"Am I a complete idiot for staying with my alcoholic or addictive spouse? If I think about leaving, I feel guilty. On top of that, I feel like I get all this judgment from everyone around me. The people who know there's an addiction are judging me for staying, and the people that are in denial about it are judging me for leaving."
Can you relate?
I know you feel upset with your spouse because this is not what you signed up for, and I can't even tell you whether or not your spouse will for sure fix their problem or not. This is a decision that you should not make from an emotional place because you're likely to take that decision back.
I will give you a framework to make this decision easier for you.
There will be six categories, and we'll group them into "Negative- I should go." and "Positive-I should stay."
If you're married to your addicted loved one, I know you have mixed feelings. On one hand, you may be thinking, "Isn't addiction an illness? I made a vow to stay...
No matter how hard you try, your child is going to run into obstacles, difficulties, and roadblocks. They're going to have their challenges. It doesn't matter how much money, resources, or how many people you know. No matter how much you try, there will be problems and challenges. That's OKAY!
That's a good thing because that's how we build character. Knowing that you're creating confident, secure, resilient kids is one of the most important aspects of parenting. Easier said than done, right? The good news is it doesn't have to be perfect. Once you understand these principles, you might feel a little less pressure to make everything perfect, and your kid will feel a little less pressure, too.
(This topic is relevant to addiction, but it's also relevant to any parent out there. All of these strategies I'm about to give you can work on anyone, whether they're your kid, a work partner, a friend, or a spouse. This is how to help other people feel more confident, secure, and resilient.)...
Does my drinking or substance use affect my kids?
Of course, it does, but HOW does it affect your kids? Some
of these things might be difficult to hear, but necessary.
We're going to be looking at it from the child's point of view, focusing specifically on how a parent's alcohol or other substance use or abuse affects you as a kid and even as an adult now.
If you want to know if you have an addiction or a loved one has an addiction problem and how severe that problem is, you can click HERE to download the criteria for substance use disorder.
Affect #1: When you're using substances, you are modeling that behavior for your kid. If you use substances in your home, you're modeling that's the way adults in the family have fun or party. It may come across to your kid as really glorified, "Ooh, that's how adults are happy! That's how adults connect. When I get older, I'm going to do that!"
If you're using substances to help you cope with stress or problems, then you're also modeling...
I believe everyone knows there's a strong link between trauma and addiction, but did you know there are three strong links between trauma and addiction? What are they?
Most people are aware of this first link between trauma and addiction. It's the idea that people with trauma are way more likely to develop addiction issues. It doesn't take a psychologist or a research scientist to figure out why.
When you have trauma, you dysregulate the alarm systems in your brain. Sometimes that dysregulation is permanent and shows itself in different kinds of anxiety and very uncomfortable symptoms.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if you're uncomfortable, you're going to look for a solution. Sometimes, people think they've found their answer in using drugs, alcohol, or other types of behavioral addictions. We know that these aren't great solutions. They tend to help short-term, but they tend to make the problem WAY worse...
What is an addiction to a person? How does it happen? When does it happen? How do you break that addiction?
To be honest, it's the same as being addicted to anything else. Drugs/alcohol, gambling, and spending are all things you can be addicted to.
Addiction means that you continue to pursue something although it's having harmful effects on your life. Looking at addiction, it's not a far jump to see how it's possible to be addicted to a person. You can continue to pursue a relationship even though it's having harmful effects on your life and maybe even other people's lives, but add a little bit more depth to the idea of what an addiction is.
Other addictive symptoms include craving obsession. The loss of control and an inability to stop. Let's clarify the difference between being addicted to a person and being madly in love with a person. There are some similarities there, right. You might have that craving, that obsessive fault.
What you don't have in the madly in love department...
I love you, but I'm not in love with you. What exactly does that mean, and what do you do about it?
What that typically means is that the person doesn't have those attraction butterflies towards you. They still care about you as a person, but they're just not feeling that romantic chemistry. Usually, when people say this, they had it before, but they lost it somewhere in the process.
Let's look at what it means on the other side of the issue. It's only natural to want to feel that strong desire feeling. To have that craving of wanting to feel the excitement. The new love romance feeling happens because of the chemical dopamine.
Dopamine is the desire chemical which is one of the reasons why we're talking about this topic because all things addiction is related to dopamine.
Early on in a romantic relationship, you usually have a lot of infatuation feelings. The clinical term for that is limerence, but it's the state of mind where you crave the other person.
This topic is crucial, whether you're the family member, the person who has the addiction, your counselor, or you don't have anything to do with addiction. You need to know how to set and communicate effective boundaries.
The most effective way to communicate a boundary is by not verbally communicating. You see, that's where most people mess it up. They want to tell people what they can and can't do or will and won't do. You say to your kid, you can't have drugs in this house, or you can't come home drunk anymore. I know you want to communicate that way because you feel like you're setting a boundary, but boundaries are about your behavior, not their behavior.
You can set boundaries for your behavior.
When setting a boundary for your behavior, you must stop believing that people deserve a fair warning.
You have in mind that because you've communicated the boundary, you've set this new rule, and the person is to respect that.
It sounds great in theory, but it's ineffective. Someone...
Where is the line between helping, supporting, enabling, and having empathy for someone struggling with an addiction? We're going to shed a little light on this for you so you can figure out what's helping and what's enabling.
I'm going to give you five reasons why being kind to someone, showing empathy, and even giving positive reinforcement can them figure out that they have an addiction problem way faster than when you try to do it more directly.
We get so frustrated and impatient dealing with someone who has an addiction because it's so clearly right there and it's just mind-blowing because the person with the addiction, can't see it. The more you push and try to get them to see the issue faster, the longer it takes them to get out of denial. When you come at someone directly like that, they immediately put their walls up and they get defensive. They'll no longer hear, listen, or even consider what you're saying. It's almost like a reflex even if they don't...
How do you rebuild trust after addiction has come in and destroyed your family? These are the foundational things that have to be there if you want to rebuild trust. I'll advise both sides-- the person that's addicted and the family.
Believe it or not, this is a two-way distrustful situation. The person with the abuse problem feels like their trust has been broken too. That's the thing about addiction, it causes chaos, heartbreak, and no one comes out of it unscathed.
I'm going to tell you what you need to do as an addicted person first. This isn't going to be easy to hear or easy to implement. But it is necessary!
1. The first (most important) thing you need to do is OWN UP to the damage you've caused. When you cause distress to the people that you love, they need to hear that you understand the depth and magnitude of what kind of position you put them in. You have to be vulnerable about this. You made choices along the way that got you in this situation, right? It's time to...
These five common communication mistakes are probably damaging your relationships. In fact, you may be doing them automatically but it's pushing people away from you. We're going to start from the least problematic and go to the most problematic mistake. I think you're going to be surprised by the fifth one, you're going to be like I can't believe a counselor said that but I think it's an important one!
When you hear these common mistakes people make, you're going to think, "oh I've done that before!" and it's okay because I've done all of these things before too. Anyone can benefit from understanding these five mistakes.
The first common communication mistake is the one-upper or relating to someone's story too soon. This one is probably the one that I'm most guilty of doing. For example, someone says, "oh my gosh I had the worst day!" Then they start telling you about their bad day and you start to relate to that because you're like "oh yeah I know what that's like"....