This is a guest post from board-registered interventionist and family counselor Ricki Townsend.
We all experience anger and resentment as we deal with our addicted or alcoholic loved ones. We may be angry because their substance use disorder is derailing our lives and sucking up our time and money. Their alcohol or drug abuse may be driving a wedge between family members, or tearing the family apart. We may be resentful when our loved ones do a disappearing act that leaves us behind to pick up all the pieces. And we may be very angry (and hard on ourselves) if we’ve been fighting the monster of addiction for so long without even recognizing this wily foe: “All this time, s/he’s been messed up by alcohol, and I didn’t even know. How stupid am I?”
This is a guest post fromRicki Townsend, a board-registered Interventionist, Drug/Alcohol Counselor, Chaplain and Grief Recovery Specialist
“My twenty-year-old daughter does very well in college, but has had two DUIs and also a short stint in jail for pot. I don’t want to take her out of college to get help, but I am worried.”
Two DUIs by the age of 20, plus some jail time for pot? Your daughter sounds like she is in the throes of addiction or alcoholism. Please remember addiction/alcohlism/Substance Use Disorder is a brain disease, a disease that is chemically-driven by mood-altering substances including drugs and alcohol. She needs serious help.
Her whole life is ahead of her, so give her a chance to heal and get back on track. Many, many young people have gone back to school later in life and found great success. Most importantly, taking a critical year off to get healthy will not derail her academics, but addiction will.
What could 2019 look like without alcohol or other drugs? Let me count the ways…
No more harm to self or others. Fewer fights. No more trips to the pawn shop to retrieve family jewelry. Fewer trips to the ER. Fewer trips to jail, the courthouse or prison. Fewer car accidents, or accidents in general. No more covering up to Grandma, Grandpa and friends. Less self-hatred. Less sorrow and disappointment. Fewer broken marriages. Fewer lost jobs. Fewer disability claims. Less domestic violence. Less child abuse. Fewer secrets.
The shame, sadness and anger associated with substance use disorder can tear families apart. By the same token, drug and alcohol treatment can often restore families to health. Admittedly, that doesn’t happen overnight because it can take a long time to restore trust, which is the bedrock of any relationship.
Substance use disorder ("alcohoism" or "addiction") has been described as a “wily and deceitful disease” that thrives in the dark. The sheer shame and desperation of this disease cause people to hide their problem and to cover their tracks, even from those who love them the most.
During active alcoholism or drug addiction, trust is one of the first things to go and one of the last things to be restored. The person in recovery needs to re-earn the trust of those who were injured along the way. As interventionist/family counselor Ricki Townsend explains, the “trust jar” filled with shiny pebbles can only be refilled with acts of honesty and integrity, one stone at a time. And that takes time.
Substance use disorder can beat us all down, whether we’re the person abusing alcohol/drugs or the abuser’s loved one. And the holidays can come down especially hard on all of us. We may be sad to find ourselves arm-wrestling with this mystifying brain disease at what should be a joyful time of year. We may be angry about past holiday disruptions and disappointments. And we’re most likely apprehensive about what the New Year holds. So, this is a good time to look at the miracle of recovery and meet several people who can be beacons of hope for us all.