Setting boundaries with an addict: Tips from Lion’s Gate Recovery on how to ‘hold the line’

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FEATURE — Once the dependence on a substance has taken root in an individual the addiction is now holding them hostage. Now the addict is both the driver and the engine of our loved one’s life.

The person we love is a captive in a prison of their own making and their captor a monster of their own creation. We on the outside must realize this new person will stop at nothing to get what they want. The means and measures to purchase, obtain and maintain their alcohol and drug use are endless. The addict will find a way to use by any means necessary.

Our loved one is locked away beneath layers of fear, pain and the conditioning of habitual and crippling alcohol or drug use has inflicted. The addict has brainwashed the hostage to believe that the only reason to live is to use.

Much like a parasite, the addict will live in the brain of the hostage indefinitely, driving our loved ones to use drugs or alcohol until in desperation they receive help or perish. When we have a using addict in our lives we have to separate the actions of the affliction and the emotions we feel toward our loved ones.

They are not one in the same. Right now our mission is to get them the help they need.

No more negotiations

We are not hostage negotiators. When our loved one is caught in the grips of addiction we tend to make pleas or deals to give us some illusions of control. Our emotions get the best of us and we beg for trivial improvement when what is needed is much more drastic.

We cannot bargain for comforts that delusional control brings. Enabling our loved one further reinforces the simple fact the addict can use as planned. Our bargaining and lack of willingness to hold real boundaries only hurts both parties.

The first step is we must commit to getting our loved one into treatment. The second thing we should do is realize one visit may not be enough; recovery for them is an ongoing lifelong process. When we stop doing things for our own peace of mind, we allow ourselves to take correct steps to help the people we love.

Set the boundaries

The time has arrived for us to draw the line in the sand. We see the addiction getting worse and we have accepted our part in allowing it to be convenient for the addict to use.

Stock image, St. George News

There may have been a triggering event: money or jewelry missing, responsibilities abandoned, disappearing for days on end, lies exposed, caught in the act, multiple criminal offenses, etc. We have had enough. It’s time we do everything we can to get our loved one into treatment.

If we need suggestions on the type of boundaries to hold Lion’s Gate Recovery offers free family group,which can point us in the right direction and answer any questions we may have. Family group offers a unique experience for anyone who needs more information about addiction.

At this point it is important for us to pre-emptively reach out to an admissions director such as Kelly Cluff to start the process of not only educating ourselves but also researching what options our loved one has available to them.

There are many factors that can determine the kind of treatment our loved one can get, such as household income, insurance policies, inpatient versus outpatient treatment and location of treatment. The process of setting boundaries does one fundamental thing for us, we are committing through action to get our loved one the help they need.

Hold the line

This is going to be the hardest part. We can think about boundaries in theory yet when it comes to implementing them and the conflict that could ensue we may entertain the ideal to fold.

It’s going to be difficult. An addict who is inhibited, restricted or prevented from using will be irate. There is no other way around it. Things are going to get ugly. Holding boundaries is never easy.

We have to know this is for the best, the conflict we feel with our loved one in the present will be worth it when they are getting help. We cannot let them manipulate, guilt, shame, threaten or otherwise convince us to back down.

Hopefully by now we know how they will attempt to exploit us and we have reached out to treatment admission counselors for help in dealing with these situations. Holding the line in many cases is the most appropriate time to hold an intervention. This is the time we need to continue to do everything we can to get our loved one into treatment.

What’s on the line

Every year drug abuse is on the rise and unfortunately so is the overdose rate. The people whom we care about only have so much time before they join the statistics of habitual drug users.

In 2017, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported more than 70,000 overdose deaths. We cannot stand by and do nothing. Lives are on the line. There is no time to waste.

Setting and holding boundaries is the part we can play to lead the addict in our life on the road to recovery. There is something we can do if we have the courage to face the truth of addiction.

It’s also been reported that only about 10-15 percent of addicts who need treatment get it. We can make up that difference when we hold boundaries and have difficult but necessary conversations.

The addiction epidemic is only getting worse, yet there are things we can do to help the people we love.

Hold the line, because you might help save a life.

Written by SHANE P. CURRIN.

• S P O N S O R E D  C O N T E N T •

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