Are You In Denial About Your Loved One's Addiction?

It's not just people with substance abuse problems who can be in denial about the addiction. Family members can be in denial too. A family member's denial can be more complicated and more challenging to deal with than the denial of the person who has the addiction.

Here's an example--several years ago, when I was directing an intensive outpatient program for adolescents with chemical dependency, I got a phone call from one of the parents of the kids in the program. She said, "Hey, I have this friend, her son is so and so, and he has a major problem, and I gave her your name, and she might be calling you."

Secretly behind the scenes...

I already knew about this kid because her son in my group had told me about him. The kid in question was doing all kinds of addictive things, selling drugs, using drugs, you name it--He was doing it. He was kind of a ring leader in this scene.

Eventually, I got a phone call from the kid's Mom. She tells me a little about what's happened(and behind the...

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The Best Way to Confront Your Addicted Loved One About Their Lies and Manipulation!

say this not that Nov 22, 2022

I'm always telling you how when you're dealing with an addicted loved one, you need to:

  • Hold things back
  • Don't say everything you're thinking
  • Hold your feelings in
  • Be positive.

I know you're thinking, "Okay, but when do I get to say what I think and feel? When do I get to confront them with the truth?"

There are many things you can do, but the biggest one is learning how and when to confront someone with an addiction.

One of my first jobs was in a psychiatric hospital, and this hospital dealt with the most severe mental health problems. They had a unit for teenagers who were seriously struggling with suicidal thoughts, addiction, and psychosis.

This is where I spent a lot of time in my early days as a counselor, and I learned a lot of lessons, and it's where I learned about therapeutic confrontation from a therapist named Cindy S.

One of the things I had to do as a baby intern was to walk around the hospital and pull patients aside. My job was to get their...

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The 6 Most Common Challenges Faced By Children Growing Up In Addicted Homes

Growing up in an addicted home is confusing, frustrating, and scary for obvious reasons, but it's essential to keep in mind that everybody's experience is slightly different. Even kids who grow up in the same addicted home have a different experience. 

It's all fun and games until...

Some kids growing up in an addicted home may see the addicted parent as the fun parent. Maybe the parent is happy or silly while intoxicated, and the parent might even let the kid get by with a lot more. When this happens, it can put the other parent in a bad guy position.


Many kids growing up in addicted homes experience a lot of gaslighting where one or both parents try to cover for the addictive behavior by convincing the kid that what they think is happening isn't happening, or that it's not that bad, or that it's normal. Kids growing up in addicted homes often feel guilty. A big reason for this is the adults in the home walk on eggshells to try to keep the peace with the addicted...

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Why Most People Relapse After Leaving Rehab

recovery relapse Nov 08, 2022

You go to rehab and spend a ton of time and even more money to get your addiction under control. So why do so many people fall through the cracks and start using as soon as they leave rehab? You've worked way too hard to get this thing under control to have to start all over again.

Let's look at common reasons people fall through the cracks after leaving a drug and alcohol program.

Some people fall through the cracks right after leaving because the whole time they were there, they counted down the days when they could use drugs/alcohol again. If this is what you're doing, you've already made your mind up, making it difficult to stop.

Some people can't wait to get home and relax.
Warning! This is not the time to let your guard down with your recovery! For most people that fail, this is when it will happen. It's in the transitions where people fall through the cracks, and I don't want that to happen to you.

As hard as it may be when you leave treatment, I want you to hit the ground...

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The Unpopular Truth About Marijuana Addiction in Teens/Young Adults

child marijuana parenting Nov 02, 2022

You may be wondering if your son or daughter falls into the addiction or regular use category of marijuana use. There are official criteria, and I'll put them HERE, but for now, ask yourself these four questions:

#1-Do I know that my kid is using marijuana regularly or has a strong belief that they are?

#2- Does my kid seem to be more depressed and anxious?

#3- Does it seem like my kid is stuck like they're not moving forward?

#4- Does it seem like you're having difficulty getting your son or daughter to be responsible for themselves?

I'm sure you've noticed over the past several years, marijuana has become more acceptable and accessible. Marijuana is the most challenging addiction that I treat. It is extremely tough to get someone to recognize that it is the marijuana causing the problems they're frustrated with. The person almost always feels like marijuana is the only good thing in their life.

There is one little piece of good news here--Early in my career as an addiction...

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Does your addicted loved one ever tell you... "You just don't understand"?

say this not that Oct 25, 2022

When you're an addiction counselor, one of the first questions you face is, "Are you in recovery?"
People want to know if they can trust you and if you're going to understand them, and to be honest, early in my career, I used to be nervous about this question. I was pretty insecure about the situation and tried my best to avoid it. Not only am I not in recovery, but when you go to counseling school, they teach you practically nothing about addiction.

Right out of grad school, one of my first assignments was to build and implement an intensive outpatient program for adolescence on my own. Essentially that's dealing with teenagers who have drug problems. Not only am I not in recovery, and I didn't have much education about addiction, but here's a little secret.
I've never even been cool. I've been around a lot of drugs and went to a lot of parties, but I've never been that girl. So I was a little insecure about it. I can remember thinking to myself, How am I going to deal...

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How To Know If Your Addicted Loved One Is Using You?

How do you tell if someone with an addiction is using you?

The sad truth is that as the addiction progresses and goes along, the addicted person is less and less able to put anyone else's needs first.

For someone with an addiction to take care of others' needs, they have to have their gas tank full first. If they get the right amount of a substance to calm down that part of their brain. When leveled out, they can care about other things because they can stop chasing, but it doesn't last very long because they need to get back to the chase.

Important: People with addictions aren't inherently selfish, bad people, or want to take advantage of you. That's not it at all. It's just that the addiction puts you in that state, and it doesn't matter who you are. It will put you in that survival zone. Sometimes it's more apparent than others when an addict or an alcoholic is using you, but it's not always obvious.

Part of having an addiction is getting good at manipulating your...

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Instantly Get Your Addicted Loved One to Take Their Guard Down!

say this not that Oct 11, 2022

Using this one statement, you can instantly win the trust of someone who has an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or anything else. Are you ready for it? Drum roll, please. The statement is, "I was wrong." When you tell someone with an addiction that you are wrong, guess what happens?
Their walls go down, they retract the spikes, their ears perk up, and now you've got their attention. Now they want to hear what you're about to say. It's powerful because the person is expecting some punch or stab; they're expecting you to come at them to be negative, criticize them, call them out on something, lecture, nag, or preach.

If you don't do any of that, you can show your vulnerabilities and weaknesses and act with humility. Not only will they pay attention to and listen to you, but they will also trust you much more. Best of all, you're modeling humility.

Humility triggers humility in another person. Think about the last time you were in a big argument with someone, and finally, either they or...

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The Absolute WORST Thing To Say To Someone Who Has An Addiction 🤐

The worst thing you can say to someone with an addiction is, "You are a terrible person."

Saying this will backfire on you. It will blow up in your face, so do your best to avoid this.

Any version of this includes comments like:

  • You're such a screw-up.
  • You're the reason this family's falling apart.
  • You're costing us everything.
  • You don't care about anyone but yourself.
  • How could you do this to us?
  • You're ruining it for everybody.
  • You're ruining my day.
  • It's your life you're wasting.

Those are all different ways of saying to someone that they are a terrible person.

Not only is it not going to help them be a better person, but it's also going to backfire on you because when you say something like that to someone, they're going to get very, very defensive. The walls will likely come up, and the spikes will most likely come out. Even if they're doing terrible things, they're probably not doing it because they want to be a horrible person. They're probably doing it...

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How to Address The Root Cause Of Any Addiction

Most of us could agree that people are more prone to developing an addiction of any kind when they're down, isolated, alone, or when things are not going great.

So these situations can look like this:

  • experiencing a significant loss in life
  • being a new or overwhelmed mom
  • being stuck in a bad relationship or job

What do we often do when we don't feel great about our situation?
 We look for something to make us feel better. When you're in those situations, like I just described, feeling better isn't easy, and the usual stuff often doesn't work. But there is one quick, reliable, easy way to feel better fast: to drink, use drugs or engage in other addictive behavior.

Why is that? It's because those addictive things, whether they're substances or behaviors, typically trigger—the neurochemical dopamine. Most of us have heard about dopamine before; we all know it is a reward chemical. The problem with dopamine is that it makes us go after something that our brain thinks is...

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