No one wakes up one day and declares “I want to be addicted to drugs.” That said, many family members and friends do not realize that their loved one is struggling with addiction even as it sucks the life out of them.
Likewise, no family member or friend of someone who is addicted wakes up one day and declares “I want to enable the progression of addiction in my loved one.”
The disease of addiction “takes prisoners”; namely, the family members and friends of the person suffering from the disease. This is why addiction is often referred to as a “family disease.” Admittedly, many of us note that our loved one drinks a bit too much on occasion and exhibits some risky behaviors. We also recognize that our loved one is becoming unreliable, forgetting appointments, appearing unkempt, and blacking out after drinking. Yet, despite all of the red flags, we turn a blind eye on the progression of addiction.
Despite the progression of addiction in our loved one, we find all sorts of rationalizations for their inexcusable behaviors. As time goes by, we justify and cover-up for them. Our fears turn to anger and morph into resentment, but we continue to justify our actions and sacrifices. We are unaware that we are literally loving them to death.
As the consequences of drug abuse or alcoholism ramp up (auto accidents, debt, job loss, DUI, jail time, tremors, etc.), harboring and enabling the addicted person overwhelms family members and friends. Watching and waiting for our loved one to hit bottom is trumped by our own feelings of helplessness and growing depression over our failed efforts to save them.
If we are fortunate enough to hear about Al-Anon and willing to seek help, instead of trying to control the progression of addiction, the best choice we can make for ourselves is to detach from the situation and work on our own recovery. Al-Anon is a program that offers support to anyone who has a friend or relative suffering from addiction. Al-Anon is a fellowship that uses the 12 Steps, literature, and meetings to help those who have been impacted by this insidious disease. As we work the 12 steps and embrace the wisdom, experience, strength and hope of others, many of us find that we can live a happy and meaningful life, whether or not our loved ones are drinking or using drugs. Al-Anon helps us understand that we did not cause the disease, we cannot control the disease, nor can we cure the disease.
At the very least, by understanding the disease and the unfortunate progression of addiction, Al-Anon helps us refrain from contributing to it.