Thursday, May 13, 2010

Let me switch gears

Hopefully you don't get whiplash from the 180 that I'm about to do. Going from the hilarity that is Mr. Gervais to this.

I have a question for you. And no it's not just to get comments. It's something that I genuinely want to know.

It has to do with addiction. The three of you who are regular readers have probably figured out that I deal with addicts in my life.

And if you have any experience with this you know how horrible addiction is.

I also know that, at least in my family, it's not openly talked about very often. If it is I often feel like I'm the one who is pushing to talk about it. And when we do talk that's all it seems to be is talk. And that talk just goes around in circles. Never ending, helpless circles.

I feel really, really alone in this situation. I actually went and spoke with a friend who I knew had a similar experience to mine and it was such an incredible relief to know that I am not alone in my feelings, my reactions, in my pain and anger.

But I guess I need more. More advice. More validation. More understanding.

So the question I pose to you is this,

Have you ever had someone you loved dearly who has struggled with addiction?

Have you, yourself, ever struggled with addiction? Of any kind. Addiction is addiction.

In fact I have taken a good hard look at myself (because I believe I carry an addictive gene in my makeup) and I guess my "drug of choice" is soda, sugar and food in general. I'm not perfect.

In fact I feel like a complete hypocrite most days.

Fortunately or Unfortunately however you choose to look at it I am able to function with my addiction. Does that make it better or worse?

The addiction that is tearing into my family has to do with drugs.

Meth, prescription pain killers, Heroine and possibly other shtuff.

I am looking into going to Al-Anon meetings to get more help. (Maybe I should look into some OA meetings as well.)


I'm going to make it so that you can post anonymously if you wish because I know how hard it is to talk publicly about stuff like this. Or you can email me if you want. My email is in my profile.

There you have it.

Sorry to be so abrupt. Hope your neck isn't hurting too badly.


Kristina P. said...

I have dealt with addiction in my family, personally, and obviously, in my profession. I think Al-Anon will be great.

It really, really sucks watching a family member go through something you have no control over.

And I don't think you are a hypocrite at all. You can't compare Diet Coke or sugar to meth or heroin. They are not even apples and oranges. It's like apples and roast beef.

Have you thought about actually going to counseling for yourself? I have, on more than one occasion, and it's the best thing I've done for myself.

Hang in there. I've been thinking about you.

C & A said...

Interesting question. C is a therapist among other things. It's not what he does for his occupation, although he has training and licensing in that area. He interacts with addictive behaviors frequently. Children are more pliable than adults, and adults are pliable and amenable to change when they are willing to accept help, but until then, it's this fierce cycle that hurts them and hurts others. I have a family member who does drugs. It breaks my heart. This involves stealing stuff to sell, lying, and hurting self and others. It also means that at the moment this person started doing drugs, the emotional maturity of that person was frozen in time. This person is emotionally 15-16, but physically is 24. I think it's important for people to know this fact when they are close to someone who does drugs. It helps create a bit more clarity in all of the madness and helps make sense of some of the shards of that person's life. I am very sorry you are dealing with this, but be careful not to transfer what's going on with them and apply it to your own life. Don't start feeling guilty for a Diet Coke or sugar. Guilt is for sin, and you aren't sinning. Sorry, I don't drink caffeine, but I don't think drinking a diet coke is sin. That's just silly. GAs drink coke, so stop that stinkin' thinkin'.

C & A said...

Oh, and the emotional maturity won't start growing up until after they stop abusing drugs, and they will have to start growing from the moment they started doing drugs. Thus, even after they stop doing drugs, they still have to grow up, so they can be very hard to work with for a very long time after drugs leave the scene.

C & A said...

If that wasn't clear, when my family member stops doing drugs, that person will still be 15-16 emotionally, whether they are 24 or 84 in physical years

Lisa Summerhays said...

Random. I was just thinking about addictions yesterday. I thought about maybe starting a blog to help those people dealing with eating disorders. If they themselves have one or know someone who does.

I've fought with an eating disorder for close to eight years now. Even though I no longer act upon it there is still that little voice in the back of my head. It's a never ending battle. It's an addiction that rules you, that takes over your life and even though your therapist tells you it is killing you in the back of your head you don't believe her or hope that it will and put you out of your misery.

I couldn't see what it was doing to my family either. I was so wrapped up in myself constantly counting how many calories I took in and how many I worked off. Trying to hide it from everyone. Lying. It's exhausting. I totally lost myself and that is a hard thing to get back. Self worth. Hope for the future. All you can see is that one thing you crave and you hate yourself for it.

I'm sorry. Remember that it's not your fault. It wasn't your decision and if you can still love them they need it. I needed it and my family giving me that love helped me to come around.

Cynthia said...

I'll be brave and tell you that I have attended al-anon meetings. I went so I could learn how I could handle the situation with the family member. If nothing else, you'll feel validated there and like you have 'permission' to set hard boundaries for the addict. Families of addicts almost always help feed the addiction without intending to. I cannot recommend al-anon more strongly. It's hard to go- hard to admit you need to be there- but oh, so worth it. The relationship with my family member has actually improved even if they still struggle with addiction (not as bad as it was). There's always hope but you have to learn how to channel your energies where the addict is concerned. Good luck. Do this for yourself, you won't regret it.

Mary said...

Out of the 7 people in my immediate family, only two of us have been 'clean' our entire lives. I think that Al-anon meetings are a great option, along with intimate counseling. I went to family counseling as far back as I can remember due to an older brother with tourettes.

I also saw a psychologist in High School to help me learn better coping skills during those stressful years. I honestly think I'm a better person for it.

I struggled with one of my siblings in general, and their behavior associated with their took almost 10 years of use (that started in the early teens), but they finally started making the active decision to end thier use. And now, they want to go back to school to be a counselor for addicts.


springrose said...

I do not have anyone in my family, that I know of, that is addicted to medictions. But I have plenty addicted to other things. My nephew almost ruined his parents financially. He became addicted to porn. They were heart broken, as was the rest of the family. They ended up sending him to a school in Utah to help him get past it. But I know it is always in the back of their minds if he is truely better. The counselor told them that porn is worse then any drug. It chemically alters the brain the first time that you see porn. But unlike drugs you can't get that image out of your system and your brain can recall it at any moment even uninvited. And because of the chemical change in the brain you will always want more, no matter how long it has been since the last time you saw it.
Seeing my in laws go thru this has been heart breaking. This son was and still is so smart. When I say he could have been a brain surgeon I litterally believe he could have been a brain surgeon. Now he his finally not working fast food. (he is 23) all his friends are getting married and moving forward with their lives. But he has a hard time keeping a girlfriend.
How do you help a family member? How do you protect yourself and children? I have no answers except prayer. I am not an expert. But I do believe the other comments you have received about counceling for you would be a great start. Plus never stop praying for yourself, family (your children) and the person with the addiction.
Hang in there. Things can change! Miracles do and will happen. I always find it interesting to find out why it even started in the first place. Sometimes that is our best defence for our children and future family. To protect them from even starting! You are in my prayers!!!

Anonymous said...

I've had little personal contact with addiction, but I do have a close family member who struggled for years with a pornagraphic addiction. When they finally couldn't stand it any longer, and tried to get things back on track, it was incredible the amount of lives it effected. Obviously, the family and children. But what about extended family? friends? I often think people who struggle with addictions have a limited outlook-they can only see what effects themselves. What they can't see is the pain and confusion they cause to everyone around them.

I'm sorry the pain you're going through. It's nice that you've found a friend that feels like you do, but it sucks that there have to be people out there like that, you know?

Pedaling said...

yep- got one in the family- i no longer live in the same state- but can see the train wreck from a distance.
I've never been to an al-anon meeting, nor have her other close family members as far as i know- but it would probably be a good idea.
anyway, it's crazy stuff and if you have an adult who refuses to admit the obvious, then i don't know what one can do, other than watch them self destruct.
so very sad and frustrating.
This particular person now has no meaninful relationships in her life- she no longer has a job (was once a respected RN) her kids are embarrassed and disgusted with her- through they still love her- she bounces from place to place, she's messy, un-kept, she lies, she can't ever get her act together, she shows up to family events high- she fights, loses control and she's 54 years old!
Not much advice I guess from me- the only thing we've really done is to love without giving. Sounds so selfish, but from what I understand, they must hit rock bottom so if we pay her rent, help her get a car or buy her groceries, then it is just continuing to enable. Sometimes a persons rock bottom is dying. :(

Kim said...

You already know my story - of my own alcoholism and my husband's addiction. I know we've talked about it in detail before - don't EVER hesitate to contact me about it again. Ever. In fact, I shall kick your butt if you don't. ;)

Amander said...

My grandmother was addicted to opiates (in pill form) and huffing for basically all the years I remember of her.

At the time I knew she had a "problem", everyone knew she had a "problem", but we didn't call it what it was...she was a drug addict. When I look back now, I think it's a shame that my family couldn't accept the "problem" for what it was and then try and get help and move on. Instead it was shrouded in secrecy and it was seen as a nuisance. And it led to a very early death for her.

Even now when I talk with my family members about Grandma's addiction, no one wants to call it that. They all want to remember her "clean." Which I can totally understand, however I never really knew her "clean," so I don't have that luxury.

And now, I'm a substance abuse counselor, so I see addiction every day. And no one wants to admit they are addicted. The stigma people attach to that word prevents many people from seeing their problem for what it is.

AA or OA meetings might be great for you. They can be somewhat intimidating at first, and sometimes certain groups aren't a good fit, so you might want to try a few out.

If individual counseling is an option for you, I think that could be quite helpful. You may even want to see someone who is a substance abuse counselor because they might better understand your family dynamics.

Anyway, that was my two cents (or twenty five cents). You are always free to email me as well.

That Girl said...

Yes, I have a loved one struggling with addiction - but not the drug or alcohol kind. He's addicted to porn and cross dressing, and it's ripping apart so many family members and friends.

Part of the problem is that it's complete taboo to talk about it. If I try to talk about it with him - offer help, or whatever - he shuts down and goes into major denial.

Pain and anger? Yeah, I feel ya.

The Kooky Queen--Rachel said...

Yes, yes, yes! It *is* sad and heart breaking. My sister is trying to pull herself out of the leaches of a meth addiction. My dad and a few siblings have severe food addictions. And me--I seem to have a BLOG addiction. I'm not trying to be funny here, I really am addicted to blogs and Facebook and checking my email and I feel totally lame that I can't go more than 2 days without them. Granted, I would rather have that than meth or a food addiction, but I do feel if I let myself, I could have a food addiction too. It's mind over matter I suppose but for some people, they can't control the mind so matter wins. What is your story? I need to get to know you better, girl! :) Where do you work that involves people with addictions? Love this post!! Way to hit home!

wendy said...

Oh wow, Isn't if funny how we want to "hide" behind doors, smile and pretend all is well ---cause that's how we want it to be and feel that's how it SHOULD be.
I feel your pain.
My son who is 32 is a drug and alcohol addict.
It has cost him is job
a divorce
lack of being able to be with his chilren without supervision.
He breaks my heart over and over and over.
He refuses to do anything about it right now. Has been in and out of rehab. In denial.
We have always been so close, but he resents my moving up here to Canada and even told me to "F" off on phone call. I cried and cried and cried.
It hurts.
I too think I have a bit of an addictive personality......I think it is a gene--------that one needs to be aware of and find a way to control
I HATE it, hate it, hate it.

tammy said...

My BIL struggled with alcohol and drug addiction for years. It was heartbreaking to watch, when we knew he had so much potential, and was so hard on my MIL & FIL. They tried helping him many times. They took him to AA meetings and rehab, tried tough love, everything they could think of. He finally ended up agreeing to a rehab that's up there in UT and it was the only one that helped. They not only helped him with the addictions, but helped him to figure out what was causing him to want to do drugs. Then they didn't just stop there, but they helped wean him into real life again by giving him an apartment, a roommate and a job until he was able to make it on his own. It cost a pretty penny, but it worked. If you need the name of it, I can find out for you.

It also helped him when he started dating someone who was supportive and understanding and who would take him to church. He just got baptized in the Catholic church, but if that's what works for him, I'm all for it.

So sorry you have to deal with this.

Anonymous said...

Hiding behind ANON because I am not ready to be open about my own struggles and the struggles of one of my kids.

As one who has an addiction - it feels lonely. In a world where Moms are supposed to be perfect and the "rock" of the family, it makes it even harder to face your own truth of failure. Easier to self soothe with your addiction of choice.

As the mother of an addict, I can see why and how it happened, and since I am the one to have likely passed the gene and enabled the behavior, I feel more guilt than I can even begin to describe.

Thus the vicious cycle of self-soothe, beat self up, self-soothe some more. Round an around and around.

Been to therapists, but didn't seem to feel like I was understood, or taken seriously, so I just put the smile on and go forward. It's much easier to joke and laugh it all off, than to face reality.

Great question - I feel for you. Wherever you find answers and solace is the right place to be.

Vanessa said...

I am thinking about you :)

Mr. Stupid said...

My Uncle was addicted to Smoking. It took him almost an year to get rid of the habit. It took a lot of counseling and his family was always with him to help him out.

I am addicted to Chocolates and Candies. Its really hard to let go!

Have a good day! Smiles:)

Anonymous said...

So much I want to say here... I had a brother who's addiction to drugs eventually led to his suicide. And if we are being painfully honest, his suicide was not the worst thing. The pain and destruction he caused the people who loved him the most is nothing that can be put into words. He filled our house with terror and violence. The shadow of life with him still influences my family greatly. So here is the ugly truth, as much as you love the addicts in your life, if their behavior is affecting your peace of mind, or your physical/emotional security, you may have to let them go. I know I sound so mean or unforgiving, but the truth is, there is very little that can be done for an addict who WANTS to be an addict. Dont surrender yourself to their destructive behavior- you deserve better.

Sjs said...
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Jeanette said...

I just jumped here randomly from MMB. I don't know if anyone else mentioned it, but the church has an addiction recovery program based on AA's 12 steps, but with the gospel perspective on it. The group meets weekly around here and is totally confidential.

Rachel Sue said...

I have a loved one who struggles with an addiction. And no one ever talks about it and almost no one knows. And it's so hard to deal with the pain and betrayal alone.

I think it's because if they don't see the problem, don't acknowledge it, then their consciences are clear about not doing anything about it. And it's hard.

Anonymous said...

I'm within an inch of going to some of the Church-sponsored meetings for family members, because I'm losing my mind over my husband's addiction. The frustrating part is that it's a socially acceptable one, but it still affects me and our kids in massively powerful ways, just like any other addiction. His addiction is food.

My sister's husband has his own addiction--one related to sexuality. But as we've shared our heartaches, I've be stunned to find just how similar our lives are. The type of addiction doesn't matter. Addiction is addiction.

He won't get help. He knows he's addicted on some intellectual level, but it's more like, "Yeah, I like food and shouldn't indulge like I do when I'm emotional." He doesn't GET that it's tearing our family and marriage apart in a hundred ways, that it makes him emotionally abusive, that his health sucks rocks because of the extra 130 pounds and THAT is another toll on everyone. And so on.

I'm looking into getting therapy for myself just to cope.

冠廷 said...
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AS Amber said...

I'm sorry you're having to go through this, my friend. You're in my thoughts and prayers!

Love you!

tiburon said...

I left you an anonymous comment - but wanted to check back and see how things were going.

Thinking about you. Please let me know if there is anything I can do.

Anonymous said...

Here's an interesting thought: What if addiction is not the problem, what if it is just a symptom?

Omgirl said...

YES! You are not alone. My brother in law is a heroin addict. he is currently clean, but he's been in and out of jail 8-10 times and still has the potential to fall off the wagon, AGAIN. And like your family, it's all kept hush hush in his family. That is to say, no one talks about it until it's at its worst and he is about to go to jail, has stolen everything the family owns, and is breaking into our house, etc. If you ever want to talk about it, I'm always always game for a good venting session! Just email me and I'll send you my number.

And I'm sorry you're going through this. :(

sjswitch said...