Seeing a loved one’s life spiral wildly out of control can be more traumatising for family members than the addict themselves…(it’s true).
The secrecy, bizarre behaviours, aggression even – these are the signatures of addiction and massive denial.
But there ARE ways to help someone close to you out of that place of colossal denial and spiralling chaos.
The thing is, when faced with the option of relieving emotional pain by:
(i) getting that next fix,
(ii) doing the work required…
…an addicted individual will always choose (i). It’s quick, easy, and it allows me to avoid doing any real work or even acknowledging my problems (= more pain).
They’ve repeated this way of coping so much, that it’s become the ONLY way they know how to cope. They truly don’t believe there is any other way.
To help someone in denial we need to:
(i) Convince them that other options exist, that there ARE other ways to cope,
(ii) Address the real underlying problem,
And of course, deal with the chemical/physical addiction too. No mean feat.
Denial is present because it protects the existence of the coping mechanism – if I admit I have a problem, you will take my substance away. And I can’t cope without it.
So we must provide other coping mechanisms and resources in place of the substance itself, or we’ll always hit this denial.
Since denial exists to protect the existence of the coping mechanism, we need to provide these additional resource *first*, *before* then taking that means to cope away.
We need to provide, or at least convince them of, the resources and support that will help replace the alcohol or drugs, as a means to cope.
They need to understand:
(i) they will have numerous other people helping them through the issues they thought they couldn’t cope with, and,
(ii) they will get help to understand the true emotional triggers and causes of their addiction, and thus help themselves.
The truth is that support IS available to help individuals with their life issues.
Whether your loved one is turning to addiction as a means to cope with self-esteem issues, guilt, trauma, or other emotional upsets, the support to work through it IS available, once responsibility is taken.
As a family member, are you more or less likely to support someone in their need to deal with addiction, if they have taken full ownership, admitted responsibility, and accepted wrongdoing?
And so it is with counsellors, family members, medical professionals, employees, etc etc.
Stuck for support ideas for your loved one?
– Local voluntary counselling organisations or public healthcare counselling
– Mutual aid support meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, etc
– Drug Rehab & Alcohol Rehab clinic aftercare meetings, and telephone support
– Local 12 step meetings and events
– Working one-to-one with a personal sponsor
– Connecting with others locally in recovery
– Additional one-to-one CBT or other therapy following rehab
Can you see, that when this many supports are in place, the need for the coping mechanism begins to dissolve?
Now, let’s be realistic – there is much time, commitment, effort, and willingness, involved in all of this.
But when your loved one has completed a supervised drug & alcohol detox and these supports are in place, these are the strengths which pre-empt the need for the alcohol or drugs in the first place, because they deal with addiction at the cause. Make sense?