Tips on How to Quit Blaming Yourself for Someone Else’s Addictions
Addiction is a disease that destroys entire families. Every bond feels its effects, and those individuals who are closest to the addict always end up suffering the worst. It is a tragic but true certainty that if you love an active addict, it is frighteningly simple to get ensnared in the tangled web of the addict’s behavior. When you love an addict/alcoholic, you will discover that you are accustomed to reacting to their actions. Eventually, you focus completely on them – what they are doing, where they are going, how much and how often they are using. You hopelessly attempt to establish CONTROL over their addiction. And, because the effort was doomed to failure from the start, it drives you completely nuts. You then try to take on the burden that isn’t yours – all the shame and all the guilt. When you think like that, you, too, develop a sickness. You end up becoming as addicted to the alcoholic/addict as they are to their intoxicant of choice. There is an acronym that is familiar to families in recovery, especially families that are familiar with supportive 12-step meetings. The “3 C’s”, illuminate three simple axioms that are often unrealized by family members who continue to suffer alongside their actively-addicted relatives.
You did not CAUSE it.
Addiction is a DISEASE. It was not caused by excessive stress, childhood abuse, terrible parents, wonderful parents, divorced parents, a poor education, a great education, the wrong TV shows, poverty, or anything else that you want to believe is somehow your fault. There was no action that you did or failed to do that somehow turned your loved one into an alcoholic/addict. Repeat after me— “It’s NOT MY FAULT. Addiction is a disease.” By coming to this realization, the First C gives you permission to forgive yourself for all of your imagined shortcomings.
You cannot CONTROL it.
It is not uncommon for people who love addicts/alcoholics to become “caretakers/fixers” who clean up all of the messes left behind by the other. Fixers make excuses when the active alcoholic/addict misses a shift at work or fails to realize familial obligations. Fixers make the phone calls to get extra time to pay bills when household funds are used to purchase alcohol or drugs. Fixers feed them, pay their rent, prepare their meals, and do all those little things that are necessary to disguise their loved one’s drug and drinking problem from the rest of society. The issue is this –you have proven yourself quite adept at doing just that. Because you have kept the alcoholic/addict out of prison (and alive), you feel that you have some degree of control, and you feel that just work a little harder by attempting this or doing that, you will be able to beat their addiction, once and for all. The reality is, you have tried everything you can think of. You have thrown away their bottles before they were empty, flushed their narcotics and opiates down the drain, tailed them, searched their phones, and frantically searched for them in the middle of the night. You’ve undoubtedly even tried to “manage” their drinking and using – attempting to bargain with them to portion out their dosages, begging them to only drink on the weekends, permitting them to smoke cannabis because it is at least better than meth, etc., etc., etc. Nothing works Now, repeat after me– “I can’t CONTROL it. I can’t reason or bargain with addiction.” In spite of all of your begging and scheming, the addiction is in control. During recovery, you will learn to admit that your life has become unmanageable due to drugs or drinking. By definition, this signifies that you simply cannot control the addiction. It means that there is absolutely no reason to neglect your appearance, no reason to drive yourself crazy, and no reason to let your health, your job, and the rest of your family suffer in a futile attempt to handle your loved one and their addiction all by yourself. It’s when you stop pursuing your alcoholic/addict, let them experience the results of their decisions, and primarily, allow yourself to focus your own personal recovery, you will divest yourself of the unfathomable obligation for your loved one’s addiction.
You Cannot CURE it.
Many individuals new to recovery arrive hoping to discover the key that will give their loved one the power to throw away the needle, the pills, the bottle, or whatever else it is that they are addicted to. They forget one important fact – Addiction is incurable. Addiction is a progressive disease that is always fatal if not properly treated, and even then, the compulsion never goes away. Even alcoholics or addicts who have enjoyed years of sobriety would never say that they are “cured”. They might state instead that they are “sober”, or “clean”, or that they are “in recovery”. That is because they fully comprehend that, while substance abuse cannot be cured as such, the disease’s progress can be arrested. That signifies that during recovery, a person can halt the disastrous downward spiral and actually enjoy improved health, relationships, and perhaps begin to realize a degree of contentment and serenity Once again, repeat after me. “I cannot CURE my loved one’s addiction. There is no cure.” It takes sustained effort, achieved one day at a time. It means committing to treatment programs, counseling sessions, fearless self-honesty, dramatic lifestyle changes, the surrendering of ego and will, and most important of all, a life-or-death commitment to keeping away from alcohol and drugs. When you realize that you cannot cure the addiction and that it never was your responsibility to do so, you will free yourself up to concentrate on being the best, most positive YOU imaginable. This allows you to be completely present when your alcoholic/addict is successful in their battle to sober up. When you understand that the Cause, the Control, and the Cure have nothing to do with you, you can lay those burdens down and know a serene peace and joy just for yourself, no matter what your addict/alcoholic does.