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Do you get caught in this trap?

March 8, 2024

Do you think you understand addiction? I’m going to challenge you a little—not to prove you wrong, but to bring your awareness to if this is a trap you get caught in as so many of the families I work with do.

The more aware of the trap we are, the easier it is to pause rather than get caught up in it.

Here’s the scenario:

You call someone up in an absolute rage, fuming, “He fucking did it again.” Or, “She told me she would stop, and I just found bottles.” 

That friend says to you, “Well, it sounds like they’re really sick. It sounds like they’re caught in their addiction, and it’s not a choice. Remember that?” 

And you respond, “Yeah, of course, I know that.”

Do you know that?

Most of us say we know this. But most of us admittedly act as if we don’t know this. 

Do you understand that your loved one is sick with a complex disorder and not at choice?

What’s more—do you accept it?

If you do, then why are you reacting that way?

Think of if instead of substance use disorder, your loved one was losing their hearing. Would you get angry at the fact that they couldn’t hear you and you had to repeat yourself over and over? Maybe you would get frustrated but do you think you’d be mad at them?

Or imagine if they had dementia. Would you ever yell at them, “Why are you not remembering me?

You would likely feel frustration, grief, and a whole mix of complex emotions, but in neither scenario would you blame your loved one for the effects their condition had on them. 

The reason why is that you would understand what those effects are. A doctor would probably sit you down to explain exactly how their condition will progress and what you should expect. You would know and accept that your loved one isn’t choosing not to listen to you or not remember you, that there is some other factor at work here beyond their control.

Knowing and accepting are two different things.

That same level of education and support are rarely available to families whose loved ones are struggling with addiction.

Without being taught what addiction is, how it hijacks the brain, how it progresses, and what it takes to recover, it’s no wonder you might react the way I described above. Even if on the surface you know addiction isn’t a choice. 

Knowing and accepting are two different things, and reaching the acceptance stage is a process. It takes

  • understanding addiction;
  • understanding the ways it makes you feel;
  • and learning to respond in a new way that will get you different results.

So, I’m curious—do you find yourself getting caught in this trap? This knowing on the surface but reacting from a place at odds with that knowledge?

If so, I encourage you to take note of it and pause. It’s in pausing and reflecting that you can take back your power. 

Let me know in the comments (or reply to this email) how this lands.

And if you’re looking for a tool to help you both understand addiction better and learn ways to pause in the moment, our Stop the Chaos training is always available to you. We’ve begun our March study group, but you can still hop in and join us for our second of four live sessions this Thursday at noon EST. Just check the box indicating you’re interested in joining the study group when you register. 

Whether you join the study group or not, the training materials are available to you for life.

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