I’VE SPENT SO MUCH OF MY CAREER HELPING OTHERS RECOVER FROM THE IMPACT OF ADDICTION: INFIDELITY, DIVORCE, INCARCERATION, BANKRUPTCY, SUICIDE, FATALITIES – THE LIST GOES ON.

NOT SURPRISINGLY, THE PERSON WHO FREQUENTS MY SPACE IS TYPICALLY THE SPOUSE, SIBLING OR PARENT OF THE ADDICT RATHER THAN THE ACTUAL ADDICT HIM/HERSELF. IT IS, AFTER ALL, THE LOVED ONES WHO EXPERIENCE THE BRUNT OF THE DAMAGE – EMOTIONALLY, SPIRITUALLY, FINANICIALLY – AND EVEN PHYSICALLY, AS THEY SPARE THEIR OWN HEALTH AND SAFETY TO SAVE ANOTHER’S. THEY ARE THE ONES WHO RISK THEIR FINANCES, JOBS, FAMILIES, SECURITY AND SANITY ON A WING AND A PRAYER THEIR LOVED ONE WILL COME TO THEIR SENSES AND CHOOSE THE ENLIGHTENED PATH.

THE SADEST TRUTH IS THAT THE FARTHER THE LOVED ONE STRETCHES THEMSELF TO HELP, THE SEEMINGLY WORSE THE ADDICTS BECOMES. BECAUSE HERE’S THE REALITY, DRUG AND ALCOHOL ADDICTION IS A LIFESTYLE. IT’S NOT JUST A SINGLE BEHAVIOR; IT IS A GROUP OF BEHAVIORS. DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIORS, TO BE MORE PRECISE. AND ADDICTIONS TYPICALLY FORM IN CLUSTERS AND INVOLVE MULTIPLE LEVELS OF DECEPTION (SELF DECEPTION AND DECEPTION OF OTHERS).

IT IS PERVASIVE. IT AFFECTS THE WAY ONE THINKS (OR DOESN’T THINK); THE WAY ONE FEELS (OR DOESN’T FEEL) AND THE WAY ONE ACTS (OR OVER-REACT/UNDER-REACTS). MOREOVER, IT AFFECTS ONE’S ABILITY TO RATIONALLY – ETHICALLY – CONSISTENTLY CALCULATE RISK – WHETHER IT’S THEIR OWN OR SOMEONE ELSES. AND IT IS DEEPLY ROOTED IN CHILDHOOD TRAUMA – WHICH VERY FEW MODALITIES (INCLUDING IN-PATIENT TREATMENT CENTERS) ARE PREPARED TO FULLY ADDRESS.

IT IS SIMPLY – IN THE MAJORITY OF CASES – A LOSING BATTLE TO CONVINCE ANOTHER TO GIVE UP THE DRUG AND AN EVEN BIGGER BATTLE TO BE LOST WHILE ONE WAITS FOR AN ADDICT TO SHED THE CHARACTERISTICS AND LIFESTYLE OF AN ADDICT. AND WHY WOULD THEY GIVE UP EITHER, WHEN THERE IS ALWAYS SOMEONE THERE TO PUT OUT THE FIRE THEY STARTED?

I HAVE INDEED ENCOUNTERED SOME RATHER INCREDIBLE ALBEIT PUZZLING STORIES: CLIENTS WHO STRUGGLE WITH SEVERE DRUG AND/OR ALCOHOL ADDICTIONS WHILE HOLDING DOWN HIGH RESPONSIBILITY JOBS FOR DECADES ON END; RAISING KIDS, NOW GROWN, SUCCESSFUL AND PRODUCTIVE (OR SO I’M TOLD); RUNNING MULTIPLE COMPANIES AND ACCUMULATING SUBSTANTIAL WEALTH, ETC. HOW DID THEY PULL THIS OFF WITHOUT GETTING FIRED? WITHOUT BEING INVESTIGATED BY CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES? WITHOUT LOSING THEIR COMPANIES, ASSETS, HOME? HOW EVER DID THEIR MARRIAGES LAST?

IT IS RATHER MYSTIFYING UNTIL YOU REALIZE THAT – SOONER OR LATER – IT ALL CATCHES UP. THE LEVEL OF CHAOS GOING ON BEHIND THE SCENES – COMPLETELY NORMALIZED YET INTRACATELY WOVEN THROUGH EVERY OTHER LAYER OF ONE’S EXISTENCE – EVENTUALLY BUBBLES TO THE SURFACE IN THE FORM OF IRREVERSIBLE HEALTH ISSUES, BANKRUPTCY, FORECLOSURE, DIVORCE, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION/CHARGES, ETC.

BECAUSE THE BOTTOM LINE IS – ONE CANNOT BE AN ACTIVE ADDICT AND A FULLY FUNCTIONING ADULT, NOR CAN AN ADDICT BE HONEST IN THEIR ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES, WHEN THEY CANNOT EVEN BE HONEST WITH THEMSELVES. AND EVEN IN THE EVENT AN ADDICT CHOOSES TO GIVE UP THE DRUG, THE COMPLETE RECOVERY PROCESS IS SO MUCH MORE EXPANSIVE. THE MORE PERVASIVE THE ADDICTIVE LIFESTYLE AND THE ASSOCIATED CHARACTERISTICS, THE HARDER IT BECOMES TO CLIMB BACK UP TO A STATE OF NORMALCY.

IN MY EXPERIENCE, THE ADDICTION LIFESTYLE RECOVERY PROCESS TAKES AT LEAST A DECADE, BUT TYPICALLY LONGER BECAUSE THERE IS SO MUCH DAMAGE CONTROL AND/OR DAMAGE RECOVERY THAT NEEDS TO TAKE PLACE. AND THE LEVEL OF SELF-AWARENESS, PERSONAL RESPONSIBILTY AND EMOTIONAL/SPIRITUAL GROWTH THAT MUST OCCUR TO SUPPORT THIS PROCESS CANNOT EXACTLY BE RUSHED. IT HAPPENS IN STEPS AND STAGES STRETCHED OVER TIME.

TO ELIMINATE THE ADDICTION LIFESTYLE, A PERSON IN ACTIVE RECOVERY WILL NEED TO SEEK IMPROVEMENTS IN THE FOLLOWING AREAS (THIS IS NOT AN EXHAUSTIVE LIST): ADDRESSING AND RELEASING CHILDHOOD TRAUMA; FINDING AND MAINTAINING A JOB AND HEALTHY WORK RELATIONSHIPS; MANAGING FINANCES – PAYING BILLS, FILING TAXES, BUDGETING, SAVING, INVESTING, PAYING OFF DEBT, INSURING ONESELF AND ONE’S PROPERTY; CREATING AND SUSTAINING A LIVABLE ENVIRONMENT (CLEAN, SAFE, AT LEAST MODERATELY ORGANIZED); MENDING FAMILY AND PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS; FINDING A NEW COMMUNITY OF FRIENDS AND SUPPORT; CARING FOR ONE’S PHYSICAL BODY AND LEARNING TO MANAGE ONE’S EMOTIONS.  THESE ARE CHALLENGING TASKS EVEN FOR THOSE WITHOUT THE BAGGAGE OF ADDICTION.

FOR THOSE WHO HAVE SPENT TIME IN MY CHAIR LOOKING FOR ANSWERS – AND FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT YET REACHED OUT FOR SUPPORT, MY MESSAGE IS THIS:

  • THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A HIGH FUNCTIONING ADDICT.
  • NO AMOUNT OF EFFORT MADE ON BEHALF OF AN ACTIVE USER WILL INFLUENCE SIGNIFICANT, LONG-TERM CHANGE.
  • THE ADDICT NEEDS TO LEARN, EXPERIENCE AND CONSISTENTLY PRACTICE HOW TO BE AN ADULT – COGNITIVELY, EMOTIONALLY AND PHYSICALLY – AND EXPERIENCE THE NATURAL CONSEQUENCES OF HIS/HER OWN FAILURES TO BE IN ACTIVE RECOVERY.
  • RECOVERY NOT ONLY REFERS TO THE GIVING UP OF THE DRUG, BUT RATHER THE SHEDDING OF THE ADDICTION LIFESTYLE AND ASSOCIATED CHARACTERISTICS.

 

ARE YOU IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH AN ADDICT? DROP AN EMAIL TO  amy@sensoriumhypnosis.com AND BEGIN YOUR OWN RECOVERY PROCESS NOW.

 

 

Amy Marohn
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