We hear this all of the time. People say tough love is the only thing that works. When talking to people in recovery, if you ask them how they think you should help or not help your addicted loved one, they'll probably tell you to use tough love.
Research shows that tough love isn't the most effective strategy for helping an addicted loved one.
In this video, we're going to take a look at what tough love does. So what do I mean when I say, tough love? I have a thought process or vision and definition of my head, but you may have a different awareness about what it means.
When people usually talk about cutting someone off emotionally, they're letting them figure it out and allowing their loved ones to hit bottom. Now there's a little truth in that. I'm not one hundred percent against that. I do think that there are times where you have to back up and let people learn some hard lessons.
But in general, do I think you have to cut your addicted loved one off emotionally, financially, logistically? Sometimes, but in most situations, that's not necessary.
When is it helpful?
If whatever's going on with them is abusive to you.
If whatever's going on is making you crazy, you can't even get control of yourself.
If whatever's going on with you is unsafe.
It's not okay for you or other people in the house to be around.
Those are reasons why you may want to cut someone off emotionally.
Here's where we need to get clarity about this.
It's not about doing or not doing certain things when you care about someone who has an addiction. It's about why you're doing what you're doing, what your strategy is, and what you think will be the result of it. The truth of it is. Connection is the thing that can heal addiction.
Cutting someone off emotionally and slamming the door is not the most effective thing to help them. That usually makes things worse. That doesn't mean you should never do that.
This situation is hard to navigate because we feel like we're their only life raft. If we cut them off, they're going to drown, and then it's going to be our fault. We feel guilty because we're not cutting them off. We feel like, well, maybe I'm an enabler. Why am I so codependent? I'm not strong enough. We have all of these feelings and thoughts about what we're supposed to do and not do.
Let's move into the whole idea of financially showing tough love. To me, there are different categories of tough love.
Have you heard this?
"You have to stop giving them money and supporting them in any way because if you do, you're contributing to their addiction so you're probably killing them."
Let's calm down for a second.
Do I think someone with an addiction should be given a ton of money consistently? No.
Is it okay to help buy groceries because you believe if you don't feed them, they won't eat? I think it's okay to do that. What about paying their bills? That's another tough one. I think that that's such an individualized situation. You have to weigh their needs with your needs.
You may not function if you know your loved one is living on the street. If you know that they're freezing to death or they have no electricity, you mentally cannot take it.
You're going to have to back out of it and allow the natural consequences to take place. If you can do those things with love, kindness, and empathy. It's proven to be the most effective.
The most effective method is boundaries for yourself, not letting the situation run over you or cause you to lose your sanity.
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