Today I want to answer a question that comes in often, probably one of the top asked questions.
How do I connect with my loved one when they’re in active addiction?
Connection is the opposite of addiction so it’s great to connect with people when they’re struggling.
However, there are certain ways that we might be trying to connect that are really not helpful.
The first question I’d ask you is…what is your goal?
What is your desired outcome?
Is your goal to create change?
Is your goal to get them to do something?
Is your goal to make yourself feel better in the moment?
What is your intention with connecting with them right now?
Answering this question can help you make a decision that is responsive vs. reactive. It can help you make a recovery-informed decision vs. a pain- or fear-based decision.
If you recognize your desire to connect is about you and your need and isn’t necessarily going to be helpful to your loved one, I suggest you ask yourself…is there somewhere else I can get this need met?
We strongly suggest you get your needs met at your meeting, in your recovery program, at your therapy appointment, with your sponsor, with your close and trusted friend. (I’ll talk more about all this in another blog post).
We cannot control what others do but we can certainly control what we do.
I like to suggest you suspend, just for a moment, your desire to change someone else and investigate this further.
This pause allows you to be more intentional. That’s always good news when addiction is involved.
Are you trying to get them to respond with, “OMG…you are so right. I don’t know what’s the matter with me, I don’t know what I’m thinking…of course…I will stop drinking now!”
Did you chuckle reading that? Most often when I say this in a training, people laugh. A resonant laugh. As in, yeah…that’s crazy thinking, but I do have that thought!
It’s OK. Of course you want to be able to say just the right thing to get them to stop. But this thinking is stinkin’ thinkin’! It’s going to get you caught in a loop.
It’s not helpful.
It’s no way to live.
You can’t stop someone from drinking. Period. You don’t make someone drink and you can’t stop someone from drinking.
The addiction cycle is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
We the alcoholic, when we struggle, we can completely identify with that insanity. That loop…
- We’re going to just try to drink on Tuesdays.
- We’ll try to stop drinking beer and only drink wine.
- We decide we won’t drink alone, social drinking only.
- Etc, etc!
That’s us trying to control the drinking.
You trying to control the alcoholic from not drinking is the same-exact-thing.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t still create change.
If you are in a dance with someone for years and years and you decide to change your feet, they will have to change theirs.
So the change can begin with you, and that’s what we teach at Tipping PointTM.
Change what you are doing so they can change too.
At the very least, you will pull yourself out of this loop of stinkin’ thinkin’.
That’s so much healthier for you.
And it’s better for your loved one too.
If your goal is to connect with your loved one heart to heart, try this out.
Pick a period of time where you will test this out.
I don’t know about you but If I thought I was going to have to change something for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t be as inclined to start.
How’s 72 hours to start?
Decide to stop doing anything that you’ve been doing prior to now that isn’t working.
Write down that you’re making a commitment to yourself to stop doing what you’ve been doing for 72 hours. Sign it.
Think of your connection in smaller chunks of time, way smaller. We’re not talking about two hour talks here. Don’t try to rationalize with addiction. If somebody’s actively using, you are trying to rationalize with something that you cannot rationalize with. So just stop trying.
Some simple (verbally or through text) ways to connect:
I love you
I’m sure that’s hard
I hear what you’re saying
Please choose recovery
I love you and no.
I love you and not today.
I love you and not now.
I’ll pray for you.
I’m praying for us all.
This is hard.
This is really hard.
I get it.
That’s how I’m looking for you to connect with your loved one for 72 hours.
That’s connection. No convincing, no bargaining, no begging, no yelling, no cutting off.
Let’s do things differently.
Try it out.
We teach you to do everything differently because the old way isn’t working.
Thanks for giving this a try. Watch how you feel.
I can’t wait to hear how you feel. Let me know.
P.S. Next week’s video is going to be a little bit deeper into how you are exactly like them. Sorry, not sorry. Yes, how you are just like them—how you are just like a struggling alcoholic or an addict. When you start to come from this place and you learn about it more, you can approach it all really differently and you will connect. You will get better and they’ll follow.