What does it really take to get sober and stay sober? If you talk to…
Accepting That Your Loved One May Never Recover
When you love someone who is addicted to alcohol or drugs, your life starts to revolve around his or problem with addiction. While your love one obsesses about drugs or alcohol, you obsess about him or her. Life is stressful and unpredictable, and the impact of addiction may affect every aspect of your existence. You may lose sleep and you may have to deal with financial problems. You might experience shame and embarrassment caused by the actions of your loved one while he or she is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you are obsessed about one thing, it’s about the thought that if only your loved one would stop drinking and drugging, everything could go back to being the way it used to be. The problem is that you have absolutely no control over whether your loved one ever gets sober.
The Nature of Addiction
As much as you want to believe that your loved one will get sober someday, that may or may not happen. The nature of addiction is that addicts are compelled to continue to use their drugs of choice in spite of the negative consequences.
Even if your loved one eventually gets sober, the pull to resume the use of drugs or alcohol in the future will continue to challenge his or her sobriety. The life that you long for that doesn’t include drugs or alcohol and isn’t overrun with cravings or triggers isn’t coming back. The possibility of relapse may continue to threaten your loved one’s sobriety, if it’s ever attained. If your loved one eventually gets sober, he or she will have to remain continually committed to recovery in order to maintain a life that doesn’t include substance abuse. Being cured isn’t an option.
A hard lesson for the family and friends of addicts and alcoholics is that it is impossible to make the choice for someone else to recover. You can beg, plead, yell or scream or you can threaten to leave, but you can’t force someone else to get sober. You will find that you are powerless over alcohol and drugs, no matter who consumes them. You are especially powerless over your loved one’s decision to get sober or to do what it takes to stay sober.
The more you dwell on trying to force your loved one to get sober, the crazier you will drive yourself. In some cases, the more family members try to force an addict into recovery, the more he or she will resist the idea. For your own sake, you have to practice powerlessness. It’s important to make a conscious decision to detach from your loved one’s addiction because there is absolutely nothing you can do to force sobriety. Letting go and detaching may feel like the hardest things you have ever done.
The Path to Your Own Recovery
An unfortunate fact for you or anyone else who loves an addict or alcoholic is that your loved one maynever choose to recover. It’s also possible that he or she may go into treatment at some point, but then relapse and resume a life of active addiction. When this happens, it is extremely heartbreaking for family and friends. But you can’t allow someone else’s choices to destroy your life. You have to get on a path to your own recovery.
A good place to start is to go to some meetings of Al-Anon where you will be able to hear the experiences of other people who have been in similar situations. You will learn that the 12 steps of recovery will give you a path to follow as you strive to heal from the struggles of loving an alcoholic or addict. You can learn how to detach from obsessing about your loved one and instead focus on your own life again.
You deserve to lead a happy and healthy life, even if your loved one never gets sober. As painful as it is to detach from watching your loved one self-destruct, it’s still possible to learn to enjoy your own life and accept that your loved one may never recover.