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Old 08-01-2008, 08:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Does "Tough Love" Really Work?

I have been reading this forum a lot lately and feel a need to share. First off, many feel that there love ones are "safe" in jail. It is not always a safe place to be locked up in many jails/prisons. Violence is a every day possibility. There are frequently no alcohol/drug programs offered in jail.
A question I have for you guys though is what if your loved one suffers from mental illness as well as addiction? Is the "tough love" approach a good idea then? Addiction is not a choice and mental illness is not a choice either. Being homeless or locked up in jail with a mental illness makes a person much more likely to suffer from violence. Just something to think about I guess.

tib
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Old 08-01-2008, 08:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I guess my question is just what you think someone should do with an A who, as a result of their choices, ends up homeless? Or in jail? What if someone with an addiction (or mental illness) refuses treatment?

I also think that unlike mental illness, addiciton does have an element of choice. One can choose to fight that addiction and get sober. In fact, someone suffering from many mental illnesses can choose to seek treatment.

My xAF is facing homelessness next week. It saddens me greatly that this is happening. But it is his choice. He could choose to instead deal with his problems, find a job, etc. But he chooses not to do so. There is nothing I can do to change that.
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Old 08-01-2008, 10:03 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Being homeless or locked up in jail with a mental illness makes a person much more likely to suffer from violence. Just something to think about I guess.
Okay, I thought about it. So what are the other options? To rescue a grown adult from their own consequences? And what is the cost of that option? To continue to prove to them that they can keep on doing what they're doing and someone will be there to rescue them?

Sometimes the choices we have in response to another's behavior are not pleasant. Sometimes I hate the choices I have to choose from. But, reality dictates that I make a choice rather than live in an ideal fantasy world where tough choices don't have to be made.

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Old 08-01-2008, 10:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Is the "tough love" approach a good idea then?
I'm somewhere in the middle. I watched my dad keep my stepmother sober for 20 years. Now that he is gone she constantly fights for sobriety. She's come close to losing her life a few times in the last couple of years, but when he was alive? She was always sober. It was definitely controlling and co-dependent but it worked.

My daughter is a recovering addict and I finally stopped trying to control her a few months ago. I don't practice tough love with her, I practice it with myself. Everything I do now is based on what will work for me, what I can live with.

My mother is a substance abuse case manager at a homeless shelter. Almost all of her clients have dual diagnosis and been in and out of prison. She always says it keeps them alive but many of them come out worse than when they went in. Something might have been treatable before but not any longer. She told me it keeps society safer but not the inmate with severe mental illness.

Having seen a few different sides to the equation, I am in the middle somewhere. If it's my daughter I'm going to try and find a solution that causes the least amount of harm to her, myself, and society, if such a solution exists and I have a choice.
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Old 08-02-2008, 03:07 AM   #5 (permalink)
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what if your loved one suffers from mental illness as well as addiction?
Dual diagnosis is not uncommon. You could drive yourself crazy trying to figure out which came first or what caused the other. What seems to be the consensus in the medical community is the addiction needs to be treated first.

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Addiction is not a choice
Uh... I dunno if I agree with addiction is not a choice, depends on what you mean exactly. An addict absolutely has a choice to continue or seek help. I have known alcoholics that can not stop at one drink, and that's the addiction taking control. But they choose to take that first drink. An addict can always choose to seek recovery instead.
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Old 08-02-2008, 08:55 AM   #6 (permalink)
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OK first off, if someone is seriously mentally ill and has been diagnosed as such, there are still programs and places available to help them. If they are sane enough to legally have the right to choose whether or not they take advantage of those things, then, as far as I can tell, when it comes to taking care of myself insofar as they are concerned, there is not really any practical difference between how I am going to relate to them and how I am going to relate to anyone else who chooses to engage in self-destructive, dangerous behavior.

So, as far as the "tough love" question goes:

You know I think it depends an awful lot on what you mean by "really work" and/or "a good approach." If you mean, is it somehow guaranteed to "make someone engaged in dangerous behavior see the light," then "No -- it's not a good approach and it doesn't really work."

If you mean, "Does it constitute my best chance for getting them to see the light," then, really, you're still focused on them and what you think they should be doing and on how you might get some control over them and be their savior, and it's probably not the best approach because you're not in a place where you can really practice it and it probably won't "really work" because you are going to be judging it's effectivenss by how it impacts the other person's life rather than by how it impacts yours.

In my mind, tough love is "tough" because it's tough on me, not because it's tough on the other. (Addiction/mental illness is what's tough on the A...."tough love" has got to be friggin' joy-ride in comparison!)...Tough love is tough on me because it means letting go and letting the other receive the consequences that s/he has rightly earned through her/his own actions and choices. It means recognizing that s/he is an adult with the right to make her/his own choices and with the right to have me respect that and not interfere or try to change or control. It means me valuing myself enough to do the work I need to do to know who I am and what I need and me becoming strong enough to take the steps I need to take to make sure that all of that is not compromised by any other person's sick choices. In short, it means my learning to do and be all of the things that -- especially as a woman in a patriarchal, highly Christian society -- I have been taught (mostly for the benefit of power addicts) I am not supposed to do.

Obviously, you are very right about jail being a dangerous and violent place -- but, seriously, addiction is a dangerous and violent place and, if left untreated, it is going to lead to dangerous and violent ends -- maybe not in jail, but dangerous and violent nonetheless. Even if an addict dies totally wasted in his/her own bed, is that not a dangerous and violent death caused by his/her own addiction???? I guess maybe I'm not really seeing what exactly it is you think you might be protecting them from with enabling "love" as opposed to tough love.....(and, yes, I put the scare quotes around enabling "love" because I really do have some doubts as to how true -- "true" as in other-directed as opposed to self-centered -- of a love it actually is).

...and actually, now that I've written that, I think I need to ask if maybe the person you're really thinking about protecting is yourself.....protecting yourself from fully realizing and accepting the harsh and very ugly realities of any increasingly self-destructive behavior and where it takes people who do not take care of themselves. You don't want to see your A in jail -- you don't want to have your A suffer whatever might await him/her there....so you think maybe it's a better idea to protect both of you from that happening -- him/her from experiencing the direct pain of the consequences and yourself from experiencing the pain of having to share/feel/live his/her pain....again...and again.....and again.....and again....But, for me, the biggest problem with that kind of protection was that it only deepened and prolonged the misery of everyone involved. And I did have the power, at any time, to disengage from my part of that misery and have a better life....and tough love (or, if it makes it sound better, you can say "detachment") let me do that.

Now, I do need to be very clear here, obviously there is a lot of sadness and grief involved with knowing that a loved one is suffering, maybe even especially when you know that that suffering could be prevented by some very clear and simple (that is not to say "easy") different choices......but for those of us who love A's, we are the ones who choose to turn that sadness and grief into a never-ending tortuous misery by remaining actively engaged and emeshed.

Basically, tough love is one of the tools that saved me from the consequences of addiction -- because, make no mistake about it, if you choose to stay emeshed with and enabling of an A you are not only not going to succeed in saving them from the consequences of their own behavior, but you are pretty much going to guarantee that you share those consequences in perhaps different but equally unpleasant ways.

So, in terms of freeing yourself and fulfilling yourself and your having a much better, more peaceful and serene life, in my personal experience, "tough love" works just great!

freya

BTW, The term "tough love" can mean different things to different people and there are people who tend to use it as a justification for being unnecessarily hurtful and mean....for me what it basically means is the practical/theory-into-practice result of successful detachment. So, detachment is the emotional state; tough love is the behavior that results from one being in that state.
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Old 08-02-2008, 09:06 AM   #7 (permalink)
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In my mind, the distiction between the two--mental illness and addiction--are apples and oranges. To be sure, sometimes the two go hand in hand, but it can be a chicken or the egg scenario. Tough love, to me does not mean berating or standing over the person screaming.

In my case, I think of events as to how AH would react if the shoe were on the other foot. Since I am codependent and believe he is not, I would bet my last 10.00, that I would be out on the street within the first six months if I repeated some of his antics. Tough love? You bet, he'd want to save himself and I must do the same.

In the case of mental illness, I believe I would have more compassion and empathy than in the case of addiction. I dunno, I'm not an addict, however, in dealing with this I feel that my mental health is at times compromised.
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Old 08-02-2008, 09:44 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I have been reading this forum a lot lately and feel a need to share. First off, many feel that there love ones are "safe" in jail. It is not always a safe place to be locked up in many jails/prisons. Violence is a every day possibility. There are frequently no alcohol/drug programs offered in jail.
A question I have for you guys though is what if your loved one suffers from mental illness as well as addiction? Is the "tough love" approach a good idea then? Addiction is not a choice and mental illness is not a choice either. Being homeless or locked up in jail with a mental illness makes a person much more likely to suffer from violence. Just something to think about I guess.

tib

Hi Tiburon,

I don't mean to be rude, but I have some issues with this "question." Perhaps it is not my place to say, but I felt as though this was less of a question, and more of a lecture.

Many of the people on this board have struggled for years, and are just getting to the place where they can put their needs first without feeling guilty. Where they can start to practice "tough love" with the understanding that their loved one needs to take responsibility for themselves.

I read your post to say, at root, that somehow the practice of "tough love" would be responisible for someone ending up in jail, or institutionalized. This is not the case. People are not locked up because their loved ones have decided to enforce boundaries.

They are locked up because of their behavior, their choices, and sometimes (sadly) their addictions. It may not be fair, and it may not be a safe or good place for them, but it is a consequence of their own actions.

I have several people close to me that suffer from mental illness (without substance abuse issues.) And while I love them, and have all the compassion in the world for them, I still do not allow them to treat me badly. I suppose they get a lot more slack than other people I know, but someone else's problem does not need to become my own. And mental illness, like alcoholism, is not something that is changed or fixed by the tone that my love takes.

Recently there was a small discussion on this board, concerning whether there should be posting between forums. Everyone was pretty cool with the idea, and I think that we all have a lot to teach each other. However, this particular board is not a very good place for active alcoholics to try and dissuade friends and family from practicing tough love.

I wish you all the best in your struggle with sobriety. The last thread that I saw from you was titled "Giving up on Sobriety." I really hope things have gotten better since then.

Peace.
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Old 08-02-2008, 10:04 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Does tough love work? Yes and no. It all depends on the individual and the situation. For myself, it was a must. No one was going to sweet talk me into quitting. I was to smart, to unique, to stubborn, to angry, to sick and to addicted to stop for reasonable reasons only. If people tried to reason with me, I quit listening. It went beyond listening to reason. I had to feel the pain and see it for myself before I was ready to quit and do the work to make it happen.
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Old 08-02-2008, 01:09 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Wow...good_luck, what an awesome post! I was unaware of the "background" here and it certainly does "thicken the plot" so-to-speak...and in that context, the purity (in the sense that, whether posters were aware of the background or not, they do not appear to have allowed themselves to be manipulated by it) of most of the responses is quite stunning -- for a bunch of codies, we done real good here!

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Old 08-02-2008, 05:53 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I asked this question because I often see people talk about their loved ones addiction. Addiction is much more complicated than that. If addiction is a disease then it should be no surprise how hard it is get and stay sober. I'm
sorry if this came out as a rant or lecture. However, I was curious as to exactly what "tough love" was. Thank You good folks and yes obviously, I am the drug addict.

tib
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Old 08-03-2008, 01:03 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I personally don't love the term "tough" love, as it implies a severity or spirit of mean-ness that has nothing to do with the intention. It's simply allowing someone the dignity of their personal life choices, but retaining your own dignity by allowing yourself the freedom to step away from the consequences of those choices. It's what we do when we allow our children to grow up and the only way that they can steer their own lives successfully is if we loosen our grip on the reigns.

What's tough is watching someone with choices, use those to bring themselves grief or hardship.
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Old 08-03-2008, 04:08 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Does tough love work? Yes and no. It all depends on the individual and the situation. For myself, it was a must. No one was going to sweet talk me into quitting. I was to smart, to unique, to stubborn, to angry, to sick and to addicted to stop for reasonable reasons only. If people tried to reason with me, I quit listening. It went beyond listening to reason. I had to feel the pain and see it for myself before I was ready to quit and do the work to make it happen.

Tough love, boundaries, ending enabling is actually the most loving thing we can do. It is a tough pill to swallow because normal logic tells us to help and care for the ones we love.
Very sadly these normal feelings and approach do not pertain to or work when dealing with chemical addiction.

Tough love or whatever you want to call it raises the possibility that the addict will decide to seek recovery.
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Old 08-03-2008, 04:15 AM   #14 (permalink)
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I asked this question because I often see people talk about their loved ones addiction. Addiction is much more complicated than that.
Uh... I dunno if I agree with that. Depends on what you mean exactly. Addiction broken down to it most common denominator is developing a chemical dependency. Now if if you're talking about the ramifications of addiction.... sure.

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If addiction is a disease then it should be no surprise how hard it is get and stay sober.
I dunno about the disease aspect, that's been debated to death. But having beaten a couple chemical dependencies myself, believe me, I know EXACTLY how hard it is to do. But the good news is it can be done. Happens all the time actually.

I'm the ex-coke addict with 25 years clean and ex smoker with 1 1/2 years smoke free. To kick my chemical dependencies I made a commitment to make a change. It's not easy, not by a long shot, but it IS that simple. Good luck with your struggle Tib. If you want it bad enough it's right there.
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Old 08-03-2008, 04:47 AM   #15 (permalink)
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In my mind, the distiction between the two--mental illness and addiction--are apples and oranges. To be sure, sometimes the two go hand in hand, but it can be a chicken or the egg scenario. Tough love, to me does not mean berating or standing over the person screaming.

In my case, I think of events as to how AH would react if the shoe were on the other foot. Since I am codependent and believe he is not, I would bet my last 10.00, that I would be out on the street within the first six months if I repeated some of his antics. Tough love? You bet, he'd want to save himself and I must do the same.

In the case of mental illness, I believe I would have more compassion and empathy than in the case of addiction. I dunno, I'm not an addict, however, in dealing with this I feel that my mental health is at times compromised.
I totally agree. I'm no shrink, but I'm fairly certain my AH has some sort of undiagnosed emotional disorder. He goes to AA several times a week, has a sponsor, has been to outpatient rehab. Someone posted an article over on the SA board about shame. That reminded me of him, although he works extremely hard to project the opposite. Anyway, he's been to see a psychologist (supposedly the best for addiction in our area) and hasn't made another appointment, although he says he plans to. I hope he does, but I realize I can't force him to and it doesn't benefit me to nag him about it.

Something else you posted rang a bell also. During my AH's last binger about 14 days ago, he said "If I were you I would have left a long time ago."
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Old 08-03-2008, 04:47 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Addiction is much more complicated than that. If addiction is a disease then it should be no surprise how hard it is get and stay sober.
tib
Sorry, but I have to differ after reading all of these posts from fellow codies, and yes I am also a recovering addict. Addiction itself seems relatively uncomplicated, if it weren't, why all of these stories about the addicts in our lives that are completely interchangeable? I've said it before, sure I didn't say it originally, but the addicts in our lives seem to be reading the same scripts, or operating from the same instruction manual.

And I also believe that while it may be difficult to get sober/straight, it is relatively easy, at least by comparison, to remain sober/straight.
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Old 08-03-2008, 05:57 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I guess my question is just what you think someone should do with an A who, as a result of their choices, ends up homeless? Or in jail? What if someone with an addiction (or mental illness) refuses treatment?

I also think that unlike mental illness, addiciton does have an element of choice. One can choose to fight that addiction and get sober. In fact, someone suffering from many mental illnesses can choose to seek treatment.

My xAF is facing homelessness next week. It saddens me greatly that this is happening. But it is his choice. He could choose to instead deal with his problems, find a job, etc. But he chooses not to do so. There is nothing I can do to change that.
I feel a lot of times people with a mental illness do not even believe they have a mental illness. I do not agree. You should never let someone with a mental illness just go becuase they have an addiction. They are more prone to violence. There is help out there.
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Old 08-03-2008, 06:01 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Yes we should put our needs first - but it does not mean that you allow someone with a mental illness to just walk away and wounder because we don't want to be hurt emotionally. We are all adults with responsibilities to our family.

Yes, I guess it all depends on the severity of the mental illness. But usualy mental illess does not cure itself but can be treated.

I think it is fantastic that people put themselves first. But there is a difference between putting your self first and just being selfish. I love my self and my family - it is all about setting boundries from I learned here.
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Old 08-03-2008, 06:06 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I feel a lot of times people with a mental illness do not even believe they have a mental illness. I do not agree. You should never let someone with a mental illness just go becuase they have an addiction. They are more prone to violence. There is help out there.

But unless the person is danger to themselves or others (narrowly defined by the law), they have the right to refuse treatment. I've been through this in VA. Its difficult, if not impossible to get treatment for someone who does not want it. It can be difficult to get treatment for someone who does want it if they don't have the right insurance or no insurance. Mental health treatment in the US falls way short of what is needed.

And I did not advocate just letting someone go because they have an addiction. I will advocate not ruining one's own life because someone else refuses to deal with their own problems, whatever those problems may be.
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Old 08-03-2008, 06:24 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Thank you Barbara, maybe I just misunderstood. I know and understand we need to put ourselves and our well being first. I do totally get that. It is just so hard to let someone go and although if something horrible happens to them in our minds we know it is not our fault and we did not cause this, but in our hearts it is a different story.

I feel this way because my AH has a mental disorder and suffers from severe bipolar and even during extensive dry periods and on his medication he does off the wall stuff that really puts him in danger.

He has been getting help for this and it does seem to be helping. I would do what ever I could to get him in mental help treatment if he refused. I just feel it is an obligation to the person I married in sickness and in health.

The old question is - is he depressed and bipolar because he drinks? Or does he drink becuase he is depressed and suffers from bipolar....no one in the medical field that I have spoken with seems to have the answer to this question.
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