There are many types of addictive behaviours that people choose to engage in to hide from their feelings and their life tasks. Some of the addictions your clients may present with could be alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders, gambling, smoking, Internet addiction, gaming, compulsive over-spending, sex addiction, codependency in relationships, and often a combination of several of the above.
People do not become addicted in isolation, nor do they recover in isolation. Therefore, it becomes important to be able to help the families and other loved ones when treating addicted clients. All too often, loved ones of addicts make critical mistakes when trying to help, ultimately leading to enabling behaviours of their own. Rather than actually helping, loved ones can unwittingly become “addicted to the addict’s addiction.” This creates a lose-lose situation for everyone involved.
When the loved ones of your addicted clients can understand the intrinsic differences between “helping” and “enabling,” as well as how vitally important it is to be able to set and maintain appropriate, self-respectful boundaries with the addicts in their lives, the entire dysfunctional system can begin to heal itself.
Whether your client is the spouse, partner, parent, child, or friend of an addict, the key to a healthy and stable recovery lies in helping them shift their focus away from their loved one’s addiction to their own self-care, thus coming off the roller-coaster chaos of addiction and ultimately living their own best lives.
In this time of Covid, the spike in addiction and related overdoses has skyrocketed. What we now know to be true is that an enabled addict does not recover. Families and other loved ones of people struggling with addiction need to learn how to do what is right for the addicts they love, even if that means coming out of their own comfort zone of enabling. As therapists, we can help families of addicts stop this devastating situation in its tracks.
Candace Plattor is an Addictions Therapist in private practice, where she specializes in working with the family and other loved ones of people who are struggling with addiction, in her unique and signature LoveWithBoundaries Family Addiction Counselling and Therapy System (LoveWithBoundaries F.A.C.T.S.). As a former opioid addict with 34 years clean and sober herself, Candace learned that overcoming addiction is a family condition: everyone in the family is affected by addiction and everyone needs to heal. For three decades, she has been helping both addicts and their loved ones understand their dysfunctional behaviours and make healthier life choices.
Candace’s book "Loving an Addict, Loving Yourself: The Top 10 Survival Tips for Loving Someone with an Addiction" provides a fresh and unique approach for helping the loved ones of people with addictive behaviours. Her mission is to assist addicts and their families to come off the roller coaster of addiction and to stop the horrific experience of addiction – forever.