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Dealing with Addiction in the Family

By Dr. Margaret Paul
December 31, 2006

Is someone you love harming themselves with an addiction? Learn how you can be of help to yourself and the addicted person.

addictionDealing with addicted family members is always a big challenge. There are some important issues to explore when someone you love is harming themselves.

Are you contributing to the problem?

People use various addictions to avoid their painful feelings, especially their feelings of anxiety, stress, aloneness, emptiness and loneliness. Is there some way that you are contributing to their pain? While you are not responsible for how someone deals with pain, you are responsible for anything you are doing that may be contributing to it. Some of the ways you might be contributing are:

  • Being judgmental toward the addicted person in an effort to control them regarding their addictions or other behavior.
  • Caretaking the addicted person by covering up for them or doing things for them that they need to be doing for themselves.
  • Being discounting or dismissive toward them, when they try to share their feelings with you, about something you might be doing that is difficult for them.
  • Telling yourself that you are responsible for them, rather than taking loving care of yourself.

Accepting your lack of control

Regardless of how you might be contributing to the problem, their choice to act out addictively is still 100% their choice, and you cannot control this. When you do not accept your powerlessness over another's choices and behavior, then you might stay in situations that are detrimental to you, trying to get the other person to change.

Staying tuned in to your own feelings and needs

Are you focused on the addicted person rather than on your feelings and needs? Are you putting yourself aside in your attempts to help them? Are you abandoning yourself in your efforts to get them to stop abandoning themselves and harming themselves?

If you focus on your own feelings and your responsibility for yourself, what would you be doing differently? Are you feeling sad, used, angry, or anxious much of the time? If this is the case, then you need to start taking care of yourself rather than abandoning yourself.

Taking loving action

If you completely accept your lack of control over the other person and stop caretaking them or judging them, and if you tune into yourself and discover that you are distressed as a result of this relationship, then you have some hard decisions to make.

It is very important to understand that whatever is truly in your highest good, is also in the highest good of all. When you take loving care of yourself, you open the door for others to take loving care of themselves.

What are some of the loving actions to take regarding the addicted person?

  • Join the appropriate 12-Step group to help you move out of enabling the addicted person and out of enmeshment with him or her.
  • Get professional help to heal your need to control through your caretaking or through being judgmental.
  • Contact a professional who does interventions and bring together all the people who are sad about the situation and are willing to stop contact with the addicted person until he or she goes into a treatment center or gets some other form of good help.
  • Decide for yourself that you will no longer be involved with the family member as long as he or she is acting out the addiction. This means leaving the relationship, which may be a very hard thing to do. You may need professional help to take this action.
  • Accept the person as he or she is, completely accepting that the addiction will continue, and learn to take care of yourself within the situation.
  • Start a devoted Inner Bonding practice to heal your own controlling behavior, take responsibility for your feelings, connect with your spiritual guidance, and gain the strength to take loving care of yourself.
  • Join the Inner Bonding membership community and receive much help and support.

When you completely accept your lack of control and deal with your own controlling behavior, then you can open to learning about the loving action to take on your own behalf and on behalf of the addicted family member.

Heal your relationship with Dr. Margaret’s 30-Day online relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


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