Being involved with an addict can be the most tumultuous and misunderstood situation we can go through. I know because I have been there. An addict will do most anything to uphold his/her addiction. The addiction becomes first and foremost in that person’s life and all else will suffer because of it. It is a very difficult position to be in being we can hardly understand what is happening. The wonderful person that we met and fell in love with flipped almost overnight and we are left holding the remnants of how the relationship use to be and what we know is inevitably the end of that dream.
For those of you who may be questioning if your loved one has an addiction problem, I invite you to read what I refer to as: The Six Stages of Recognizing You are With an Addict.
Usually when I write articles I am so inspired and uplifted. However, writing this one initially left me feeling a little sad knowing that my brothers and sisters who will be reading this are on a strenuous roller coaster ride that seems to have no end. But soon enough that sadness switched to compassion, because the truth is, this is there are answers to this situation and you can overcome this difficulty. You can and will come out of this relationship healed and whole but the very first step is to recognize that you are indeed with an addict and then forge a positive forward movement from there.
The Six Stages of Recognizing You Are With An Addict:
1. Innocence- We are innocent to what is happening at this point. There are some signs and small red flags, but our innocence of the dynamics of addictions keeps us in the dark and not aware of what really is going on.
2. Blame- We are starting to see a problem and we begin to dialogue with our loved one. They may deny the problem or even blame us for their addiction of choice by saying things like: If you didn’t stress me out so much I wouldn’t have to drink, smoke dope etc. We naively start to believe on some level that we are a part of the problem or the cause of the problem. This is simply not true. It is not our fault.
3. Eyes Opening- Even after several conversations around the subject we continue to see a pattern of behavior or we notice our loved one attempting to now hide. The pattern is indeed there and our eyes are starting to open. We think: Oh no… This IS what I thought it is. He/she does have a problem that they are not admitting or wanting to overcome. I see this clearly now.
4. Searching- This is the stage where we “think” we can help. We begin searching for a solution to move this person past his/her addiction. We are sure there is a better way or a cure for the problem. We stop at nothing and do our best to find the solution. But the truth is, until the person wants to get clean, there is nothing we can do.
5. Acceptance- At this point we have settled into the fact that there really is nothing we can do. We’ve done everything we possibly could. We’ve tried our very best to move our loved one out of their destructive pattern of living. Nothing has worked. This is a good time to understand the three C’s of Al-Anon. *I cannot control this *I did not create this *I cannot cure this. It is a sad time knowing that this is completely out of our hands, but at this stage, we have accepted the status quo.
6. Decision- It is time now for us to make a decision as to what we are going to do. Do I stay in this? Do I take my leave? Who am I going to be in the relationship- an enabler or a courageous person? What is best for me? Most often when we get to this point, we have given up the “dream” of life with our loved one in it and we are in the position to move forward. Although it is scary this is usually the best thing to do. The addict most often has to hit his/her bottom before getting help and your leaving could be that bottom for them. But we must make this healthy decision based solely on what is good for us, not in attempt to manipulate the addict. Remember, we have no control over them. Zero.
By attending many Al-Anon (relatives and family of addicts support group) I discovered that there are some things that we just cannot control and that is the behavior of an addict. Yes, he/she will throw you under the bus. Yes, he/she will lie repeatedly to you. Yes, you are not a priority. Yes, you are powerless over their addiction. This does not mean, however, that you are powerless over your own life. It means this is the time to take your power back and work on strengthening yourself. The dream of a life with them may be over for now, but that does not mean you cannot build and support a whole new dream!