the appropriate consequences. Be patient, be firm and take your time. The situation won’t improve over night, but over time you may notice considerable changes that can nudge your loved one towards the help they need.
If you have a loved one who need help with their drug addiction, call Ocean Breeze Recovery Center today. We offer a wide variety of individual and family therapy programs that will help the entire family address and overcome addiction and create a healthy and happy atmosphere. Call us today.