Thank you so much to everyone who reads my blog or is watching my vlogs on IGTV or YouTube. I have only recently started on this journey and have been amazed by the positive response and support. I know this has been valuable as I have been able to help a few people already find detox and support they have needed in their area. I knew when I started if even 1 person was helped by my efforts in this medium it was a success.
As I have looked back on the last couple months of this journey, the issue of codependency seems to be a very hot topic . Not a surprise to me as there is such a need and not a lot of discussion. It’s a difficult topic not only because we are discussing people we love and who are sick, but in some cases we have already lost the people we love to this disease. I have decided to speak about the disease and all of its aspects including the answer in a very straightforward and sometimes raw manner as it is truly a life or death conversation.
On that note, I want to address any and all of you who are dealing with full-blown alcoholism right now. If you have an Alcoholic or Addict in your home or under your financial care there are some things you should understand. Many of you will be on a different spot on this spectrum of Alcoholism. Some might be new to this and some might have been dealing with this for years. No matter where you are in your relationship to the Alcoholic/Addict or what level you are on with the disease I am sure you can relate and glean something from my experience.
Dealing with Alcoholics and Addicts in their addiction is exhausting. It’s frustrating, it’s maddening and it can seem hopeless. That right there should make you feel better. you are not crazy, you are not being non-supportive, you are not being a bad parent or spouse. It is what it is, and it’s exhausting.
I have been helping a woman for a while now and she recently relapsed. I wasn’t surprised, as over the last week she slowly but surely stopped treating her disease. She really had no other option but to drink again. Yesterday ,she blew up my phone with the craziest texts, accusations, threats….just ridiculous. I knew, however, that she was drinking and when ever you try to help an addict/alcoholic and they relapse they will blame the person trying to help them. This is a fact. I have seen it a million times. It doesn’t make it any easier but at least I knew to take none of this personally and not respond. There is absolutely no point in arguing with a person who is loaded. Don’t beg, plea or try to manipulate them with the guilt of their actions. There is no point. the disease is way stronger than you think and it can turn anything and everything around and all of a sudden you start believing that it is your fault. So the easiest and simplest way to avoid the fight is to stay out of the ring. I knew, from my experience, that she would wake up this morning, read her texts and apologize profusely, which she did. I still did not respond. The reason I didn’t respond is that most likely she will have to start drinking again today and the entire episode will start over again. The only time to respond is when she says “I need help, I can’t stop and I’m willing to do anything to stay sober”. Until then I am staying out of the ring.
I am telling this story as this disease does not just effect the afflicted. It effects all who are around them. It is a family disease. Everyone is effected. So many people are struggling with this disease, even though they do not have it. It sucks you in and starts gaslighting you, lying to you and moving you around to get what it wants and needs. Notice I said the disease and not the person.
Loved ones of the Alcoholic/Addicts suffer I believe as much as the addict themselves, more so if you consider they are going through this stone cold sober. If you saw my vlog on IGTV you will have a simple explanation of Alcoholism and you will understand you are dealing with someone who thinks and reacts entirely different from normal people (people without alcoholism). Here are some things you can be certain of when you have someone with the disease that are running havoc through your life.
1.) It is your fault. Or whoever happens to be closest at the time. Someone is to blame. It doesn’t even matter what it is, it’s guaranteed to be someone elses fault. Don’t believe that. While everyone has a part to play, you can work that all out in therapy (if you even want to ) after they are good and sober.
2.) They lie. You must understand that in a lot of instances the delusion they are living in is so deep-rooted, it is the truth to them. Some distorted, rationalized, justified version of the truth. So don’t try to convince them they are lying, you can’t. You just have to realize that anything they say to you might not be factual.
3.) On the norm the best time to speak to an Alcoholic/Addict is in the morning. Any serious discussion or ultimatums should be done in the morning otherwise they will be too loaded to discuss anything and if they do, they won’t remember and you will have to do the same thing over again later.
4.) It is best to speak to them about seeking help in the morning while they are a bit sick and remorseful. As soon as they have a couple of drinks or “get well” they no longer have a problem and you won’t be able to connect with them. They will be telling you what you should be doing and usually it’s something for them. Ugh.
5.) If they come to you and say they need help, ask them what they want to do. There is nothing worse than getting all excited, lining up detox, treatment centers etc to find out they needed $20 bucks. You really don’t know what they are thinking, so ask. You might think that the situation warrants a “90 day lockdown, god help us, residential treatment stay” and they are thinking that a 5 day detox is all they need. Ask. “What do you want to do?” “What does that look like to you?” You will save yourself a ton of time and disappointment if you ask these questions first.
6.) If you have someone actively using in your home or they have just recently detoxed or walked out of a treatment center, please be smart and secure your wallet. Lock up your jewelry, your check books, your laptops, whatever you have that can be easily pawned and sold. I know this sounds dramatic, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. I don’t care if it’s your grandmother, if she ends up needing a drink or drug she will do anything to get it. The disease is powerful. This isn’t about love this is about obsession and craving.
There are some basics. Perhaps this list is just to show you, you are not alone. This is a crazy making disease. In any mental illness the situation becomes blurred. It is hard to tell the truth from false. Is this my fault? Should I be doing more or something different?. You are not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of people going to AL-Anon and Nar-Anon worldwide to learn about how to live a healthy life and have healthy relationships with those afflicted. So much wisdom, strength and hope available and all for free.
In my next blog I will discuss some very basic boundaries in dealing with Alcoholics/Addicts that would be useful to everyone. Whether it is a loved one, an employee, a coworker, neighbor or childs friend.
I would love any comments, questions or just like this post if you got something out of it. Feel free to share to reach more people struggling. It takes a village. Also,please check out my daily vlogs on IGTV @kgardinier.