Is it possible to love someone to death? Yes, I believe that it is; especially if that loved one is an addict. The consequences that are the result of addiction to alcohol or drugs can be devastating for the addict; but what about those around him or her? What about the friends and the families which can also bear the burden of consequence? Families and friends of those who suffer from the disease of addiction face their own consequences which are created by a ripple effect created by the behaviors of the addict. Just as when a stone is dropped in a pond it creates a ripple affecting its surroundings. As family members or as friends, why do we allow the ripple effect of the addict in our lives actions continue to affect our lives? Why must we suffer the burden of another person’s affliction? I think the better question that we should be asking ourselves is; am I helping this person or contributing to the problem?
It is natural for us to want to be able to do whatever it is we can in order to help the ones that we love and care about. It is natural to want to reach out with a helping hand to a family member or friend who is having problems with addiction to alcohol or drugs. It can be hard to watch with caring eyes a family destroying his or her lives because of their addiction. It is understandable to want to take them in once they have hit a bottom and have suffered the sometimes great losses which come with addiction.
I have known and talked with families about their continued support of the addict in their lives. They have gone out of their way, put aside their plans and lives, in order to try and help. I have often heard the stories of parents bringing in their adult children who have had problems because of continued abuse of alcohol, or continued abuse of drugs such as the abuse of over prescribed medications. Family members who do not want to see their child, spouse, nieces or nephews suffer any more. They provide them with shelter, food, money and transportation and at times do not ask for anything in return.
When I talk to people about families and addiction one topic that is discussed the most is about enabling the addict. When we ask ourselves; I am helping this person or adding to the problem? Are we being honest with ourselves about the answer or the story we tell ourselves? A question that is commonly asked is; when is it appropriate to draw the line with our support? That can be a difficult question to answer. However, if we want to be honest about recovery the appropriate time to draw that line is right here, right now.
This might sound cruel and unsupportive; but when we look at our role in the addict’s life the best support that we can provide is to set very healthy boundaries. As I have mentioned before, there is nothing wrong with wanting to help those loved ones in your life through this; at the same time you must take care of yourself first.
If you are one who is living with someone who suffers from addiction to alcohol or drugs or if you feel that your life has been greatly affected by someone who is an addict there is help for you too. Just as with recovery from alcohol and drugs there are support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA); there too are support groups for the family members of addicts. Try looking into attending an Al-anon or Alateen support groups. You can find meetings online by searching for alanon. Or go to their website at www.al-anon.alateen.org.