Help my loved one is addicted
Addiction problems revolve around the addict in question. Logically. But what about those close to you? Partners, children, parents, friends and colleagues who worry, suffer the consequences and save what can be saved. They also deserve care and attention. At 'Help my loved one is addicted' they help the loved one(s) of an addict. José Kortekaas is a coach of relatives. We spoke to her recently and asked her 7 pressing questions.
|Help my loved one is addicted…
…is also known as the Besides Foundation. This foundation has been committed to helping relatives of addicts since 2005. On the one hand, this commitment consists of supporting the target group itself. On the other hand, connecting the government, addiction care and other initiatives to ensure that relatives of addicts are given a permanent place within mental health care.
Why do you, as a loved one, often initially not realize that a loved one is struggling with an alcohol addiction?
“An alcohol addiction develops step by step. You drink for fun, you drink to forget your worries or you drink to relax, for example. The moments that you drink are becoming more frequent. At some point you reach the dependency stage. Until you need more and more of the same to (not) feel what you want to feel. As a neighbor you grow with this development. Slowly you are drawn into the patterns of the addict.”
“In the beginning you really don't see the (excessive) alcohol use as an addiction. Then there is a feeling of unease, then you may not want to see it either. Afraid of the annoying conversations and the tension that it entails. Ultimately, as a loved one, you are also stuck in a pattern of working hard to avoid stress and pain.”
Many family members feel guilty afterwards about not seeing an alcohol problem. Is this guilt justified?
“Let me be clear about that: it is never your fault as a neighbor. Forgive yourself immediately. You're awake now and apparently you weren't ready before. The addict has an obligation to himself and to the environment to deal with his problems differently. Because there are often other problems behind the addiction. Such as loss or trauma. Also called life pain. We all experience things. Just because it's up to the addict to do something about it, doesn't mean you shouldn't have compassion for him or her. That's right. Because an addiction is a disease. No one chooses to become addicted.”
What are the first steps you can take when there is a loved one
with an alcohol problem?
“Step 1 is acquiring knowledge. How does an addiction 'work'? What part have you played as a relative within the addiction? By that we mean: did you buy beer that was on sale, so that alcohol consumption that week did not weigh too heavily on the shopping budget? Did you cancel parties because you were afraid of your loved one's behavior? Did you wake your loved one on time every day so that he or she wouldn't be late for work? You probably unconsciously perpetuated your loved one's addiction.”
“Step 2 is learning to communicate with an addict. Going on the attack is not the way. Talk to your loved one when he or she is sober. Talk about the benefits of drinking and the drawbacks. Talk in I messages. Speak up and set your boundaries. And don't be judgmental, no matter how difficult it may be.
What are the pitfalls of a loved one?
“Unconsciously you take on more and more responsibility. That is because you are loyal to your loved one. Shame also plays a major role. A loved one will do everything they can, especially in the beginning, not to break. To make the outside world believe that nothing is wrong. It's a survival technique."
How do you make sure that you as a loved one don't go under?
“Take back control of your own life. Do meet up with others, invest time in your hobby, do something every day that makes you happy. And important: set limits and live up to them. It is better to indicate a small limit that you can achieve, than a large limit that you cannot achieve. An example: shouting that you want to break up if he or she drinks one more time and then don't do so, keeps the addiction going. It could even get worse, because nothing happens anyway. What you can say is, "If you get drunk tonight, I'll sleep in the spare room." Then really do this. In addition, confide in someone with whom you can vent and who you can ask for help.”
How do you stay connected with your loved one?
“That is indeed a challenge. Because you still love the person behind the addiction. But just like the plane and the oxygen mask, you'll have to reconnect with yourself before you can connect with anyone else. Invest in yourself by doing things you enjoy, by talking to someone, and by setting boundaries.”
Do you recognize yourself as a neighbor in the above? on helpmijndierbareisaddict.nl you can read more about the workshops and individual coaching that Stichting Next offers. You can also be called for a free consultation. then fill in this registration form in.