Part one talked about the 12-step fellowship called Al-Anon. As a quick review — Al-Anon is a group that can help a person who is in pain, caused by a loved one’s alcoholism or addiction.
But, what if you have tried five or six meetings and it just does not work for you? Or, what if you like it, but you feel like you need additional help? There are alternatives.
Therapy and counseling
Look for a counselor that has experience with addiction and/or co-dependency. This is especially helpful, if you prefer a one-on-one setting. Some people are shy, and feel more comfortable sharing their feelings in a private environment. But, if you like group support, there are group therapy programs too. If you feel that you have some issues other than co-dependency, individual psychotherapy or psychiatry might be a better fit. This is particularly important for people, suffering in a way that is treated by medication.
Support of Friends and Family
These people may not have a therapeutic background, but they love you and know you best. Confiding in your loved ones can provide tremendous relief. It can be beneficial to talk to people who can be straightforward with you and point out things, that your might have missed. Just make sure you are honest about what is wrong and they will give you that “second pair of eyes” that you need. I find it interesting that many times, you will share your burden with another person, only to find out that they have been through something similar.
By searching for articles, chats or online groups regarding addiction and co-addiction, you can gain a better understanding of your own behavior. One word of caution, take the information in small bites, so you do not get overwhelmed. I particularly like the .gov sites. They are straightforward and typically un-biased.
If you like reading things on paper, rather than a screen, go to the library. Educating yourself with books on co-addiction, co-dependency and addiction, can help you understand the causes of the condition. It’s easier to find a solution when you can fully understand the problem. By educating yourself you can start to put the pieces together and see the big picture.
Being around an alcoholic or addict (who refused to get help) is like breathing in second-hand smoke. After I while, it is going to bother you. It is hard to feel confident and strong when you are living with someone who does not want to get better. Sometimes space and distance can help you focus on yourself. It’s healthy to get a new perspective and realize that you can live your own life.
Get out of Denial
Many people justify an unhealthy relationship with an addict, because they truly believe that the person is going to die, without their aid. Also, it is easy to get lost in the other person’s problems and focus all of your energies on their addiction. It feels comfortable not having to look at yourself. From personal experience, any money or support I received while “using” just made me worse. I got help after my family, severed all ties and literally “hid” from me. I’m serious. I am so grateful they had the strength to practice “tough love”. They still feel bad about it, but I thank them all the time, for it was a gift.
Look at the following to test your enabling scale. Do you do any of the following?
- Failing Responsibilities. Inattention to work, parenting, friends and other responsibilities. Putting your things on the back burner every time the loved one had some drama.
- Failing Emotions. Do You find yourself becoming anxious with anger, worry, depression, and fear over the other person’s behavior? Your feelings are enmeshed in theirs.
- Self-Care. Are you neglecting your looks and hygiene. You don’t buy new clothes, put off getting a haircut and constantly eat unhealthy? This is because of all of your energy is spent on the addict/alcoholic. You find little time to shower, brush your hair, teeth, or take care of your personal appearance the way you like or the way you used to.
- Lying and Keeping Secrets. You find yourself making stories to cover up for the other person’s behavior. You lie, because it is too embarrassing to tell the truth.
- Not enjoying life. You feel unworthy. You used to play sports, read, dine, and watch movies with friends. You don’t do those things anymore, because they are not enjoyable and/or you do not have the time.
If you don’t take care of yourself, you will get mentally and physically ll. But I have found that when the pain gets bad enough, you will be motivated to find some relief. If you still don’t know where to turn ….simply contact me.