- Written by Joe White
It was 15 years ago and my life was different. Growing up I didn’t plan on being a drug addict. I came from a good family, parents who loved each other and their kids.
As a matter of fact, this year they are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. All the love and good upbringing didn’t matter as my dreams were replaced with a constant pain that could only be numbed by a drink or a drug. I woke everyday with the thought that this day was going to be my final day of using and ended each night chasing my high. Rock bottoms were replaced by a lower low. And this was my life for 8 years.
Funny how a moment appears from nowhere that changes everything. I was watching TV at 1 am and an infomercial appeared for a series of tapes that claimed to change your life in 30 days. Skeptical yet I kept on watching and watched again for three consecutive nights. Finally out of desperation and not inspiration I purchased those tapes. 15 years later I look back and see that night in November of 1994 as a defining moment of my life. It lead me on a path which I broke free from my addiction and inspired a passion that created Get Life Coaching in 1999.
As a result of my journey I am consistently asked by loved ones of addicts for guidance, insight, or to participate in an intervention. I try to offer hope and some direction. As painful as it is, there are no easy solutions to help an addict. Just the truth. Addicts can change but all won’t and life must continue for you even if the addict never recovers. You cannot force anyone to quit or to enter rehab. All the love in the world from you, from their children may not be enough to break though their walls. That is what hurts the most, when love is not enough.
I wish I could tell you to do X, Y, and then Z or here is “how to know when it is time to explore tough love” but I cannot nor anyone can. Tough decisions must be made and at what point is helping them actually hurting them. That is a decision you live with for the rest of your life regardless of the outcome. To make this decision you must know you have done all that you could have done. That is foothold.
Your greatest resource is clarity, but clarity is so hard to find when you are in the middle of it. As challenging as it is you must seek clarity and come to terms with your own limitations.
My coaching would be to seek out wisdom from others who have been in similar situations. Groups like Nar-Anon and Al-Anon are a great start. You need to know you are not alone. Through others support, knowledge, and experience you can strive for a level of understanding and peace. When you choose to stop enabling; it doesn’t mean you stop loving or believing. It means that you are choosing to do what is best for the addict because they cannot do that for themselves as you protect those who are not in addiction from being destroyed also. Losing a loved one to addiction is a great lost but losing others because of their addiction is a tragedy.
I am and as so many others are, testimonials for those who do change. In my 15 years I have witnessed the bleakest situations turnaround. I have seen tears of pain transform into tears of joy. Addicts have become amazing moms and dads. Relationships have risen from the ashes. The irresponsible and self centered addicts now find drive, success, and responsibility. I have seen addicts recover and rediscover their former selves. The light has come back into their eyes and warmth back into their hearts. There are addicts who break free from using and have amazing impact on others and the world. The journey back is never easy but in the end the old belief of, “once an addict always an addicted” is only a myth.
Ultimately the recovery of an individual who is addicted to drugs or alcohol is solely the responsibility of that individual and no one else. You can assist them, guide them but that is as far as you can go. Find strength, hope, and love from those around you.
My thoughts and prayers are with you.