When is enough, enough? Recently I have been talking to an old friend and she confided in me that her husband is an alcoholic. She also shared with me that because of his addiction to alcohol that their relationship became so damaged that unfortunately the marriage ended in divorce. So again let me put forth this profound and rhetorical question. When is enough, enough? As family or friends when is enough, enough with dealing with lies, cheating and alcohol/drug behavior? How many times does family or friends have to deal with the anxiety of wandering if they will ever get that most dreaded of calls that something terrible has happened to our friend or loved one? At what point do we sever our relationships with behavior that not only is destructive to our loved one but also destructive to us as family and friends? I have experience of being on both sides of this issue in my lifetime. I have put my family thru terrible times over the years with addictive behavior as well as having someone I cared for deeply, struggling with the disease of addiction. So at times in my life I have had to deal with my own emotions of anxiety, depression and fear of not knowing if the person I cared for was in harm’s way because of their addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Another unanswered rhetorical question is as family or friends what is our role in helping or not helping our loved one. Do we wait for the proverbial “hit rock bottom” to happen before we attempt any help? Do we intervene before this happens and spare our loved one all the consequences of hitting rock bottom? One thing I have learned about the enmeshed family dynamics of dealing with a family member suffering with a drug or alcohol addiction. Family members must take care of themselves. No parent wants to see a child suffer with such an insidious devastating disease. The disease of addiction is so powerful, cunning and baffling and so is the question of when or when not to help your loved one suffering from the disease of addiction.
I will end this commentary with relying on my own experience of dealing with a drug addiction. What is so baffling about treating the disease of addiction, one never knows when the addict finally gets it! But if you do decide that you want to be there for your loved one and provide support and care in an appropriate way here are several things that might help guide you in the right direction.
- Do research on the disease of addiction so that you have a more fundamental understanding of the disease.
- Research treatment options so that you can be prepared to make informed decisions as to the type of help that might be appropriate for your loved one.
- Understand that even though there are many common threads to all addictions there can be many differentials that must be assessed and treated from individual to individual.
Choose a treatment program that has the resources and structure to treat each individual with those components that will give the best opportunity for a long term healthy, sober outcome.
I cannot be overstated. The importance should not be minimized. A day of thanks is surely not enough. But nonetheless this is what we have and it should not pass without giving those we share our lives with at least a simple thanks. Starting with those closest to us we must be thankful for what they give to us everyday by enhancing the quality of our lives. Large or small, the group of special people that we hold closest to us are in reality the bulk of the world we live in. The world gets very small when we count those that we care the most about and vice versa and it is this small sphere which accounts for the most joy and occasionally the most pain in our lives. But joy or pain this is what we call living and with them we simply would be alive but not living.
Beyond those who are closest to us there are those that we touch on a day to day basis and those who touch us. We cannot forget them. The check out girl at Publix, the cashier at Starbucks, the waiter at our favorite restaurant. These are the people who accent our life and the people who make our day with just a little smile. Even, or sometimes especially, if they are a stranger.
Now the trick is to not just be thankful on one day of the year but to find a way to be thankful on a daily basis. It is the concept of not wasting a day. Don’t waste it by letting it get away without doing something to appreciate the world we live in and the people who share it with us. Have dinner with your family. Talk to your kids about school. Laugh.