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Can You Help An Addict's Enabler To Stop

19 August 2016 Written by 

Addiction professionals talk about how difficult it is for a family to heal when some members try to get an enabler to admit their denial about their enabling. Say it's a mom who keeps giving money to a using son or daughter, or a husband who won't stop getting drunk and being fired. Say she calls his work to make excuses when he can't come in. That's enabling. Addiction professions say those who understand what the enabler is doing may be quick to demand that the enabler go to Al-Anon, but fail to see that they need Al-Anon too. Or a therapist who can help them sort out the issues. The truth is the whole family is engaged with the problem, whether they know it or not, and everyone needs to find solution. Solution is not just "knowing the truth." It's everyone working on the problem instead of blaming each other for what's going wrong.

The Best Way For The Family To Begin To Heal Is To Admit Being Powerless Over The Addict And The Enabler.

I know in our family there were two co-dependents who wanted me to do something about my drinking husband. My older sons, Max and Mitch,  were determined to get me to:  open my eyes, see the light, wake up and smell the coffee etc… concerning their father’s drinking. They eventually went so far as to say they wouldn’t speak to me until I accepted their perception of reality as the only truth. They did not attend my college graduation,  come for Christmas, or call when I had surgery. Not only did it hurt me, but it hurt their father as well. And it hurt the family.

My Sons Saw Me In A Fog But Didn't Understand The Disease Themselves

My sons were completely unaware of how the disease of alcoholism was affecting them because they were too focused on how unaware I was of how the disease was affecting me.  Alcoholism is baffling, cunning, and powerful. Addiction keeps everyone alienated and busy trying to fix everyone else. By dividing the family, addiction keeps everyone sick.  I could have tried to convince my sons of my point of view, but I after I started my recovery program,  I learned it was best if I stayed in my yard. I let my sons believe what they wanted, whether it was true or not. I would send them a note from time to time, but otherwise I minded my own business and kept working on me.

I Lived In Denial For A Long Time

My sons were right. Yes, I definitely had lived in denial for many years, but my children didn’t bring me out of denial. (Read my blog, “The Day You Finally Admit the Problem is Alcoholism.”  A simple smile brought me out of my denial. In fact, my older sons were the ones in denial to the pain and heartbreak their silence to me was causing everyone, including their younger brother and sisters. Denial is something everyone has to learn about in their own way.

My Sons Finally Began To Listen

Eventually, my older boys grew tired of being isolated from the rest of family and began to listen instead of only talk. They still wanted to control the situation, because it was so crazy, but at least they were communicating now instead of shutting down.

Each member of my family has been affected by this disease. It is up to them how they will recover. Max went to Al-Anon for a while, and Mitch has never been. They are on their own journeys while I am on my own. 

How Does Addiction In The Family End

My story does not have a happily ever after ending, because in addiction that is not how most stories end. My husband perished from the disease, and all of us in the family are still working on dealing with the damage and the loss of someone we loved and cherished. What we have learned is that we cannot control each other and should not try. That is a step. Everybody has to move toward recovery at his or her own speed. Nagging and blaming only makes the pain of a sad situation worse. And the harder we work on ourselves the better the outcome is likely to be.

A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By: Madeline Schloop

Read 6040 times Last modified on Thursday, 30 March 2017 13:14
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Madeline Schloop

Madeline is the widow of a man who died of alcoholism and the mother of 5 young adults whom she parents with the tools of Al-Anon. Her children continue to be affected by the disease of alcoholism. Her stories  deal with life's daily trials and what has and hasn't worked.
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