This is something I have spent my whole life working on. One family member or another has always been addicted to something.
From the time I was around 8 years old, my mother and father both drank. It wasn’t bad at first, but with the classic problems starting to surface, it go progressively worse. My mother and dad were the typical “functional alcoholics”. They got up and went to work everyday and maintained the basics.
As the progression became impossible to stop, they began losing possessions and their jobs.
As a child, you cope with addiction the best you can. My answer was to run away at 13 years old and choose going to a children’s home vs. going back to my family.
I was determined not to continue the circle of abuse and addiction. At the stage of my life, helping was not possible. I tried the various methods of dumping it in the sink, and hiding it. To no avail. I chose not to continue to try and stop them. Only to stay out of the way. That was the best way for me to handle the situation. It wasn’t until they went to an addiction treatment center that they got help years later.
When I grew up and married a drug addict and alcoholic, not only did I allow the circle to continue, I was now a co-dependent. A co-dependent is a person who enables someone to continue to be an addict. I was blindly in love and thought I could fix my husband’s problems. I didn’t know at the time that it was a serious problem for him. He hid it well.
By the time I recognized the signs, I was a mother of two. Coping was the only possible answer at that time. I buried myself in trying to spend time with the kids and to monitor him. I used all of my wiles to try and convince him to get help.
When he reached the point of being a full fledged heroin addict, I just turned my back on him and tried to not see it. I remained blind to the facts for several years. After many tumultuous times with finances and housing and other things, my coping and helping skills were overdrawn like the bank account.
I gave up on trying to help him, I let my mind go numb and I joined him. Now, not only is the circle continuing, I am letting my children experience the same horrors I did and worse.
Because I had the opportunity to be on both sides of the fence, my experiences have given me new insight into what is necessary from the people who deal with an addict. However, the experience of winning over the disasters in my life has taught me several skills.
The first is no matter how much you love someone or want better for them than they want for themselves, you can’t do it for them. When they make up there mind to get well, they will.
The second is, sometimes helping means, leaving them alone, hugging their necks when you can, and letting them hit the wall. Until someone wants, truly wants to win over addiction, the help and coping is a silent art. You can create so many problems for yourself by stressing over what to do. It isn’t always your choice.