Hey, Kate Duffy here from Tipping Point™ Recovery, where we’re doing things differently. We are teaching you by lifting the veil from my and others on our team’s personal experience of struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. We’re helping families.
Today I want to talk about a text I received, which is really common. And it’s in these text messages that I have discovered the way out for families and the way families can best help their loved ones.
I’m going to read the text and I’m going to talk and share a little bit about what I said to this individual who texted me and what I want you to know most about this situation.
First line that comes in is:
→ 📞 I’m reaching out to you right now because my family is in crisis.
This particular family is in crisis right now because they just had to set a boundary and send their active loved one home, and now they’re feeling the crisis.
I want to point out that this individual has been using drugs and alcohol to cope with life and since 12 years old. I’m not sure if this person is in their 30s or 40s, but we’re talking about a long time.
Addiction doesn’t happen overnight.
The crisis happens when we as families decide we don’t want to take it anymore or it tips the scale in terms of what we can tolerate.
You don’t have to wait for the bottom to fall out when it comes to drug and alcohol addiction. In fact, I wish people wouldn’t wait for the bottom to fall out. It’s really the only illness in the world that we wait for it to get worse before we treat it.
I’m glad they’re reaching out to us. The point at which the crisis becomes worthy of a phone call for help to a professional service varies from family to family. But I just want to point out that this crisis has been going on for a long time and it’s reached a pinnacle point for this family, they’re at their tipping point, they’re ready for help.
So this individual’s sister came to visit them. And after five days, they had to send her back home on an airplane early because she was overmedicated, high, or both.
They didn’t know if they were coming or going with all the lies and they didn’t want to enable her addiction.
→ 📞 It was awful and the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever done.
I want to talk through some of what I hear in this problem that has been going on for a long time.
A lot of us alcoholics and addicts can cover this up for a long, long time. And we, as a family, put up with it—
and we try to help.
This all feels like a way we can help—by putting up with it all until we can’t anymore, right? That’s what’s happening here.
They put this person on a plane, they set a boundary for themselves, a healthy boundary:
We can’t be around this.
We don’t know if we’re coming or going
We don’t know what’s a lie and what’s not a lie.
And that is how addiction presents. Usually with lying.
I want to point something out about addictions presenting with lying:
Your person is lying, but they’re not a liar.
They’re sick. And they’re struggling with addiction. Someone’s lying because this illness presents as a lying, denying, justifying and rationalizing illness.
It’s maddening. I get it. It’s frustrating.
With Alzheimer’s, we know it changes the brain in a way that the individual forgets things. We expect it as a symptom. We get frustrated with dealing with the symptom, but we don’t get frustrated that it presents itself as a symptom because it’s expected. Why can we not expect lying and manipulation as symptoms from addicts?
I follow a few people on TikTok who are documenting their loved ones’ journeys with dementia and Alzheimer’s, and it’s super frustrating, but we’re taught it’s a brain disorder, it’s going to look this way, and here are some tools to strategize to help you navigate it.
But it’s NOT an expectation that the family has with addiction. We’re not teaching it yet. Here at Tipping PointTM we are, but in the world, you’re not hearing it being described as a condition that’s changing the brain and therefore the behavior is going to look a certain way.
Therefore, we’re more frustrated and we respond to the alcoholic and addict who’s struggling with that frustration and anger. If you do that with dementia and Alzheimer’s, you’re gonna see it’s just a never ending spiral that you’re caught in.
You don’t have to stay in that cycle with addiction, and that’s what we’re teaching at Tipping PointTM.
What I like to point out to this person reaching out to me is that your issues are: it’s the most awful and heartbreaking thing I’ve ever done.
I want to help you with that. How to unpack that and how to know it’s okay to set that boundary.
By educating her I can help her come to grips with it even though it was awful and heartbreaking. It was the right thing to do, but she’s second guessing herself now. I want to help her understand and strengthen her insides around that decision-making because she’s going to need to make other decisions like that. That’s a really healthy boundary.
If this woman stayed alone in her awful and heartbreaking decision, next time, she may not set a healthy boundary, which isn’t good for her or her loved one.
The part that I now want to focus on is they put this individual on a plane to go home. I want to make sure the family understands that this individual needs help.
When I was explaining to her that she did the right thing and asked if she wanted to offer her loved one professional help…
Her reply about her sister: → 📞 She has proven in the past that she can do it on her own. She got off of cocaine, oxycodone, methadone and other prescription meds all on her own without professional help. But she just jumps from one addiction to the other.
It is really common for all of us in the world to want and think that the individual struggling can do this on their own.
Part of the challenge with that is sometimes we do. Mostly we don’t.
So she has proven in the past that she can get off these things, but then she just chooses another addiction. So here’s what I want to point out about that. That’s because…the problem isn’t the choices (whether oxycodone, methadone, etc).
Her problem is an inside problem that she’s self-medicating with these drugs. So when the drugs go away, I need something else from the outside to cope with this internal thing. There are always other addictions: sex addiction, money, overspending, gambling, working, relationships, etc. Until we’re treated, we will just seek another addiction.
When I got sober after several years, I noticed my sugar intake was really climbing. I don’t just mean I was eating a lot of sugar, I was straight up addicted to sugar like I had been alcohol. It started to impact my life in a way that alcohol did.
I was justifying.
I was rationalizing.
I was feeling sick when I was eating it.
I had to choose to do a deeper dive on myself as a recovering person.
So I caution you, when you hear yourself saying or feeling or thinking “They’ve proven it in the past, they can do it. So I want them to do it again.”
I understand why you want them to do it. I just want you to know that the majority of people don’t or can’t and it’s why we lose so many people to addiction.
While someone has been able to do it in the past, if they’re not doing it now….
Well, the past is usually an indicator of the future, right? So if they’ve fallen off before…
In this case, professional guidance on how to help her is best.
We have professional guidance here at Tipping PointTM and we are experts at engaging people.
Typically, we’re not going to engage your loved one by having them calling us. You certainly can give them our phone number and hope they call, but 98% of them don’t or won’t because they’re addicted. They’re caught in the trap of lying, denying and justifying and rationalizing.
What we do at Tipping PointTM is we want to help you get them to call us and we have a way that we teach you to do that. That’s our introductory program: Stop The Chaos.
That is what this individual and her mom are going to begin with. They are coming to our Double Circle Meeting and they’re going to take Stop The Chaos. Our introductory program is where you can start to get information about how to make changes.
We want you to access this information because we want you to have the knowledge, the tools and the resources to make a difference. Because you’re not wrong for setting healthy boundaries. They are hard to set. But we’d like to help you do that so that you don’t live drowning in the chaos of addiction and your loved one actually will create change when you change. We’re asking you to do some hard things so that they can do the same.
So stick around because new things are coming to Tipping PointTM.
Forward this to someone if you think it will be helpful to them. I hope something here today that I said is landing with you. Go do something different. I know I am.