Are you a “Fixer”?

June 27, 2024

I had a conversation with one of Tipping Point Recovery’s former students, who shared an experience I think is pretty common for a lot of family members of someone with substance use disorder (SUD).

I believed that I needed to be everybody’s hero,” she said, reflecting back on her time before joining Tipping Point’s programs. “I came from the viewpoint of loving others by controlling them, showing them how they should do things, telling them what I think would be best for them, wondering why they weren’t on my timeline, etc.”

We talk about roles a lot here at Tipping Point—which roles have we taken on that are no longer serving us? Things like case manager, personal assistant, chauffeur, etc.

This mother had taken on the role of “Fixer.”

Not just with her loved one; it was her nickname at work too.

“I used to think, Well, I’ll do it for you. No one else knows how to do it, so I’ll do it.”

It’s a common belief for family members impacted by addiction. This feeling of “no one else can do it, so I have to,” or “I have to hold it all together—do everything, be everything, control everything—or else it will all fall apart. It’s all on me.”

It’s not true that it’s all on you, but it’s a scary belief to let go of.

What helped this mom do just that was realizing always being the “hero” wasn’t necessarily helpful.

“A really big lesson for me was that if I keep rescuing people, they don’t get a chance to figure it out. It’s keeping other people from being their own hero.”

This was true for me in my own recovery. When people did for me, it made me feel like I couldn’t do it myself. Having the opportunity to try, and even fail, but then come back and figure out a solution on my own is what allowed me to rebuild my self-esteem. 

“The belief I now have that I do not know what’s best for people and that the way I do things is not “the way” is so freeing and so great for everybody around me and so great for me,” this mom shared. “And you taught us that. It was like relief.

She’s not the only Tipping Point Recovery student to feel relief. In fact, the overwhelming majority of our clients report feeling similarly as a result of our programs.

“When I met you, it was because I was looking for something for me because I realized I was not well. I needed something very different than what I had already experienced, because I needed to be broken out of the way that I usually chose to cope, which was to be in everybody’s lane.”

You can find relief too. 

If any of this resonates with you, the best place to start is with my book, Dear Family, Why Your Loved One Won’t Accept Help and How To Help Them Anyway.

It outlines our Dear Family Framework, which is the foundation of all of Tipping Point Recovery’s programs and was developed through over a decade of my own personal recovery and my work with hundreds of families like this mom.

There’s a whole section breaking down some of the different roles you may be stuck in as well as exercises and steps to take to start letting go of the roles no longer serving you so you and your loved one can reach a healthier place.

“It’s not a quick fix,” this mom warns. “But if you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and do the homework, tremendous change can happen with Tipping Point.”

To roll up your sleeves and get started, purchase Dear Family here.

And comment below: are you now or have you ever been the “Fixer”? If you are, what does the thought of letting go of that role bring up for you? Or if you’ve already let it go, how does it feel to no longer put everything on your shoulders?

Leave a Comment


  1. Shirley Butler

    Yes, I am often the Fixer in my family. My husband had a stroke 28 years ago, when my son was 12, and I have taken on a great deal of responsibility for many years. I am retired, my husband is now 78, and my son is 40, and has been using drugs for many years. He had been seeing a doctor for almost 8 years, and had not finctioned well during that time. But things came to a head recently. And he spent about 4 weeks in a behavioral hospital. I tried to have him involuntarily committed, but the Probate judge wouldn’t do it. He went to the Oaks in Greenwood, SC, but only stayed 4 days. Thats how i was enrolled with you. Anyway, I am reading the book and trying to figure what to do, and not do.
    Thank you for what you do. Hopefully I can get the Zoom to work properly this time.

    • Kate Duffy

      Thank you for sharing, Shirley. We would love to see you at the meeting.


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