You have to understand that the addict’s mind is broken when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Our #1 priority is to drink or use and remains that way until our #1 priority becomes growth. Therefore, allowing the active addict to stay with you, eat with you, share your roof, share your bed, share your wallet and remain comforted by your time, energy, love and presence does nothing but perpetuate the addiction. Being showered with comfort and privilege simply allows us to manage our addiction year after year.
You have to remember that we really don’t care. We are phenomenal actors and actresses. We will act like good little boys and girls to get back in your door, but then as soon as we unpack and settle in, we know we’ve manipulated you successfully and once it’s ‘all good’, so to speak, our minds literally go insane and we think we can drink and use drugs again, control it, get away with it, and it’s no big deal.
If we are robbed of our comfort and security – place to live, healthy food, comfort, love, sex, you name it – if we are robbed from the people in our lives who have loved and nurtured us, we might pause and think, ‘Do I really want to be this fucked and have nobody, or should I maybe do some fucking work on myself?’ It is the same concept with the ‘gift of desperation’. The worse we get, the closer we are getting to getting better… do you see? If our addiction progresses slowly, we simply muddle through forever because we can. If we get really bad really fast, we either die or get better. Sorry, but that’s how it works.
Sure addicts can be forced into treatment and once the fog has cleared, we may hear something or have some inner experience, something hits us and we suddenly want to change. But the point is that if addicts don’t ever come to want to change, or if they want to change but not completely, they will fail. You must understand that we are either completely okay (as in brain restored, insanity gone) or not at all.
Physical sobriety has nothing to do with it. You can see a recovered person visibly. It is palpable. There is a glow in their eyes. There is a fire inside. When well-cemented, guiding principles, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that have driven us and haunted us our entire lives (or since we mutated ourselves into addicts) are completely rearranged and new ones take over, that is how you know an addict has gotten better. Trust me, you can just tell. You just know when you can trust someone. You know when you don’t have to worry anymore. It’s a feeling, a shift. It’s internal, almost cellular. The energy has changed. The addict is gone.
So help me out, isn’t settling for anything less than this completely useless? Do yourself a favor and demand nothing less of the addict or the alcoholic in your life. If you allow them back into your life and your heart, knowing they are not truly okay and knowing it is still toxic, you are not honoring yourself, nor are you helping them.
If we don’t achieve escape velocity, then it’s right back to square one. It’s right back to relapse, heartache, mental illness and delusion. That’s why there is no other option than tough love. You are not helping addicts one single bit when you shower them with comfort and privilege and compassion. In fact, you are literally fueling the addiction and keeping them addicts longer. Same with designer drugs like methadone and antabuse. Same with talk therapy and watered down AA. Worthless. If all we do is read something or understand something or swallow something, we will die because we have not actually changed at all. We are fundamentally the same person and our addiction is fundamentally in tact.
We only change through work, through action. We change when we DO things. We change when we write inventory, when we make a tough amends, when we help someone, when we meditate and when we pray. Changing as a person and removing addiction requires hard work and loads of spiritual action. Nothing less.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware I can be a dick sometimes and often fail miserably at living by these principles. The person I describe and address in these blogs is me. It is meant to be educational. Take from it what you will. If you want to unload, that is more about you than me, but go right ahead because I’ve altogether stopped caring and it will give me a good laugh 😉
Also see: Enabling Makes You Suffer
What To Do With Addicts
A Message for Parents & Spouses
How Does One Love from a Distance?
Some Truths About Addiction
Working Isn’t Part of Recovery?
Comment on Narcissism
How Not to Help Addicts