Are You Walking on Egg Shells When You See Your Loved One?
The pain and suffering is not limited to the addict himself. The family also shares the brunt of the pain. They also experience worry, fear, judgment, anger, and shame on a daily basis. Many times, the family absorbs the consequences of their loved one’s use; especially the financial costs associated with the addiction.
The disease turns love and concern into something more enabling. The help ends up not being helpful at all. If directed towards positive interventions and strategies, families can be there when the person is ready and motivated to seek help and they can provide guidance. If all else fails, the family can positively detach themselves from the powerful consequences and cease the enabling behavior.
The disease of addiction will aggressively resist a family’s efforts to say, “no” and stop enabling. Every manipulation will be exhibited in an effort to get the family to continue with their “normal” ways.
In the beginning, the family’s mission is to help their loved one and there is little interest in helping themselves. The family will need to start a process to end enabling behaviors along with withdrawing inappropriate support. The individual who is suffering from addiction will then be more likely to seek help and be able to rejoin and become more accepted within the family.
I cannot stress enough the need for support for the family members as they make these behavioral and emotional changes. Counseling agencies need to provide family education support groups. By facing their fears (and sometimes their own daemons) the family will be able to whether the emotional storm that will follow when one ends the enabling behavior.