A Great Article on Educating Ourselves to Help Addicted People

Old 03-10-2011, 08:37 AM
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A Great Article on Educating Ourselves to Help Addicted People

We must educate ourselves to help addicted people
November 07, 2010 12:00 AM
Dear Editor:

"Celebrate a Drug Free Life." That's what was emblazoned on my schoolteacher wife's Red Ribbon recently during a drug awareness week. Drug abuse is a tragedy and most of us do not know how to deal with it. Melvyn Fein's recent column on being nice without considering the consequences of our actions led me to think about the problem of enabling drug addicts. When a person is suffering an addiction, perhaps homeless or hungry, it is natural to want to help that person, it is natural to want to be nice. But we must be careful how we help addicts. Being nice to persons with addictions often makes them worse.

Years ago the "Tough Love" program highlighted how it was necessary to refuse to enable a person with an addiction. I have heard many experts and people with personal experience say that sometimes the only hope for the afflicted person is for them to get so low, to get so desperate, that they finally wake up and seek help. After trying to help with money, food, shelter, medical assistance, counseling, whatever they can think of to help, family and close friends realize that in order to truly help they must not enable the addict. They must turn tough because they believe this is the only way for the addict to find redemption, salvation and recovery.

Unfortunately, too often there are well meaning "nice" people who meet the addict and do not understand the true nature of the problem. Out of niceness, they act without considering the consequences of their actions. In an effort to be nice and caring, they may work against the best interests of the addict.

They may either be fooled by the addicted person or are swept up in their own efforts to be nice. These "nice" people often make no effort to find out the truth about the addict and the addict's family. They probably believe the addict's denial of the addiction.

Addicts can be Dr. Jekyls and Mr. Hydes: sweet to those who give them what they want, and nasty to those who try to give them what they need. The family and true friends watch helplessly while the "nice" people enable the addict. Meanwhile the family prays for a cure for their loved one, hoping that it will come before their loved one dies. To deny food and shelter to an addict, knowing the risk to their life, must be brutally difficult for the family. Yet they do it to save them. I cannot imagine how difficult that must be.

It takes courage to be truly compassionate to the addict by being tough. True compassion counts the cost of actions. We should support those families struggling with addictions and be wary of being nice to addicts who ask us for help. It is good to have the inclination to be caring and nice and society benefits from that inclination generally.

But, addictions are a special problem. We must not let our good motivations cause harm to the addict who denies their addiction and asks for our help. We must educate ourselves and learn how to truly help the addict find salvation. There are many resources on addictions and enabling behavior. A good starting point: Stop Enabling Drug and Alcohol Addiction (A Narcanon publication)

Allen Hirons
Published in the Marietta Daily Journal
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Old 03-10-2011, 02:44 PM
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Yes, Habit, a wonderful article and thanks for posting it. :ghug3

Just like the recoving addict, we friends and family have to learn new ways of thinking and new behaviors.

I simply cannot believe how much my life has changed thanks to SR and Alanon.... even though my son is not in recovery.

In many ways, I feel that I love him more now than I did when I was enabling him in his addiction.

Educating ourselves and sharing with others has been the key for me.

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