Dealing with family problems of addiction and illness


#1

In other threads I have been involved in discussions of dealing with family illness/death and addiction. So rather than tieing up other threads with our problems and solutions, I thought we could all just gather here and chat about how we deal with these problems or ask others for advice on how they think it should be handled.

I will start. My son is addicted to drugs. He is 25 and started using marijuana at age 12 by the time he was 15 he was smoking it every day and had tried other drugs. At 17 he was a full blown cocain addict. At 18 he was shooting heroin and using crack. The only reason he got a diploma from high school was they just wanted to get him out of there. He has been in treatment several times and we have spent over $40,000 trying to cure his addiction. The longest he has been clean is about 13 months. He has now been clean for 8 months, is working, has a girlfriend and is living on his own. He is by no means out of the woods but this time I think he has a real chance to make it. The only way I have made it through this is with the support of the rest of my family, friends and God. I don’t know how anyone could go through this without Faith.


#2

Lance, I empathize.
I have 2 close relatives with whom I have been through the same; though throw in a 10 year prison sentence, a career (not job - career) loss, and HIV from dirty needles.
I offer the pain to God as it is all I can do with it.
I learned a long time ago that I can not make another person act or live in the way I find acceptable. I can change no one.
Do what you can and give the rest over to God.


#3

My sobriety date is May 4, 1992. I am a recovering alcoholic who happenned to do tons of drugs. I have been a member of AA since 1990 but it took two years of trying before I could ‘get it’.

One thing you both need to understand…the alcoholic and the addict is not doing anything to you. Quite frankly, and to be brutally honest, it has nothing to do with you at all. I loved my family and have always adored my mother. I have always known and appreciated all the things she did for me, to me, with me and at me…but my mother could not stop me from drinking and using and loving my mother was not enough to keep me from doing the same.

I would urge any and all people who love people like me to make sure they join their OWN 12 step group, get their OWN sponsors and work their OWN steps…or they might end up thinking, somehow, that someone else’s alcoholism and/or drug addiction is their OWN RESPONSIBILITY.


#4

Thanks catsrus and LSK. I know that the only thing I can change is the way I react to the situation. I am now trying to be supportave but not enabling. The only person who can change him is himself. Since I started looking at it in this light things between us have improved and I really believe he is making progress. I think he may have some form of mild depression and started doing drugs to self medicate. Do either of you have any feelings on that theory? LSK, congratulations on over 13 years of sobriety. You have every right to be very proud of yourself.


#5

You might be interested in looking into materials by Fr. Emmerich Vogt at www.12-step-review.org. Our parish was recently blessed by a mission with Fr. Emmerich and I got so much out of it. Here is a summary of my notes from the mission–to give you an idea about his message. He has also done a series for EWTN.

As you know, we live in a broken, troubled world filled with broken, troubled people. By design, we all seek peace…the peace that Christ has to offer, but even the most devout Christian attempts to achieve that peace through artificial means. We do all kinds of crazy things in an effort to escape from the brokenness and trouble around us and those things often take us deeper into despair.

Christ rises from the dead and the very first thing he says is “Peace be with you.” A person who has peace…lasting peace…is a person who doesn’t give PEOPLE or things the power to bring peace. When we give people/things that kind of power, we also give them the power to take the peace away.

Fear is the chief activator of our faults, yet Scripture says 366
times ‘Do not be afraid!’. So what are we afraid of? We are afraid
of what other people think of us…how we look, how our kids look, how successful we are, how successful our kids are, how much money we have or don’t have, how many awards we’ve received, how many toys we have. We are afraid of the way other people treat us…becoming angry or sad…“How DARE they say that to me!” or “I’m a good person…sniff,sniff…why am I treated this way?”. Often, we choose to ‘amputate’…we turn our backs and walk away from such treatment, rather than acknowledging that the other person’s words/actions are painful, yes, but have no bearing on our peace. We are afraid that our loveableness depends on us…who we are, what we say and what we
do. However, I am not the source of my loveableness-God is.

So, there are three enemies we become slaves to…
1. The world - what others think, how they treat you
2. The flesh - sensual pleasures like food, sex, alcohol, drugs,
pornography…those things that ‘numb’ us from the pain of the moment
3. The Devil - the fear of dying, the fear of being unlovable…The
devil wants me to cling to my need to be liked. This keeps me
depending on the world for my security.

This enslavement causes us to do things to cover our shame. We may become perfectionists, peacemakers, attention seekers, control addicts, sufferers, or pleasers/enablers. As this list was being explained, I found myself saying, “Yep, that’s me.” Then he would go on to the next one and I’d think, “Hmm…here I am again.” I’ve found that I possess many of the traits of all of these types of people, but over the years some of the sharp edges have been worn off a little. I still struggle with being an attention seeker (that what keeps me teaching…to get my ‘fix’ of people who think I’m wonderful), control addict (the examples are too numerous to list!), sufferer (I always have too much
on my plate, but continue to pile things on. This, so I can say “Poor me! Look at all I have to do!”) and lastly, the pleaser/enabler (I create my own frustration because I’ve taught my kids to be dependent on me, rather than helping to form them into independent young people who love me. I’m confusing being needed with being loved.)

What is to be done then? How do we break away from these things that keep us bound in misery and seeking relief?

…continued


#6

Continued from previous post…

First, we must overcome our shame…our feelings that we are inferior or unlovable. To do this we have to understand what love is and what it isn’t. It isn’t a “kissy, kissy, coochy, coochy” feeling, although true love is certainly accompanied by feelings, both pleasant and unpleasant. Love IS an act of the will, a decision to love even when it doesn’t feel particularly good. When we can come to this understanding, we can realize that WE are loved in our ‘ugliness’ too…not just when we look good, or make a lot of money, or drive the right car, or know the right people. People used to give Mother Teresa a hard time about the people she ministered to…“How can you do these things? Look at these people! They are trash. They smell. They are the cause of their own misery.” And she would say, “I’m loving Jesus in his distressing disguise.”

Where fear is the chief activator of our faults, love is the chief
healer of human wounds. Pope Benedict says, “The vocation of love is what makes the person an authentic image of God.” So, we need to practice love for one another and that means that we have to open our eyes to the ways we are unloving. Am I so arrogant to believe that MY way is the only right way? Do I think that in order for God’s will to be done, things have to be ‘right’ by MY standards?

Second, we need to detach our selves from all that we hold worthwhile. If we don’t do this, we will continue to be a slave to fear; fear of doing something or saying something that will steal our peace. In order to detach from these things, I need to let go of the pleasure I get from my sinful, nasty behavior. My response, when I am tempted to fall into old patterns must be reasonable, responsible and loving and then I must leave the rest to God. We often think that other people must change in order for us to be happy, but usually, WE are the ones who need to change.

Lastly, we need to really cultivate the virtue of humility in
ourselves. The other day I read this, “There is a close relation
between physical littleness, which is childhood, and mental
littleness, which is humililty. We can not always be children, which is another way of saying we can be humble.” My pride is fierce…so I’m always working on this virtue, which often seems to elude me!

Hope this is helpful!

In Christ,
Kathy :slight_smile:


#7

I think he may have some form of mild depression and started doing drugs to self medicate. Do either of you have any feelings on that theory?

It’s possible.
One of mine has been diagnosed with severe bi-polar disorder but, to be truthful, I’m sure he wasn’t bi-polar when he began the downhill slide to intensive drug use. He was only 13 when that began and he is 37 now.
I have to give him credit where credit is due. He has never blamed anyone but himself and has gone out of his way to be sure that the entire family understands that.


#8

KathyA, Very good post. Thank you for sharing with us.


#9

Kathy A - FABULOUS post…thank you! One of the things that is very important to understand, however, is that there is a physical component to the disease of alcoholism. If you do not understand that, you may tend to think that the only thing a person has to do is ‘get right with God’ and that will solve the problem…and that eventually they may be able to drink again.

Mother Theresa was fascinated by AA…because no matter how much she tried she was never able to really help alcoholics. She became very good friends with a long-time member of AA and once remarked to this woman that we AA members have a ‘covenant with God’ in terms of how we approach our treatment of the disease of alcoholism. This woman was later asked by the Vatican to testify at the hearings on Mother’s beatification.

I have heard it said that there is a component of depression involved in alcoholism. I have no doubt that that is true. I know, however, that many of us do not suffer from manic depression, bi-polar disorder or other depression-related disorders. Many of us do. The most important thing we have in common, however, is that we have an abnormal reaction to alcohol…and we cannot get sober on our own.

AA is not the only way for an alcoholic to get and stay sober. Many do and have recovered without AA…Matt Talbot is a very good example of a man who got sober before there was an AA, through devotion to the Eucharist and service to other alcoholics he found his way to sobriety.

I know that AA is NOT the answer for everyone, and not everyone who comes INTO AA is an alcoholic as described in our book Alcoholics Anonymous. Some people are simply hard drinkers, some are heavy drinkers. If you are like me, however, you will never be able to quit alcohol and drugs by yourself.

The toughest part of this battle, however, is knowing that we are causing those we love incredible pain and anguish and vowing over and over again to do better…and then, not being able to stand being sober any longer so that we cannot, no matter how much we try, bring to mind the memory of all the pain and anguish we once caused. And so it starts all over again.

That’s why it is so important that people understand - we are not doing anything TO YOU…and we are as baffled by our behavior as you are…


#10

Leslie,
Of course you are right. We can’t simply reduce alcoholism to ‘getting right with God’ and everything will be fine. Since I’m not the one with the chemical dependency (my parents are both alcoholics and so I was mainly writing from my perspective as a person who grew up in a disordered family), it’s often easy for me to armchair quarterback or to think that they are deliberately out to make my life miserable. As I’ve wrestled with my own sinfulness in other areas though, I have come to realize the power of habit/sin…and that’s without any chemicals being involved! That has made me a little more compassionate (at times) in dealing with them.
At any rate, I appreciate your comments and insight!

In Christ,
Kathy


#11

[quote=KathyA]Leslie,
Of course you are right. We can’t simply reduce alcoholism to ‘getting right with God’ and everything will be fine. Since I’m not the one with the chemical dependency (my parents are both alcoholics and so I was mainly writing from my perspective as a person who grew up in a disordered family), it’s often easy for me to armchair quarterback or to think that they are deliberately out to make my life miserable. As I’ve wrestled with my own sinfulness in other areas though, I have come to realize the power of habit/sin…and that’s without any chemicals being involved! That has made me a little more compassionate (at times) in dealing with them.
At any rate, I appreciate your comments and insight!

In Christ,
Kathy
[/quote]

No problem. I commend you (and I go "wow- both parents? and you are still standing? Nothing is impossible with God). AND I always want people to understand that the physical part of alcoholism. People who love me (now) but did not know me (then) think they are being reasonable when they say things like, “Oh I’ll bet you’re not an alcoholic anymore…”. Then, of course, they wonder why my mother gets white as a sheet and my brother throws himself bodily in front of anything containing alcohol in it and yells, “BELIEVE HER! BELIEVE HER, I TELL YOU!!!”.

Just kidding…:whacky:


#12

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Our Christmas went well. Our daughter and her family were in from Boston, our daughter who lives about 5 miles from us and her family were with us as was my son. Things were looking very good, then on 12/31 at 3:00 a.m. my son was taken to the hospital with and overdose of heroin. They were able to save him and both he and his girlfriend are in jail now. He has threatened to kill himself and is on a suicide watch. They were supposed to leave with her family on 1/1 to go skiing in Utah, he had just got a promotion and raise at work and had a tooth fixed that had been broken back in July when he got into a fight with a cop who was arresting his girlfriend. He just can’t take success. When things finally look like they are going to turn around for him he starts using again. I think he really screwed up this time because he still had an assault on a police officer charge pending. They were kind of waiting to see if he straightened out and if he had they would have dropped the charge but now he is looking a probably a year or more in prison. I think that is what he needs. I refuse to bail him out. I told him that I love him but hate what he is and does. We pray for him every day but his addiction is having an effect on our family and our faith. Please keep all of us in your prayers. Thank you.


#13

originally posted by Lance
He just can’t take success.

One of my relatives, who was a meth addict for 12 years, told me the same thing. He’s fine when he’s struggelng but when everything is sunny and the future is bright, he falls. It’s some sort of self sabatoge. I don’t understand it at all and have stopped trying.
One thing’s for sure, your son won’t be using in jail and some prison systems have intensive drug programs, so there’s hope there.
I can completely empathize.
You are in my prayers.


#14

Lance, what a heart-breaking way to begin the new year. I’m so sorry. I can only hope that the confinement of prison will give your son the structure he needs to get his life together. God bless your family.


#15

Lance, I am so sorry.

In the Big Book of AA we speak to our insanity and how it manifests…and one of the ways it manifests is that we have a positive GENIUS for getting loaded or drunk at the most inopportune times…usually when doing so will just bring down all the good we have built up over the past 3 or 4 months on our heads.

And don’t let that “fear of success” stuff fool you…we don’t fear success…we fear the RESPONSIBILITY that comes with the success…if all we had to do was deal with the SUCCESS then we would be fine…but think about it people! What do all of you have to do every day to be a successful, functional person? A lot of humdrum, every day, go for it, do it anyway, kind of stuff - right? You have to suit up and show up no matter WHAT…and that can just be so darn BORING. I mean, here I have been sober since May 4, 1992 and no one wants to throw me a parade for showing up for work every single day…how dare you…and you expect ME to do that? Selfish, self-centered, little ol’ alcoholic, addicted ME? Where’s the drama, the excitement?

Imagine my chagrin when I found out that successful people have a foundation of suiting up and showing up for the ‘daily grind’ - and they do it without expecting a medal…they do it for a paycheck and if they want to achieve more they WORK HARDER or come up with something INNOVATIVE and work their buns off to implement THAT so they can make tons of money…and be successful.

Lance, I will continue to pray for your son. I am so glad he isn’t dead because there is always a chance he can recover and do what I do every day - “pass for normal out here” (lolololol).


#16

Thanks guys. It is a big help just to be able to chat with people, even if it is thruough the internet, about it. As I said, I have come to realize that I have no control over him or anyone else for that matter. I can only control myself and how I react to situations. In this case I choose to leave him in jail, tell him I love him and only want what is good for him and that I will pray for him. I will probably go see him this weekend, my wife does not want to go. She says she could not stand to see her son in jail. I understand how she feels but I think I need to go.

I never thought about the ‘fear of responsibility’. I think you are on to something there. He has never in his whole life accepted responsibility for anything. When things go wrong for him he always has an excuse or someone to blame.

I pray for him every day as I do for those of you with addictions and friends or relatives who are addicts.


#17

Leslie:

Fear of responsibility, of admitting that you are wrong or made a mistake…Thanks for the insight.

Lance, your family is in my prayers. Thank you for visiting your son. He needs to know that you love him. That will help him understand that God loves him as well.


#18

You are welcome…and I need to let you all know that admitting that my fear of success was really fear of being a responsible grown up was the toughest part of recovery for me…that and having to make coffee for 6:00am meetings on Saturday mornings…:crying:


#19

[quote=LSK]My sobriety date is May 4, 1992. I am a recovering alcoholic who happenned to do tons of drugs. I have been a member of AA since 1990 but it took two years of trying before I could ‘get it’.

One thing you both need to understand…the alcoholic and the addict is not doing anything to you. Quite frankly, and to be brutally honest, it has nothing to do with you at all. I loved my family and have always adored my mother. I have always known and appreciated all the things she did for me, to me, with me and at me…but my mother could not stop me from drinking and using and loving my mother was not enough to keep me from doing the same.

I would urge any and all people who love people like me to make sure they join their OWN 12 step group, get their OWN sponsors and work their OWN steps…or they might end up thinking, somehow, that someone else’s alcoholism and/or drug addiction is their OWN RESPONSIBILITY.
[/quote]

-I will never forget my first alanon meeting…this lady stood up (I had never seen before) and she said to me, “I always thought that my husband drank because I wasn’t pretty enough, but since I see you, I know that it isn’t true” My mother in law was with me…I had goose bumps all over my body…I didn’t know whether to smile or cry…It made me feel really bad… :eek:


#20

[quote=Lance]. My son is addicted to drugs. He is 25 and started using marijuana at age 12 by the time he was 15 he was smoking it every day and had tried other drugs. At 17 he was a full blown cocain addict. At 18 he was shooting heroin and using crack…
[/quote]

Were you living in the same home as he was? Were you aware of his drug experimentation/use? Were there signs you now recognize looking back that could have allowed you to intervene earlier? I ask not to point fingers but because I have kids approaching their teen years and presume I would recognize if they were using drugs daily…maybe I’m fooling myself.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.