Tag Archives: Addiction

Are You Enabling a Loved One? 


We welcome back  guest writer Trevor McDonald to The Purple Jacket

It’s never easy to watch someone you love struggle.

Naturally, you want to do everything in your power to make them feel better. You only have the best intentions.

But how can you know when your helpful attitude is crossing a line? It’s quite difficult because enablers usually don’t realize they are enabling.

Enabling always begins innocently enough, but it can develop into desperation.

Typical behaviors that loved ones enable

When someone mentions the term “enabling,” your mind probably goes straight to addiction. With addiction, enabling is extreme and can be quite dangerous. However, there are other ways we enable our loved ones without realizing.

Imagine, for a moment, that you’re caring for a family member who is morbidly obese. She derives a great deal of happiness from food, so you pick up her favorite chocolate cake when she’s having a bad day. This is an example of enabling.

On a smaller scale, some parents enable their children to adopt bad habits. Let’s say, your child despises cleaning, so you never make him do it. You’re enabling him to become a lazy adult.

In every case, you have the best intentions. You don’t want to see your loved one unhappy or uncomfortable. Maybe you even want them to associate the happiness they get from negative behaviors with you. So you enable.

The problem with enabling behavior

In every case of enabling, you are encouraging damaging behavior. Enablers usually realize this fact, but they justify their actions in various ways.

  • “He would use drugs anyway; may as well do it in my house.”
  • “What harm could a little piece of cake do?”

Each excuse justifies the bad behavior and encourages the person to continue.

  • “Pot can’t be that bad or mom wouldn’t let me smoke in the house.”
  • “My caregiver encouraged cake yesterday. Why not today?”

It’s easy to enable. We’ve all been there at one point or another. But we should instead be encouraging our loved ones to make healthy, productive choices – especially when a behavioral problem is present.

How to stop enabling

Stopping enabling behavior isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’ve been enabling a loved one for some time, an abrupt end can seem like you’re being mean or uncaring – even thought this is the furthest thing from the truth.

People are afraid to change their behavior because they fear their loved one may push back. Or they could fear other consequences. If you’ve been picking up someone else’s mess (literally or figuratively), there will be some fallout when you stop.

Here are some tips to help make the transition smoother:

  • Talk openly about your plans – Instead of going “cold turkey” without explanation, talk to your loved one about how you plan to stop enabling, and how it’s for her own good. When she exhibits behavior that you previously enabled, remind her of your new role in her life.
  • Get support – Talk to someone you trust about what has been going on and how you’ve been enabling. This should be someone you can talk to when you’re feeling weak. This person may also help you identify situations where you are enabling without realizing.
  • Get other adults on board – If you and your spouse or another family member have been enabling together, it’s important to get on the same page about stopping the enabling behavior.
  • Let your loved one experience consequences – This is the most difficult part of the process because it can be painful for you and your loved one. However, if someone repeatedly gets into trouble knowing you’re going to bail them out, you must step back and let law enforcement do their job. We do this with the hope that our loved ones will finally learn to take responsibility for their own actions.

Enabling is a difficult and painful behavior to stop, but it is for the good of yourself and your loved one.

Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic whose been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.
 

 

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How to Help Your Loved One Overcome the Fear of Asking For Help


We welcome back our guest writer Trevor to “The Purple Jacket”

Overcoming obstacles in life is only half the battle. The other half is living and functioning after the obstacle has been overcome. Addiction is a complex disease that individuals can violently be sucked into, without any recollection or realization that a substance or behavior has suddenly defined their life so dramatically. Pulling oneself out of addiction is a process – a journey that takes almost a lifetime to conquer. The desire to end an addiction is self-respect, but seeking help itself might possibly be the most frightening step, but the most courageous one and a mark of strength.

By seeking guidance outside of their own opinions, an individual with addiction is completely opening up their emotions and memories, leaving an incredibly personal part of themselves vulnerable to criticism – by no means is that a walk in the park. The fear in asking for help is completely valid and should never be something seen as humorous or a disposition to be taken lightly. Asking for help is always the hardest step. As the supporting friend, family member, or spouse – you are an assurance to your loved one that there is value in seeking help. You are their support system that provides positive affirmations and actions. Not to mention, you also remind your loved one there is a meaningful life outside of addiction, and they have so much to experience that makes life worth living, and that it can be done without unhealthy coping mechanisms and tendencies.

 First, sitting down and having an honest, raw conversation with your loved one sets everything on the table and gives you both an opportunity to share how you feel. You are able to learn why they want to take this journey. On the other hand, your loved one will always remember that someone understands their circumstances to the best of their abilities and is willing to be supportive. The utter transparency between you both is a solace, and may even make your loved one speak more easily and freely to a professional therapist or support group in the future. By your encouragement and love, it can give a loved one a little push to take the initiative to find help on their own. You can hold them accountable but also encourage their independence – because self-reliance is all that is necessary. Remember when you asked for help once? It was monumental to feel acknowledged by another human being.

 If your loved one wishes, go with them to support groups, wait in the seating area of a psychiatric office, or attend an event with them that will be a bit more bearable with a person by their side. The actual presence of someone during a difficult moment can make all the difference in the world. It is natural to be hesitant doing certain things alone, especially when particular moments require openness.

Besides meaningful conversations and formal treatments to addiction, simply having fun with your loved one is a break from anything disheartening in life. By experiencing the world outside of addiction, your loved one can see that there is truly an end-result to the recovery process. It is easy to lose oneself in addiction, question self-identity, and spiral into a dark place. But by enjoying themselves and letting go of pain – even just for a few minutes – your loved one can find pleasures in things and hobbies that they once loved, or will come to love.

 If there is one last thing that helps your loved one, it is never losing a sense of purpose from the trials of their mistakes and relapses, triumphs, and self-doubt that gives them the courage to ask for help. Life isn’t a race to see who can get to the finish line with the least amount of trauma and scars. Life is what they make it, and you hope that even through unexpected and painful bumps along the way – there is not an end, but a never-ending opportunity to give themselves an existence they have always wanted.

Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic whose been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.  Trevor can be reached at 

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/trevor-mcdonald
Website: https://about.me/trevormcdonald
Email: trevorc.mcdonald@gmail.com

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An Overlooked Issue: Alcohol and Drug Addiction Among the Elderly


Today we welcome guest blogger Trevor to The Purple Jacket. 

When you think of substance abuse, you may think it’s a problem for the young. But the stats show that teens aren’t the ones at greatest risk for addiction. In fact, it could be their grandparents.

As Baby Boomers approach their senior years, they may be bringing some demons of their past. One study published by the Society for the Study of Addiction showed that marijuana use of adults over 65 grew a startling 250 percent from 2006 to 2013.

Another study found that older women and Hispanics are having more issues with alcoholism than ever before.

Why is this so alarming? Well, we know that substance abuse is harmful at any age, but it can cause more serious problems in the elderly. The risks associated with alcohol and drug abuse are much greater in your senior years.

Diagnosing the problem

Symptoms of substance abuse often mimic other symptoms that are related to the natural aging process, so alcoholism or drug abuse can easily go undetected. Many health practitioners are also unaware of the depth of this problem, and so they are unlikely to ask the right questions or run the appropriate tests.

The hidden dangers of senior addiction

As we age, our bodily functions begin slowing. This includes liver and waste removal functions that help rid the body of toxins like alcohol. When a senior consumes alcohol, it is likely to affect them faster and stay in their system longer than someone younger.

Seniors are also more likely than any other demographic group to take multiple prescription medications daily. And many common prescription drugs are dangerous when combined with alcohol or other drugs. Even over-the-counter medicines can pose a danger when combined with alcohol, so it’s important pay careful attention.

How to spot substance abuse in seniors

Although it’s more difficult to spot the signs of elderly drug and alcohol addiction in seniors, there are some red flags that can help identify a problem. If the senior in your life is exhibiting the following behaviors, it may be cause for concern.

Substance abuse warning signs

  • Desire to spend time alone – This could be a sign of secretive drinking or substance abuse.
  • Drinking rituals – Although having a little wine with dinner isn’t a crime, if it is consistent, you may want to look for other warning signs.
  • Slurred speech – If slurred speech is out of character and not related to a medical problem, there’s a possibility of substance abuse
  • Depression – A person who is depressed is more prone to substance abuse, and substance abuse may also cause depression. So if you notice that your loved one is frequently depressed, this could signal a larger problem.
  • Increased falling/balance loss – This one can be tricky because it’s not uncommon for seniors to have balance issues, but if it seems to come out of nowhere and/or is combined with other warning signs, there may be a substance abuse problem.
  • Doctor “shopping” – If the senior in your life changes doctors frequently, this is a red flag. It may be a sign that they are shopping around for multiple prescriptions.

Treatment options for senior substance abuse

Identifying the problem is the first step, but how you handle it is just as important. Communication is of the utmost importance. When you broach the subject, do so with empathy and respect. You’ll want to send the message that you’re coming from a place of love and understanding.

In many cases, older adults aren’t aware of the increased risk of senior substance abuse. Sharing this knowledge can be helpful.

There are many support groups available for helping older people remove substance abuse from their lives. These are also places where they can find the kind of fellowship that they may be missing. It’s always beneficial to have the support of people who are in a similar situation to your own.

Therapy is always a good option too. It can help him or her get to the root of the problem and begin to find solutions.

Elderly substance abuse is a growing problem that can affect any of the seniors in our lives. Look out for the warning signs to help keep your loved ones safe.

Bio:

Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic whose been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.  

You can contact Trevor via LinkedIn or his website Website

 

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