The Quest to Help those in Addiction Part 11

Helping your loved one in addiction requires you to have some solid boundaries.

You must take care of yourself first: This will feel selfish and unnatural but it is a key to success.  Regardless of what is going on with your loved one, you must eat right and exercise.  You must find a way from the chaos and find joy again in a hobby.  Live your life fully and completely.  When one trapped in addiction is sober and clean they can be welcome to join you in adventures.  Read good books and meditate on positive thoughts.  There is nothing easier than getting your mind into a negative spin when they are using or drinking.  They are making their choices, you are not required to go down the toilet with them.  Create a secret savings account they don’t know about so that you have spare money to enable you to get away.

Clean up the house:  If your loved one is an alcoholic you must get all alcoholic beverages out of the house.  Consider this.  If your loved one was a diabetic you would not put chocolate cake on the counter.  Yes you can eat the cake, but because you are filled with love you forsake the cake.  With many drugs there are smells, tastes and attitudes that are triggers to relapse.  Take note of those triggers and work toward not giving them the excuse that they are looking for you to give them.  These sometimes seem out of place.  Simple things like light bulbs or the smell of ammonia can serve as triggers.  It may not be possible to remove every single trigger but being aware of them helps greatly.

Share the truth:  Friends and family already suspect that something is wrong.  There is no need to try to hide it from them.  I have a friend who finally opened up with his mother in law about his wife’s addiction.  She knew it but was afraid to tell him.  Now together they work as a team to help this woman find healing from her addiction.  They refuse to be played off of each other and together they are addressing the issue with truth and love.

You must allow natural consequences to take place:  Recently I read a story about a woman whose husband was violent when he was using.  On nearly every occasion he would throw a huge fit in the kitchen and throw the trashcan across the room and dump the contents of the fridge and then storm out of the house for several hours.  She would spend several hours cleaning up the mess and fixing the damage that he caused.  Later he would return home and pass out in their bed.  When morning came she would tell him what happened and he would look at the kitchen and deny that it happened.  She was tired because she had spent much of the night working and worrying and did not have the energy to battle.  Eventually, she decided that she had enough.  The next time that he trashed the kitchen she took a warm bath and went to bed.  When she woke up in the morning, her husband was in the kitchen cleaning up the mess and patching the hole he had made in the wall.  He never did that again.

If you have plans to go out with the kids than go ahead without them.  You don’t need to forsake your plans.  This is really important if kids are involved, they are the innocent victims.  Never miss a school play or baseball game simply because your spouse or other family member cannot control their addiction.  Have fun, which will be a natural consequence.

What is not a natural consequence is a lecture.  They know they messed up again.  Remind them that you love them and you are praying for their recovery.  Ask what you can do to help them find healing.  Offer to go to a recovery service with them.  Yes the first time you go it will be scary.  Typically these services are loud with people that are pierced and tattooed (not you standard church crowd).  Amazingly you will soon love these men and women because they are all at different stages of healing.  Some will defend and care for you when you have needs.

Little things matter:  Avoid driving through areas of town where there is a liquor store or a house where they used to purchase their drugs.  Consider changing phone numbers and help them choose clean and sober friends.  Everything must change: people, places and things.

Develop an escape plan:  Similar to living in an abusive relationship you need to have a strategy for that moment when you really are tired of the lies and the addiction.  Where will you stay?  How will you pay for it?  Having a bag packed and in the trunk of the car is often a good move.  You can checkout most domestic abuse websites for a standard checklist.  Write out the plan and then stick with it.

The addiction is the enemy not your loved one:  It is ok to hate addiction and how it destroys life.  I know that this will be a tough thing to do but focus on separating the drug from the loved one.  They are a prisoner and the sooner you figure out how to work together the sooner you both can celebrate that vision that you have created in your mind regarding your loved one.

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