The hardest part for families and loved ones (outside of seeing the person they know and love turn into someone that they no longer know) is approaching the addict/alcoholic about treatment/help.
I want to start off by saying this… you may or may not agree with me, and that’s fine you don’t have to or need to but… when I hear… “I just don’t understand how your kids aren’t enough for you to stop doing what you’re doing?” “Do you not love your kids enough?” “Do you not care how you are hurting your kids?” First of all…. anyone that has kids know that they are our hearts and souls walking around in the world outside of our bodies.. that’s the best way I know how to describe a Mother’s LOVE! So.. with that being said.. there would be no alcoholics or drug addicts in the world today if our kids were enough. They are enough! But this disease is stronger and more deadly than any feeling we have inside of us or that we are able to feel. So.. keep an open mind the next time you ask someone that or say someone is a terrible parent for having an addiction.. this disease is a beast that most struggle their whole entire lives to beat.. and not everyone beats it.
Of course I love my kids, of course I never want to see them hurt, of course I have to live every single second of every single day with the guilt of what my disease did to them, not what I chose to do to them. Thank You God above I am able to show them that their mom is back and strong and living a good life after that beast took me from them. I wish it would have been as easy as looking at my child. PERIOD!
As far as interventions go or stepping in as a family, everyone is different and every technique is different so I can only give my experience as the alcoholic and as the one that helps intervene with families through my job in recovery. I had several so called “interventions” my family would get together and talk, one of them would take on the roll to confront me, the others waiting by the phone to see how I reacted, etc. etc. These interventions were small at first and I mean small as, go to a detox for a few days, go to the psych floor of ben taub for a few days and sober up. They would usually just substitute my alcohol for some medication that made me escape or cuss people out. Not much diff from drinking. The worse I got the bigger the interventions got and the more things were thrown at me to try to convince me I needed help. One particular time, before I agreed to come to Kentucky for treatment, my brother typed me a letter… I still have it and I read it from time to time to remind me now of the pain this disease put my family and me through. In this letter.. he brought up my kids of course and how Sheldon was going to need me on her wedding day one day and how devastating it would be for her if I were not there.. He added that the boys would suffer because I was such a solid person in their lives from a very early age… he added that he is a fireman/policeman and had been for over 20 years and the things he sees daily are unimaginable.. he noted a father crying for his child that was burning in a vehicle and the dad couldn’t get to him, he said he will never get that voice out of his head… that he has seen it all but NOTHING was as hard as what he was witnessing with me.. me killing myself right in front of him. This disease killing me. He ended the letter with…. I am going to be the one to find you dead, not Sheldon, not the boys, not Mom but ME… none of them can bare to even check on you because they won’t find you dead.. it will be me. As excruciating as this letter was… it didn’t stop me and my disease. So as you can see, everyone is different but you will need help, most families can’t do this effectively on their own if they haven’t experienced it before. It’s difficult. My family had to get online and do classes and reach out for help and all kinds of things to be able to cut me off emotionally/financially/physically.. all of it! Even with the thought of me dying. They were helping me kill myself by enabling, they helped save my life by cutting me from their lives. This is never easy.
This is one of the reasons I wanted to start this blog is to help families and loved ones and give them an option to reach out when they are at their wits end and a dead end on trying to help their loved one. First and foremost, make sure you reach out.. to me, get online, I have resources and guidance and can help guide with certain situations and If I can’t, I can find someone who can. My experience in working in recovery is I try to get a general backstory on someone, and just let the families vent, talk, cry, whatever is needed. If the loved one is willing to speak to me or any of us for that matter, that’s even better. But… us alcoholics/addicts are not always willing so we take each person and do what we can. I guess what I’m hoping to get out of this blog today and to let you know is that.. it seems logical to throw certain things out there to the one struggling… kids, jobs, family, life, etc. but just know our disease is stronger than any of that.. don’t get discouraged if those tactics don’t work.. they usually don’t.. not until later on, those things keep an alcoholic/addict in recovery striving to keep pushing but it doesn’t usually give them that initial push to get help… the true tough love, hitting rock bottom’s basement and everything below hopefully will and that is the most difficult thing for families.
A little inside story on my family…
Every single detox or short term psych ward or treatment that I went to.. and there were quite a few.. my mom, my daughter and BJ visited me at every single one.. even if i were only there for 4 or 5 days. THIS IS NOT SUGGESTED! It’s all they knew to do! Bless them!
The first time I came to Kentucky for treatment.. my mom and BJ flew with me here, drove me to treatment (BJ drove, my mom coached from the backseat, repeating every single thing the GPS said out loud) (BJ spoke of moonshiners in Kentucky that he had read about and wanted to find a map of the woods where they made this illegal moonshine and visit them after they dropped me at treatment of course, I mean I have the problem not him 🙂 Once we finally arrived at the treatment facility, they both came in with me to check in, we were in the office with the lady checking us in and my mom noticed my name written on this big whiteboard.. in her overly excited voice she said “look Sheila, there’s your name'” loud and proud like she was dropping me off at College or I was winning some kind of award or something. The lady in the office said.. I understand your excitement that she’s getting help but let’s wait for the praise when she finishes this program, the hard part hasn’t begun. If those weren’t the truest words my ears have ever heard!!
The second and final time I came to Kentucky for treatment… 3 months after I left the first time, they dropped me off at the airport and sent me on my way.. that wasn’t a great idea either.. this story is in a previous blog.
Don’t get discouraged when trying to help someone in my position, had my family got discouraged, I’d be dead. You just need to reach out… don’t be embarrassed or think you will be judged, I mean.. you may by some people but not by any that count or matter in your life. This is a disease, this is not how you raised your child, or lack of parenting or lack of love for any family member or anything YOU did .. this is a disease and I can’t say it enough.. this disease does not discriminate .. not in the slightest. I have met attorneys, wealthy business people, college kids, high school kids, moms, dads, sisters, brothers, poor people, picked people up from gas stations right on to picking someone up from their million dollar homes for treatment. There is hope, there is help and there is life after alcoholism/addiction. I am living proof. I still have bad days, I still struggle, I still get mad that this happen to me.. but I know how to deal with my emotions, bad days, struggles and I have a life that I never thought I would again.. and I have my family and the guidance that they reached out to get to help me.. they were lost and desperate.
You can not save your loved one, you can help but the help is critical and you’re going to need outside support. I’m forever grateful that my family took the initiative to reach out and I am forever grateful for the ones that answered when they called and the ones that kept pushing me and guiding my family on how to let me go and fight this disease head on.
Another quick funny family story… my first go round at the Ranch here in Kentucky, I had made it to 30 days sober… 1 month.. doing great big things!!! My family still seeking guidance and not grasping the whole concept of “letting me be” yet.. we’re so excited that I had made that one month mark that they sent me flowers to the treatment facility.. I totally cringe at this gesture now because I know how 30 days is huge to everyone else and yourself for the first time achieving it in this journey but its merely a grain of sand on the beaches of the entire gulf of Mexico compared to the battle ahead. Needless to say, the treatment facility frowned upon it and I never received flowers again.. AND.. they scolded Sally on her monthly “care packages” that she would send and I didn’t see another one of those until I graduated treatment and got my own place. She was however allowed to send things to the whole house.. but not just to me. Each time I spoke to my family, they had changed more and more into the family I needed to keep me on track, they took the guidance … THANK GOD!~