Giving up & asking for help is the key to lasting change
Learn what doesn’t work and why… plus, what to do differently for your addict/alcoholic family member
One of the most difficult things to accept is that your loved-one is sick beyond anything the family can do.
You know this because you’ve tried every possible thing to help but it’s simply not enough to get the person back to ‘normal’.
I know this too, because my family tried everything we could think of to save my little brother, but he still died in his addiction.
Admitting your family needs help is not being weak, it’s realistic!
Admitting that you need help is not an admission of failure or giving up, you are finally reaching the point in this disease where you recognize a need for help. That’s all!, which is a very good thing.
Seeking help doesn’t mean you should have been able to solve this problem on your own (like you have solved so many other challenges). It simply means that you understand addiction & behavioral disorders are very complex issues which require professionals who have personal ‘lived’ experience with these same issues.
If you were dealing with cancer you wouldn’t hesitate to call-on professionals to save a life. Dealing with addiction can be a little tricky because a primary characteristic is bad behavior, but, it is also a brain-disease which requires a recovery process that encompasses the entire person- mind-body-soul-spirit
The behavior is so bad, must be a moral issue
It's easy to believe you are dealing with a moral breakdown within the addict or alcoholic because their behavior can be so revolting, at times. Most families address what they see the most, the bad behavior;
Families tend to believe that if they can make the addict/alcoholic's life more comfortable, then they will want to stop the madness. This thinking only works with rationale thinking humans - the addict/alcoholic does not perceive the world the same way... yet!
Examples of things families do when trying to save the life of their loved-one… and rarely, if ever, works!
“We’ll get them back on their feet, by”
- Taking them back to church
- Buying a new car (or fix the old one)
- Pay-off all their debts to give them a clean start
- Pay rent for another 6 months
- Enroll them back into school (and pay for it)
- Buy new clothes
- Encourage them to change friends
- Send them to a short-term rehab for a “quick-fix”
- Pay all the lawyer fees
- Immediately post bail
And, by doing so, the family unwittingly takes away all responsibility from the addict/alcoholic to have to change anything. The addict/alcoholic literally gets away with all the bad behavior, poor decision-making, and, horrible coping skills, as of they have truly been a victim (they just want you think they are victims, that’s how they manipulate).
The take-away is that the addict/alcoholic never changes by being made more comfortable because they don’t HAVE to change.
It’s only a matter of time before the addict/alcoholic does what their brain is programmed to do… Drink, use drugs, and, self-destruct!
No amount of ‘propping-up-the-addict’ with external comforts will make any difference, anymore than you could buy a cancer patient a brand new home to cure them.
Accountability is a foundational key to lasting recovery and takes time to implement… and, usually doesn’t come from the family, at least in the beginning. Families are too emotionally charged, professionals are needed for such a task who can teach both addict/alcoholic AND families how to develop an accountable relationship.
I’ll give you a teaser and then I have to get back to our topic of the day
Dear Families of addict/alcoholics, please stop doing for your loved-one what they should be doing for them-self. Do not do anything for them that they didn’t earn
you can read much more on this topic at www.justinslighthouse.com
- Stop making phone calls they should be making
- Stop paying for cell phone bills if they won’t even stay in touch
- Don’t buy anything unless they have first shown improvement (families tend to believe the promise of better behavior BEFORE any has been exhibited)
- Stop cleaning up their messes
I hope you noticed that the primary words are “Don’t & Stop“.
If you really want to achieve lasting recovery for your loved-one, you need the guidance of professionals who have been exactly where you are, right now.
Don’t do anything without guidance – stop feeling your way through this process, it isn’t working!
If your loved-one had cancer you’d be calling the Oncologist 8 times a day to find out what to do next. With addiction-recovery, we all think we can handle it. Well, it’s not getting handled or you wouldn’t have read this far.
There are professionals out there, myself included, who have made all the same mistakes but who now have the expertise to lead you and your addict/alcoholic through this process, and come out on the other side.
I have dedicated my life to helping families avoid the mistake that my family made so that your situation doesn’t have to end like ours did.
For the past 18 years we have helped thousands of families and can help your, the exact same way.
It’s a brain disease, not a moral issue!
Bad behavior is just a symptom
So, when we stop treating addiction/alcoholism as a behavioral problem, and start treating it as a symptom of a disease, guess what happens…?
You got it, the problem goes away!
The solution for changing the pathways of the brain, the pre-programmed parts of the brain that leads the addict/alcoholic to drink and use, even when life is going well, lies in slowly changing the behavior through systematic, daily routine of consistency, learning, and applying what they are learning.
As the addict/alcoholic begins to change their own behavior, by following instructions, and, this usually involves activities that the addict/alcoholic sees as “boring”, or “stupid”, or, “a waste of time”.
Keep this in mind, if the addict/alcoholic knew how to fix themselves they would’ve already done it! Of course the addict/alcoholic sees the solution as boring, stupid, and a waste of time. They don’t have a clue what the solution looks like!
The addict/alcoholic brain has been under construction for some time, now. Long before they began to drink or use. Achieving lasting results in recovery requires a longer runway than most traditional treatments can offer.
Over time, typically 6-8 months of total sobriety, consistent daily routine, and learning an enormous amount of new information about themselves, the pathways in the brain actually heal. The brain even creates new pathways.
Science shows us that the brain takes 12-18 months to heal
What this all means of that the brain gets re-programmed by changing behavior until one day the default-behavior of reaching for booze or drugs during good or bad times, is transformed into completely new coping mechanisms, of which drinking and drugging are no longer on the option-table.
Addicts/alcoholics literally default into drinking and using because that’s what their brain tells them to do. Changing these defaults takes time but success is extremely predictable as long as the patient invests in the time.
Recovery is always achieved when you understand which tools to use.
Unfortunately, traditional treatment models are not designed for lasting change. They are built to give the patient short-term relief without instilling any real weapons to fight the fight of addiction/alcoholism!
The greatest success in recovery comes from long-term programs
Families have already invested year after year, dollar after dollar to save their addict/alcoholic, to no avail. Some families run out of time and their loved-one dies in the process of trying to save them.
If you are a family still in the fight, then believe me when I tell you, in spite of how hopeless your situation seems, it is absolutely not a hopeless case.
Once you put that down that hammer and pick up a scalpel, you will get entirely different results.
I, of course, suggest, Justin’s Lighthouse long-term recovery program, where we don’t hear many stories of relapses from our alumni.
The calls we receive from our graduates are about how they are now 10+ years sober, raising their own family, owning their own businesses, and have learned how to be free from all compulsions… all because they were willing to invest 12 months of their life into completely changing their life.. and that’s what they get, a completely new life!
Families have their own issues
Yes, family members are also dealing with their own issues, including resentments, fears, suspicions, anger, and more, within an already complex disorder. Family members are good with putting their own hurts on the back-burner to focus on the addict/alcoholic… but what about your pain?
At Justin’s lighthouse we include the whole family throughout the entire process of recovery. Not just a “family day” but every week we work with families apart from the addict/alcoholic and sometimes with their addict/alcoholic. We want everybody to heal!
In many ways, addiction is much more painful and confusing for families than if they were dealing with cancer. With addiction or alcoholism, you never know where you stand. As long as you’re abiding by the demands of the addict/alcoholic then all is ‘fine’, but the second you say ‘NO’, then all heck breaks loose.
Hearing the word ‘No’ is like a cross to a vampire
This mini drama of saying YES when you mean ‘NO’, simply to avoid a melt-down and keep a little peace in the house is the very behavior (on both sides) that will keep the situation getting worse, and, the addict closer to jail, institutions, or death.
There is never a good time to get help but it’s always the right time! The addict will tell you they don’t want professional help, they just need a little more money, or a job, a car, etc, to make their life better. if you could just provide those things then they’ll promise to ‘get better’.
Stop falling for this manipulation! That’s not how addicts get better, and you know this because you’ve already been down that road, several times.
Never forget this…
If Addicts had within themselves the emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, and psychological development to change their lives in their own power, they would have already done it.
lasting-change must come from the outside, from professionals who can offer lots of new information, space to heal, room for resistance along the way, until ultimately a complete transformation into a new person.
Whether you call Justin’s Lighthouse, or somebody else, please ask for help today.
Thank you for reading this far, and I invite you check out my other articles.
The madness stops when the family says;
“we love you but we aren’t willing to help you self-destruct”
Check out more articles on our blog/
Justin’s Lighthouse Recovery/Bog
Miles K Lewis, PhD, C-PRSS
Recovery Ranger keeping you informed to help you on your journey of self-discovery