Marilyn Bradford, a licensed Access Consciousness® facilitator with decades of experience in working with addictions in her social work practice in Austin, TX, has some tips for you. She has identified how people living around an addict are likely to feel, as well as some observations about “what works and what doesn’t” that could bring some ease to your life.
If you are around an addict, you are likely to feel and act in the following ways:
Questioning what you know to be true
- Agreeing to and with things you wouldn’t normally agree to
- Helping others out of jams or difficulties they have clearly created for themselves. This can extend to lying for them or doing other behaviors you would not normally engage in.
- Sensing that you don’t matter, no matter what comes out of their mouth
- Tolerating abuse
- Putting up with emergencies as if that were normal. You find yourself dropping everything to help them, or being criticized for not doing so.
- Sacrificing yourself, sometimes to the extreme, such as mortgaging your house for bail money, for example.
- Being the responsible one for you AND the addict; handling all the responsibility for both of you.
- A general sense that everything about the situation is crazy, but you can’t put your finger on what it is exactly, and it’s all your fault anyway
If these behaviors feel familiar to you, chances are good you’re dealing with an addict. Is there anyone reading this that hasn’t dealt with someone who evokes these feelings at some point in their life? Here’s how Bradford recommends you deal with the situation.
1. “Remember, people CHOOSE addiction,” she says. “It is not something that ‘happens’ to them.”
Addiction is generally the result of the “culmination of choices that began in childhood, often the result of misinformation and misinterpretation of events, resulting in a place which seems to offer no choice.”
“Despite what you may have heard,” Bradford says, “addiction is not a permanent state.” However, ending it can only come from a choice of the addicted person. “Because addiction is the result of an individual’s choices, they must choose to being the process to let it go. They must be the ones to choose to take action.”
2. Never try to fix, rescue, change or cure someone who is choosing an addiction.
“It is their choice, it is their life, and you will lose YOU if you attempt to get them to change. Not only that, but you will fail miserably and then probably blame yourself.”
What can you do? “You can offer to get them to someone who can help them if that is something they desire. If they don’t take you up on the offer after a time or two, quit. It’s up to them,” says Bradford.
You can say: “I’m sorry, this doesn’t work for me. I realize that you don’t think you have a problem and I’m not here to argue with you. If you continue drinking, putting work first, being judgmental, then we cannot be together. It just doesn’t work for me.”
Difficult as this may be, especially if it’s a spouse, Bradford reminds you,
“This is taking care of you.”
She tells the story of a friend whose adult son was an obnoxious drunk. The friend told his son he was no longer welcome to visit him when he was drunk. The son was angry, but he complied and the father no longer had to put up with the son insulting everyone around him because he was drunk.
4. Never try to use logic with someone who is choosing addiction. “They aren’t interested, they won’t hear you, and you will end up feeling crazy,” says Bradford.
“They may have 8 DUIs, or have lost their job, or have been neglectful/abusive to friends and family, but they will always have a reason and justification for it.
“Being reasonable and realistic is not something an addict can even comprehend. Not only that, but the more you point things out to them, the more they will resent you.
5. Make a demand of yourself that you become the creator of your life, not the effect of others. Many people who have grown up with a parent who is an addict feel that they are always at the effect of others. This is true whether the parent’s addiction is something obvious like alcohol or drugs, or whether it’s something less recognized like religion, spending, neatness, sports, or perfectionism. Being the effect of others creates a sense of waiting to see what happens so you can know what to do and how to react, rather than being the leader of your own life.
“It’s easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole!” observes Bradford.
7. Go with the energy of what the addict is saying—not their words. If they are telling you that things will change or letting you know how sorry they are, ask yourself if the energy of what they’re saying matches the words.
“It’s also helpful to look at what someone actually does, as opposed to what they say,” Bradford reminds us.
Bradford adds, “Addicts are not bad people, they are people who have chosen a coping skill that is destructive and keeps them separate from themselves and others. The absolute best thing you can do if you have an addict in your life is to be the best you can possibly be!
“Don’t change you for them, don’t allow them to manipulate you, and don’t judge. By being all you can be, you become an example of what else is possible. That may be just the thing the addict needs to begin to question what he/she is doing and to begin to make different choices.”
More information about Bradford’s work is available at www.rightrecoveryforyou.com. Many of the tools she mentions are covered in the beginning Access Consciousness® core classes, Bars, Foundation and Level 1.
She also adds that everyone involved in addiction, the addict and those around them, can benefit from having their Bars run. Information about Access Bars® is available at www.bars.accessconsciousness.com