Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Help or Harm?

"When the addict in my life asks for my help how do I discern help from harm?"

A reader emailed this question to me yesterday. And this is one of my favorites because loved ones really don't know what to do.

The line she must draw is simple: if the help she gives moves the addict into recovery then do it. If her help allows the addict to procrastinate and continue with the addiction, then don't give it.

For example, paying for treatment is helpful. Sending the addict to see a doctor who specializes in addictions is helpful. A ride to a recovery meeting is helpful.

Allowing an addict to sleep on the couch isn't helpful. Loaning a car to an addict isn't helpful. Giving money for any reason isn't helpful. The addict will buy drugs with it. Giving them money to keep them from "being sick" isn't helpful either. No matter how much pain they seem to be in.

The examples might be helpful, yet I know loved ones have emotional ties that make it difficult to be firm.

It's easier if one realizes they're no longer dealing with their loved one. They're dealing with someone who's possessed. Someone in the grips of an overwhelming compulsion.

Addicts lie to loved ones. They steal from them. And they do this in spite of their upbringing. In spite of their best intentions. The focus of their lives is about feeding the addiction. All else is secondary.

My own experience is that I didn't change until everyone quit helping. When they got tough. That's when I realized I had a problem. 

And while I was pissed off at them at the time, I later was able to thank them for saving my life.

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