The Professional’s Perspective is written by interventionist and family counselor Ricki Townsend.Ricki volunteers to run the Sunday Family Meetings at Clean & Sober Recovery Services.
The disease of addiction touches everyone in the family. The family unit loses normalcy as lying, stealing, manipulating and stress become the order of the day. And as much as you may think you are protecting other children in the family, even a young child notices that something is “off.” While you care deeply for your addicted loved one, you must protect the rest of the family until the addict chooses recovery.
Would you allow a stranger who makes you feel unsafe into your home? You need to have the same boundaries with your loved one; he or she cannot be in your home if intuitively you feel uncomfortable or threatened. Admittedly, my suggestions go against the grain of normal parenting where we trust our children. Yet a person who is abusing drugs or alcohol is not trustworthy, and the rules of normal parenting or family relationships do not apply.
In this strange new world, I hope you will seek out professional support for you and your loved one. At the very minimum, attend Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings. It is critical to recognize that addiction to alcohol or other drugs is recognized as a brain disease that requires significant help to turn the tide. Please ask yourself if you would be trying to handle this on your own if your loved one had cancer or diabetes. My hope is that families realize they do not have the education or resources to manage this serious disease and all of the behavioral challenges it creates. No amount of love will heal this. No amount of protection will insulate your family. Your loved one can heal – but you cannot do this on your own.
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