“Addiction isn’t about substance – you aren’t addicted to the substance, you are addicted to the alteration of mood that the substance brings.” ~Susan Cheever
If you’ve ever dealt with an addict, you know it can be painful and difficult for all involved. I’ve put together this Q&A that offers a glimpse into what the families of addicts deal with, as well as some vital answers that you’ll need to know if you’re dealing with one now.
If you’re dealing with a narcissist who is also an addict, you might want to check out this page. Stay tuned through the end of the post for a list of resources for addiction-specific help.
Give Yourself a Break
You are likely feeling a compendium of emotions right about now, teetering between wanting to love your addict better and wanting to run as far and fast away as possible. Feelings of love, hate, sorrow and even elation can cycle through you faster than the bad tuna you ate last week.
So let’s start here: there are only a few things you can really do to help your addict right now. If he is in the throes of addiction, you need to take it step by step.
Begin by taking a little advice from AddictionandRecovery.com:
These are the ways you can help the addict in your family.
Educate yourself on addiction and recovery.
Try not to accuse or judge. Avoid name calling. This is a difficult time for both of you.
Provide a sober environment that reduces triggers for using.
Allow the addict time to go to meetings.
Understand that your lives will change. Do not wish for your old life back. Your old life to some extent is what got you here. You both need to create a new life where it is easier to not use alcohol or drugs.
Make sure that you both have time for fun. People use alcohol and drugs to relax, escape, and as a reward. The addict needs to find alternative ways to relax, escape, and as a reward otherwise they will turn back to their addiction.
Do not enable. Do not provide excuses or cover up for the addict.
Do not shield the addict from the consequences of their addiction. People are more likely to change if they have suffered enough negative consequences.
Set boundaries that you all agree on. The goal of boundaries is to improve the health of the family as a whole. Do not use boundaries to punish or shame.
If you want to provide financial support, buy the goods and services the addict needs instead of giving them money that they might use to buy alcohol or drugs.
Recognize and acknowledge the potential the addict has within them.
Behave exactly as you would if your loved one had a serious illness. What would you do if they were diagnosed with heart disease or cancer?
Q: My husband, Steve, is addicted to pain pills. He was in a car accident last year and had many injuries. After losing his job, he started relying more on the pain pills and refuses to get treatment for his addiction.
I’m worried about the impact his addiction is having on our two children.
Our daughter, Jessica, is only seven years old. Our son, Jamie, is ten years old. They’re having a hard time understanding what is happening to my husband, and they’re asking a lot of questions. My daughter keeps asking about the pills she sees him take every day. I want to tell them the truth about his pills, but I’m scared.
How can I tell my children the truth about my husband’s addiction?
A: Addiction can hurt the entire family, especially young children, so your desire to protect them is important. Young children are naturally curious, and they’re also worried about their father.
Your children already suspect something serious is happening, so it’s important to address it. Their questions will continue until they get answers from you or someone else.
Children have a remarkable ability to spot lies from their parents. It’s important to tell them the truth about your husband’s addiction. However, the conversation must be age appropriate. First, though, try to determine how much they understand about Steve’s addiction and go from there.
Jessica and Jamie are young, but they’re still able to pick up on your emotions and issues. This is why it’s important to carefully discuss the addiction with them.
Q: How do I start the conversation about Steve’s addiction with my children? I’m worried I’ll say the wrong thing and Steve will get upset. I’m also worried the children won’t understand.
A: You may want to talk to your children alone, so Steve’s presence doesn’t influence the conversation. It’s important to pick a time for the conversation that is calm and free from other arguments.
Your children need to be reassured that you and Steve love them, but they also need to hear the truth. You may want to start the conversation by bringing up the questions your daughter keeps asking about the pills. This will help you transition the talk to the addiction without it seeming like an odd choice.
An age-appropriate conversation will help your children better understand what is happening in the household. They already suspect something is going on, so you can’t ignore the issues.
Your children are aware of Steve’s accident and have seen his injuries. You can talk about how he started to take the pills for his injuries. It’s important to keep the language of the conversation age-appropriate and use simple terms.
You may want to mention that addiction is a disease. Your children will probably remember their last cold. You can use this to explain that there are different types of illnesses and diseases. Steve is sick and needs treatment, so it’s crucial they understand that this isn’t normal behavior.
You also want to leave time at the end of the conversation for Jessica and Jamie to ask questions. This will help them feel like they’re being heard and understood.
Q: I don’t understand why Steve isn’t worried about the children learning the truth. Steve’s addiction has progressed to the point that he doesn’t care what he does in front of the children. He takes his pills in front of them. He argues and fights with me in front of them. He even took our son with him to pick up pills from a friend.
What can I do to show Steve the children are being hurt by his behavior? He was always a great father, and I feel like his love for them could help him overcome the addiction.
A: First, it’s important to remember that opiate addiction can change a person’s behavior in many ways. It’s also important to keep in mind that addiction can change your entire family structure.
Steve still loves the children and you, but the addiction is stopping him from making good decisions. Addiction can actually change brain chemistry.
Steve’s addiction to pain pills makes it difficult for him to see how he is hurting the family. He may not be aware of how his actions are affecting the children. However, even if he is aware, he can’t stop or change because of the addiction.
You can’t control the addict, and you can’t blame yourself for his blindness toward the children.
Showing Steve the impact his addiction is having on the children may not be enough for him to change his behavior. His desire to overcome the addiction must come internally for it to last and work.
Steve can get better, but it will take time and effort for him to move past the addiction.
Q: I know my daughter is going to ask why we can’t take him to a doctor. She always wants to take anyone who is sick to the doctor. She can be very persistent.
How do I explain to my daughter that Steve doesn’t want to go to the doctor or get treatment? I’m worried that she will make Steve angry with her ideas.
A: Children don’t like seeing their parents sick or hurt, so Jessica is simply trying to help. In her own way, she thinks a doctor can cure or save Steve. However, it’s important to talk to your daughter and address this topic.
First, you may want to acknowledge her feelings and state that you understand why she wants to help.
Next, you want to help her understand that Steve isn’t ready to go to a doctor. Steve is an adult and can’t be forced to seek treatment.
You also want to make sure that Jessica remembers it’s not her fault that Steve is sick. She also needs to know that she can’t fix his addiction. As you discuss his disease, you want to avoid blame.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself! Check out these self-care tips from AddictionAndRecovery.org:
Take care of yourself. Living with an addict is exhausting. You also need time to recover.
Avoid self-blame. You can’t control another person’s decisions, and you can’t force them to change.
Do not work harder than the person you’re trying to help. The best approach is to not do things for the addict, but instead to be an example of balance and self-care.
Being a caretaker is not good for you or the addict. Understand that there is only so much you can do to change another person.
Ask for help. Talk to a professional. Go to a support group such as Al-Anon. (More support groups are listed below.)
Do not argue or try to discuss things with the addict when they are under the influence. It won’t get you anywhere.
If at all possible, try not to be negative when dealing with the addict. That may only increase their feelings of guilt and push them further into using.
Q: I get it, but I’m still scared for Jessica and Jamie. I keep thinking about the time that Steve took our son with him to get more pills. I’m scared he’ll do it again, and they might get hurt in his care. However, I don’t want to give up on him and leave him.
He’s still a good father, but he makes mistakes. How do I protect my children and save my marriage?
A: Your desire to protect the children and save your marriage is normal. You don’t have to give up on Steve, but you can take precautions to protect Jessica and Jamie.
First, you may want to discuss his pain pill addiction with his doctor. You can attend one of his appointments and talk about the issues you’re seeing. You mentioned that he’s also getting pills from a friend. It’s important that his doctor is aware of this.
Second, you may want to consider therapy as you deal with Steve’s addiction. You may need individual and couples therapy to help you handle the issues.
Steve’s doctor and a therapist can help you save your marriage. In addition, you can take steps to keep your children safe.
You may want to hire a reliable and mature babysitter to watch the children while you’re at work. Even if Steve is at home, a babysitter can protect your children. Addicts often take their children with them to pick up drugs because they can’t leave them home alone. A babysitter can help eliminate this challenge.
Choose the babysitter carefully. It’s important that they understand the issues in your home and Steve’s behavior.
You can’t hide Steve’s addiction from a babysitter. You may want to hire a close friend or family member who understands your household. However, it’s important to be aware that this will shift the family’s dynamic. Your family is already changing because of Steve’s addiction, so this can have another impact.
Q: I understand our family is changing because of Steve, but I still wish I could stop it. How can I convince Steve to get help? Every time I bring up this topic he gets angry, and we fight.
A: It’s important to remember that you can’t blame yourself for the addiction. In addition, you need to keep in mind that you can’t change Steve. It may be tempting to wish that you could magically restore your family to the point before his addiction. However, focusing on reality is more important.
You may want to do an intervention to help Steve. Before you arrange one, you may want to consult with professional therapists and doctors who treat addicts. Instead of pointing out Steve’s faults and negative behavior, the intervention focuses on his positive qualities.
The intervention is designed to remind Steve that people still love him and want him to get better.
You want to have a professional therapist or doctor attend the intervention, so they can talk to Steve. They may be able to convince him to enter treatment and change his life. However, you need to have realistic expectations and understand Steve may reject this idea.
Another option is to have a former addict talk to Steve and encourage him to get help.
Talking to a person who has been through the same issues may help Steve realize he can change. You can find former addicts willing to talk to Steve at various clinics and rehabilitation centers.
You can also help Steve sign up for local meetings designed to help addicts in various stages of the disease. Depending on the circumstances, you may want to attend the meetings with him or have a friend go with him.
If these steps do not work at first, then consider waiting a bit and trying them again.
Sometimes people need more space to process the ideas. Steve may change his mind later about treatment options.
Do you need help dealing with an addict in the family? Here is a list of resources to get you started on your path to family recovery.
Al-Anon.org (al-anon.org) For family members of alcoholics.
Nar-anon (nar-anon.org) For family members of addicts.
Gam-anon (gam-anon.org) For family members of gamblers.
“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” ~ James Dean
Your life is a wonderful gift. Each day, you can do anything you want, any way you want, any time you want. You might be saying to yourself, “I seem to be caught in the humdrum of my life right now” or “I’m struggling to achieve my life goals. How can I get to a place where I can do whatever I want?”
The fact is that you’re choosing everything that’s happening now, even though you may feel stuck in your current life situation.
If you can imagine what you really want and allow your dreams to come to the surface of your mind, you can do great things. You have the power to achieve the life you’ve always wanted, simply by opening your mind to the dreams you may have been afraid to dream in the past.
This guide brings you 10 quotes that can change your life. They will help you create the incredible life that you aspire to live. Study each quote, reflect on the discussion, and then put the tips for each quote into action.
The quotations can be interpreted in many ways, so feel free to put your own spin on it. What does each quote mean to you?
Get ready. Your dream life is waiting for you to go after it.
“If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” ~Zig Ziglar
Good news, people. You can be anything you want to be–and as Mr. Ziglar said, if you can dream it you can achieve it!
Take a moment for yourself. Sit back, relax and allow yourself to dream for a bit about whom you’d like to be and what you’d really like to do with your life.
If you could simply paint an image of who you want to be, what would that look like? Free-association like this can be incredibly helpful in realizing your goals.
Spend some highly productive time meditating on your dreams with these strategies:
1. Find a quiet time and place. This will be somewhere where you can reflect without interruption. You might take a walk in the park or a bike ride for an hour. Maybe you’ll choose to lay out on a blanket under that big shade tree in your back yard.
2. Focus on what makes you happy. Think positive thoughts. Think about what you wanted to be when you were 10, 15, and 20. Was it the same occupation or way of life at each stage of your development? Or were you always coming up with something new you wanted to do?
3. Think about your deepest desires. What do you really want? Do you want to have a lot of money and travel the world? Or just settle down and have a family? Maybe you picture yourself surrounded by many close friends with whom you spend a lot of your spare time. Maybe your preferred way to live is an independent, quiet lifestyle alone with your books, paints, and hobbies. Whatever–just “do you.”
4. Visualize your living space.Focus on what you’ve got in your living space that is GOOD. Where you live largely determines the kind of life you have. Living in a warm southern climate means you can be more physically active in warm weather year round. If you live in an apartment in the middle of the big city, you might live a life filled with wall to wall people, ethnic foods, and cultural experiences of all kinds. There’s rarely any quiet and you’re incredibly active, partaking of all that city life has to offer. A rural setting, on the other hand, provides its own sense of stability. You enjoy nature frequently. The sights, sounds, and smells of plants, animals, and the four seasons surround you as you walk or work outdoors. Stress levels are lower.
5. Make a wish, take a chance and break away (from your old, negative thoughts). You might think that making a wish is just for kids. But for the sake of this exercise, if you could have just one wish for your life, what would it be? To be a husband someday? To be a mother? To travel to a few exotic countries you’ve wanted to see? To be an accountant or small business owner? Your wish will reveal a lot about you and what you desire.
6. Dream about your ideal career–or, if you’re already there, dream about taking it to the next level. Continuing to paint the picture of who you would choose to be, where would you be working? What kind of job credentials would you hold? What would you be like in that situation? Because work is almost one-third of your life, consider your career choice as profoundly integral to your happiness.
7. Get your planning on–let’s go! Now that you’ve reflected on your life and who you’d like to be, how close is your actual life to your desires? What can you do to help yourself become who and what you want to be?
You deserve to live the life you choose. Reflect on who and what you want to be. Let your mind go for a bit. Then, ask yourself what you want for yourself. Think about where you’d prefer to live. Think about the career you’d have if you could do it all over again.
Finally, ask yourself what you will need to do to get to the place of your dreams, physically, emotionally, and career-wise. You can be anything you want to be. Make some effort now to find out who that really is.
What do you think? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, below.
“Forget whatever figure you may have heard,” Wargo writes. “Not to intimidate you, if you happen to be preparing for a job or grad school interview, or a blind date, but new research shows that you may need to have your act together in the blink of an eye.”
Wargo points out a series of experiments done by two Princeton psychologists, who found that it only takes a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger’s face–and perhaps more surprisingly, getting to know that person better doesn’t often change those first impressions. On the plus side, longer exposures were found to increase confidence in a person’s judgments.
So why do first impressions matter?
Human nature isn’t always kind. The way we see a person’s facial appearance has a big effect on how we treat that person–and the way people see our faces directly affects how we get treated.
The fact is that people who are considered attractive tend to do better in nearly every aspect of their lives. Just look to the legal system for confirmation, Wargo says.
“People with ‘mature’ faces receive more severe judicial outcomes than ‘baby-faced’ people,” he writes. “And having a face that looks competent (as opposed to trustworthy or likeable) may matter a lot in whether a person gets elected to public office.”
I know, it’s not fair. There are plenty of physically beautiful people who are not so pretty on the inside, and there are plenty of amazing people who might not make the best first impression based on their appearance.
We’ve all had our off-days (or weeks or months) and I’m no exception. Personally, I gained a lot of weight during pregnancy and struggled to take it off–heck, I’m still working on those last few pounds.
But when my scale tipped out at my highest weight ever, I was very aware of the fact that I was being treated differently because of my appearance. People made assumptions about me that weren’t true–that I was not intelligent, that I was lazy, that I was not competent. It was very hurtful and frustrating, for sure, but definitely motivation to change and get back to being my fabulous self.
So, aside from being YOUR fabulous self, how can you make a great first impression every time? Just learn how to accentuate your assets and work what you’ve got.
Answer these questions to help you plan a positive and memorable first impression:
Do you smile and make eye contact?Your facial expressions can be an asset or a liability. A real smile is seen all over your face. It shows not only by the shape of your mouth but through your eyes. Do you genuinely smile when you meet others? Studies show that smiling faces are generally appear more attractive than those that are frowning or have a neutral look, and people will feel warmer toward a smiling person in most societies.
What do you say? When you first meet someone, are you very quiet? Do you just say, “Pleased to meet you,” or do you chatter on incessantly about whatever’s on your mind at the moment? Your social skills and ability to communicate determine how you come across when you first meet someone. Make your first verbal exchanges with people memorable. If one of your assets is that you can tell a good story, go ahead and tell one.
What kind of mood do you portray? Are you serious or funny? Do you look like you’re waiting for something to happen, like you want to fade into the wallpaper, or like the class clown? Your mood shows your personality to people and could make either a forgettable impression or a fantastic one that will precede you for years to come.
How do you look? In most situations, there’s no need to be dressed in the most expensive or trendiest fashion, but is your look clean and well put together? Or did you skip ironing your wrinkly shirt or hope that no one notices that you didn’t shave? Maybe you didn’t plan ahead what you were going to wear to an event and just threw on the first thing you grabbed. If you’re neat, clean, and your clothes reasonably decent-looking, you’re on the right track to making a positive impression. Find clothing that flatters you–not too tight or too loose, and find colors that work for your skin tone. Don’t be a slave to fashion, if that’s not your bag, but do consider current styles and pick up a few pieces to update your wardrobe each season if you can.
What kind of effort do you make? When getting to know someone, do you ask specific questions of the person to show your interest? Try finding common ground by asking how they know the host or what they do for a living.
What do you want people to remember about you? This might be the most insightful question of all. Who do you want to be? If you know the answer to this, you’ll be able to adjust your behaviors, mood, and appearance to give the impression you truly want to make. You can use your assets to make a well-considered statement about yourself.
Are you stressed out? Stress is one of the main factors that can negatively affect our mental and physical health. While there are medical treatments to help you deal with the effects of stress, such as sleeping tablets or anti-anxiety medications, these do not usually deal with the real cause of the problem.
Here are ten tips to help you deal with the stress in your life.
1. Discover Your Weak Point.
Learning to recognize your weak point will tell you when you are under too much stress. Some early warning signs include: headaches, tiredness, insomnia, indigestion, diarrhea, irritability, poor memory, crying frequently, or heart palpitations. Consult your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms – if there is no other medical explanation, you may be under too much pressure.
2. Get Rid of Unnecessary Stress.
A good way to find causes of unnecessary stress is through this exercise:
Make a list of all the things you plan to do this week. Put them into two columns – things you plan to do for OTHERS and things you plan to do for YOU. Which list is longer? Then circle your priorities on the list. What can you eliminate from what is left?
3. Show Your Emotions.
Many people are afraid to express sadness or anger because they believe it makes them appear vulnerable. However, holding in your emotions will only cause you more long-term stress. Cry when you feel sad, even if it’s just for a romantic movie. Laugh when you’re happy. Even smiling can do wonders to improve your outlook.
4. Organize Your Life
Perhaps you feel constantly stressed out because you’re not sure of what will happen next, or you worry about forgetting things. Try using a day planner. You can write things down and know that they will be there to remind you to plan ahead. At the beginning of each week, you can look at the week ahead and prepare.
5. Value Yourself.
Do you worry about what others think of you? Do you think you need to go out of your way to be appreciated? You are probably more valued than you think. Try making a list of all the skills you have and all the things you are good at. Or you could make a list of positive adjectives to describe yourself. It will also help to spend some time with friends and loved ones – they are the people who value the most and can help you realize how wonderful you truly are.
6. Don’t Be Bored.
Do you have any hobbies? Is there something that you have always wanted to do but haven’t given a try? Discovering a new hobby can be a way to relieve the stress in your life. You may even consider volunteering with non-profit organization – making a difference in others’ lives can be incredibly fulfilling.
7. Learn to Relax.
A great thing to do after a stressful day at work is to simply relax. Sit or lay down in a comfy place and close your eyes. Imagine you are someplace peaceful, such as a grassy meadow or a beach. Try to feel yourself there –think of the sun on your face and the sounds of nature around you. You may even try relaxing one part of your body at a time, starting with your feet and gradually moving to the top of your head. Just 15 minutes of total relaxation will benefit your mind and body.
8. Stop Worrying.
If you feel stressed out because you worry frequently, you could try letting them out. Write them down as a list or in a journal. This may help you think about WHY you worry about these things and what you can possibly do to stop worrying.
9. Go on Vacation.
Some people go years without taking a vacation. If that’s you, then now is the perfect time to get away. Even a 4-day weekend can do wonders to take your mind away from the stress around you. You’ll come back refreshed and revitalized.
10. Do Nothing.
Seriously. Many people, especially Americans, feel stressed because they are constantly on the go. There is nothing wrong with “doing nothing” every once in a while. It’s a great way to clear your mind of all that stress.
About the Author
Patricia Duggan has a Masters in Psychology and has been practicing for 11 years. She maintains the site Psychology Degree Guide. She writes about various subjects within the psychology field.