I grew up with minimal exposure to drug addiction. However, when I was 12, I was sent to an all-girls boarding school and befriended girls that became like sisters to me. I was thrown into so many lives that were crippled by various substance abuse scenarios and began to lose friends to addiction.
When I was younger, I clearly didn’t understand how sick people can become when they are in active addiction . I carry great guilt for that – I was so naïve about the disease. I mean there were signs, plenty of them. I just thought I could love them enough to make them stop or get them to agree to give addiction recovery a try. But I was in way over my head. When I looked into their eyes, I could see that they were so scared, so alone and their light was out.
So how do you talk to someone who is an addict and has been for years?
- Keep in mind that the addiction has no feelings or emotions.
- It controls the people we love by using fear, pain and shame. It will chip away at their self-esteem and self-worth bit by bit.
- Our co-dependency and enabling can actually feed the addiction and unfortunately reduce the success of recovery.
- Shaming someone into getting help never works long term.
It is vital to understand that although addiction is not their fault, their actions and behaviours have consequences. In the lonely world of drug abuse, there is a vault of pain that has been locked away for years that needs to be treated.
No longer can we stand by silently and watch the addiction continue to destroy a life. It is so important that as a person loving the addict, we choose to end the ride.
The addiction will be smart and manipulative
- We as loved ones want to believe the addict when they tell us ‘it will be different this time,’ or that ‘they can do it on their own.’
- Their promises seem so genuine and real and the addict may believe what they are saying.
- Remember, it is the drug addiction creating that mirage – and it is cold, cruel and calculated.
- When you approach a loved one remember that the addiction will be ever so convincing.
Although no one can ever be certain of their path in life, I can I assure you no one ever chooses to be an addict. It is a lonely and isolating disease. We don’t want it to steal another minute of the life it is holding hostage. Tell your loved one that they deserve the best – that they have hurt long enough.
Breaking the cycle
- Because addiction truly is a family disease, we need to break the cycle.
- Removing the stigma of shame for everyone affected is not only imperative, but critical for the healing process to begin.
I often share my definition of the word addiction with couples and families. To me, the addiction is like all of the villains from every comic book wrapped into one tornado of destruction. So how do you compete with that? Getting outside help and guidance can be key. It’s okay and brave to ask for help and need reinforcement. Often, although not always, an intervention may be necessary.
By Zoë Roberts, Coast to Coast Life Coaching
Zoë Roberts and Phillip Prins are the founding partners of Coast to Coast Life Coaching. They are a mobile coaching and interventionist team that offer addiction interventions, health and wellness assistance and life coaching services. Coast to Coast Life Coaching works with people struggling with addiction and self-esteem issues and are dedicated to helping individuals become the best they can be. By coming directly to your home or location of the client’s choice – they remove many barriers to accessing help. Because every person is unique and has different personal struggles, Coast to Coast Life Coaching will create a personalized program dedicated to each client’s growth and independence goals.