Monday, October 19, 2009

For the families

This is a re-post from June. I've been talking to some people lately, and thought it might be a good time for this.

What did I do? How could I have been so blind? How do I fix this? Why don't they just stop?

Beautiful Boy, a book by David Shef about how his life was affected by his son's addiction, is an intimate look at what it is to love an addict while being powerless to make them stop. Shef gives a voice to the people on the other side of addiction: the ones who watch helplessly while someone they love destroys himself. Beautiful Boy is at once a requiem for the hope and expectation a father has for his son, and a ballad of self-preservation in the eye of the storm of addiction. If you haven't read it, you'll want to.

Recovery is a complicated process and successful recovery involves more than simply separating the addict from the drug. (As always, when I talk about drugs, I'm talking about all drugs, including alcohol.) HELPGUIDE.ORG , a comprehensive website about drug use and recovery, as well as other life issues, has this to say:

Understanding what is involved in recovery

•You cannot force someone you love to stop abusing drugs. As much as you may want to, and as hard as it is seeing the effects of drug abuse, you cannot make someone stop using. The final choice is up to them. The right support can help you make positive choices for yourself, and balance encouraging your loved one to get help without losing yourself in the process.

•Don’t expect your loved one to be able to quit without support. Withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant, painful, and even deadly. While medical input is always a good idea, if your loved one is addicted to benzodiazepines or is a heavy drinker, withdrawal can be dangerous and should be done under medical supervision.

•Recovery will be an ongoing process. Someone who abused drugs will not suddenly be a cured person once sober. Drug use may have been masking painful feelings that will bubble up to the surface. Many in recovery experience depressed moods for up to a year or more as their brain reestablishes from the drug abuse. Learning new coping skills to resist cravings, and how to apply them in stressful situations, is an ongoing process. Ongoing support is crucial to work through those issues.

Above all, take care of yourself.

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