I recently spoke with a person whose addicted loved one was fully out of control. The occasion for the call was a need to vent over the recent events that stirred up anger, rage, bitterness and anxiety for this person. Their addicted loved one had pawned a cherished family heirloom for drugs. That wasn't the only story. Lies, manipulation, abuses and shattered trust were the theme of every story. If you have an actively using addicted loved one in your life, you know the feeling because you've been there.
To add to the confusion, the addict was working things in the marriage of this person, telling this person's spouse exactly what they want to hear so the addict can get what they want. Are you outraged just hearing these stories? We should be, because these are outrageous stories.
The big question from family members and loved ones of active addicts is "What do I do to make this stop?"
Here are some guiding principles:
1) You can't stop them from using.
Using is a choice and compulsion of the addict. It is not your choice it is theirs. It is not your addiction, it is theirs. They need help, recovery, counsel, medical help, deliverance, and a choice to see their powerlessness over the drug and turn their lives over to the care of God. But you can't stop them from using.
Now that you know this, what about you? The addiction of the family and friends of active addicts is the tug to stay wrapped up in a toxic identity. We have our own illness and our own addiction. We too must stop "using" by staying on the roller coaster of life with an addict.
2) You aren't required to participate in their destruction.
Active users are on a path of destruction. If material goods are being pawned fro drugs, then giving them anything material is like placing the heronie and needles in their hands. By giving them things or money, you are participating in their destruction. You are not required to do so. If they are calling you at all hours of the day or night in crisis mode, you are not required to respond. Stop and think for a moment, "Is this crisis real?"
Now that you know this, what about you? If you think about it, "helping" the addict in times of crisis is a drug that causes us to think we are offering solutions when we are not. Participating in the destruction of the addict is your drug and you must put it down in the same way that your loved one must put their drug down.
3) You must set boundaries.
How stable are your emotions and your day-to-day activities when you are bound to the ups and downs of the addict's life? Cut the cord and seek help for your own soul. You simply can't be truly helpful and compassionate toward an addict when you are being stabbed in the heart by their daily actions. You need to set boundaries so you can heal. Learning to set boundaries is not easy, but it is possible and can be accomplished in the company of people who share your experiences.
Now that you know this, what about you? What boundaries should be set that involve the phone, personal interactions, locations, etc. Only you can set them. Only you can take back control of a situation that has spun out of control. No one can "make you" be involved with the active addict.
4) You have your own addiction to deal with.
Codependency, caretaking and enabling are addictive behaviors. They trigger the very same internal mechanisms and responses as drugs and alcohol. You must get help for you.
There is only one Savior who is sufficient to save the life of your addicted loved one, and that is Jesus Christ.
Stope believing the lie that you can save them. You can't.
Stop believing the lie that you must stay involved with them. You don't.
Stop believing the lie that there is nothing wrong with you. There is.
Start setting boundaries so as to not participate in their destruction.
Start seeking help for your own soul so you can heal.
Start dealing with your own addictive behaviors.
Surrender both your life, and the life of your addicted loved one, to the care of God.
Would you like to attend a meeting to help you on this path? Click here.