Our beloved Dr. MacAfee wrote, This is the simple fact: substance drives the addict. Families grow ever more dysfunctional and stressed as they try in vain to cope with the disease’s devastating impact, but most often they move into deeper levels of confusion and denial. While underestimating the severity of addiction, they are shocked and outraged and overreact believing that, somehow, they should have known from the start.
My reflection: It took me years to learn this truth: substance drives the addict. I, too, was shocked and outraged, and totally incredulous that I lived in denial for so long. How was it possible?
Today’s Promise to consider: Our loved ones, who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, chase their next fix. Their obsession has nothing to do with us, but it is about their love affair with the drug. It took me years to realize that my son didn’t want to hurt me or our family. He knew he was destroying himself, but he couldn’t stop, until the pain became overwhelming and he made the decision to change his life.4239
This post reminds me of the classic story of “The Frog in Boiling Water” (see below). I’m sure that all parents who have lived through this addiction journey can relate to that frog. I was told by a alcohol/drug counselor that my denial was necessary. He felt that if my denial was broken too soon, before I was ready to accept the truth, that it might create even more devastating results. Looking back I now have to agree with him. Of course, if you stay in denial it will also create long term devastating results. This is the truth of denial; it is necessary but no one can free the individual from it’s devastating grasps until the individual is ready and no one will be ready until the pain of their denial becomes greater than the path to their own recovery. This is your personal journey and your recovery will be in your own time and in your own way. It serves absolutely no purpose to blame yourself or accept blame and shame from family and friends. Here’s what I said to family and friends who shared unwanted advice, “I found your nose! It was in my business again!” 🙂
Frog in Boiling Water
They say that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger.But, if you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant, and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late.
Dear Pat, Thanks for “The Frog in Boiling Water” story. It’s perfect.
For me, I stayed in denial a l-o-n-g time, too long. I once asked Dr. MacAfee if earlier intervention could have helped Jeff, and he said, “There are no guarantees. His addiction would have happened regardless, but early intervention might have short-circuited the length of the addiction’s run.”
I isolated myself and my family. Dr. MacAfee was an angel, who met Jeff at just the right time. I’ll be forever grateful.
…and I’m grateful to you for your support, wisdom, and compassion.
Insidious is the best word I’ve come up with to describe addiction. The definition for insidious is “proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects”. The fall into the pit of addiction is a very gradual and subtle fall, and one no person initially means to happen to them. However, it is a fall that wreaks havoc on every life touched by the addict. Thank God the fall often (but not often enough) leads to hitting bottom which leads to recovery.
Dear Penny, You’re right that the word ‘insidious’ is a perfect descriptor of addiction. It happens that way – gradually, a little at a time – until families finally realize that they are caught in the vice and then scramble to understand what happened. xoxo