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As I look at family and addiction, I often try to understand the journey that families have been on and it’s quite a parallel process to the person struggling with an addiction. And what I’ve come to realize is that when a person is refusing to get help through whatever means they’ve been offered, it is quite important for family members to focus on setting a healthy balance instead of looking at tough love as an option. Tough love is often more of a punishment as perceived by the individual.
Families often struggle with a lot of issues related to an individual’s behavior and when they witness some of those behaviors, they begin to experience fear. Part of that problem relates to powerlessness, and when families experience powerlessness with their love for someone, then it exacerbates a fear that then they don’t know quite what to do.
What we like to do is to shift that focus off the client and onto the family members to help them in the parallel process, in order to find ways to take care of themselves. This requires a change of thinking and understanding in action that really is about relentless self-focus. In that process they begin to change the dynamic of their relationships and begin to support their loved ones in moving towards a place of treatment and recovery.