How to help a loved one whose primary relationship is with:
drugs, alcohol, gambling, gaming and other addictive activities.

This site provides positive solutions-based support for families and friends who suffer because of their loved one’s use of addictive substances and activities.

Think for a moment about volume of music you've listened to in your life so far. This is my play list of recovery tools. Like my favourite music it is the work of others more talented than me. My intention is to share what works for me and hopefully some of it will work for you and your loved one.

Connect with people in recovery

Recovery, ours and theirs, is not a "one size fits all". Dealing with addictive behavour is difficult, but we can make even more so by reacting in negative ways and not learning to understand why they behave the way they do.

The good news is that people do recover from their substance dependancy. So go and meet them and listen to their journeys . Recovery groups have what they call "open" and "closed" meetings. The open meetings welcome visitors. Find out who is facilitating the meeting and they will check that the rest of the group is happy to have you sit in and listen. Please respect the guidelines of their group, particularly regarding confidentiality.

I'll never forget the first Narcotics Anonymous group I visited. I learned that addiction was an "equal opportunities destroyer". There were people from all backgrounds and professions at the group. I was uplifted by the gratitude they expressed for having a place where they felt safe to talk openly about their struggle with substance dependancy. Other attendees were supportive, understanding and non-judgemental. That meeting was a turning point for my own recovery. My own judgemental attitude to drugs and drug users, based purely on ignorance, ended there. It was replaced by compassion and the motivation to find some way to help.

I reflected on my own adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and couldn't work out how I'd not become dependent myself on the drug (alcohol) I enjoyed and used, often to "numb the pain". I've since learned that there is no simple explanation, no one wakes up one morning with the intention to become addicted to substances. They simply try something, find it rewarding and then, even when they no longer find it rewarding, the pain of not using is a huge hurdle for their recovery. Because of the suffering they have gone though, those people in long term recovery that help others recover, have my upmost admiration and respect. Attending all types of open recovery meetings gives me hope, thanks guys!

Separate the person from the addiction

That anxious little boy you proudly took to his first day at Primary School, that girl you fell in love with and married, that daugter that achieved straight A's and headed off to university - they are still there and they still love you. Unfortunately they are now in a relationship with with their drug of choice (DOC). It is in control of them and it will do anything to maintain that control. I find it helpful to picture an invisible parasite on my loved one's back; it's not nice, a cross between the Sci-Fi characters Predator and Alien. No matter how fustated and angry you feel, when you shout, scream and lecture them, you are guaranteed to make the situation worse.

Think about it from their perspective. If they don't use, their parasite inflicts a painful psychological comedown until they use again. If they find the motivation and support to overcome this comedown, the next phase of physical withdrawal kicks in, the "rattle", and the pain becomes significantly greater. In the case of the "legal" drug alcohol, they can even have seizures and die. You may have read about withdrawal or seen it portrayed by actors, but as a regular visitor to detox sessions as trained family member, I found seeing young adults rattle deeply disturbing.

Their parasite is a master manipulator. One of the methods it uses is to shift the blame from itself onto anyone else in range. Its easiest and favourite target is us! So by shouting and screaming we are giving it the ammunition and pulling the trigger. Once it notices we've stopped shouting and screaming, it moves to the next phase, pushing "our" buttons. It will control our loved one's behaviour in ways to make us angry and when we eventually react, it can again shift the blame onto us

We significantly reduce the time it takes for our loved ones to choose recovery if we learn to stop our negative behaviour and learn to understand theirs.

I'll never forget a lady that attended our group. She was like a "screaming fish wife", she was so angry and fustrated. This was not her true nature, but a result of her not understanding the effect she was having on the addictive behaviour of her loved one. She walked into her second meeting like a Buddhist nun in comparison, "I've stopped the shouting, we're getting on so much better"

Families and friends are not powerless over addiction

Far from it, whilst we can't do our loved one's recovery for them, families and friends can significantly unbalance their unhealthy relationship with their drug of choice. We can connect, support each other and share, evidenced based, modern recovery tools.

Everyone's recovery journey starts with a single step in a new direction. So our online meeting calendar page is a good next step, click on the link and listen in to a few meetings, to see if any help.

F and F meeting calendar