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This brief video clip overviews key points in this article:
This is one of a series of articles on evolving a
("functional") family (Lesson 5). The series exists because the wide
range of current U.S. social problems suggests that
most families don't
fill the primary needs of (nurture) their members very well.
That suggests the epidemic
effects of the lethal [wounds + unawareness]
proposed in this nonprofit Web site .
a major stressor in all societies. There is widespread
public confusion and ignorance about what true addictions are, what causes them, who they affect, and what to do about them. This
brief series of articles offers perspective
on these topics.
If you're concerned about an adult or child you believe may
be addicted - including yourself - keep her or him in mind
as you consider the ideas below.
This 3-page article covers...
What is an addiction?
Symptoms of a
language can hurt or help
True and pseudo
another adult is addicted:
related 2-page article
in Lesson 1 offers options for managing a personal
addiction. Read this artice4 first.
This article assumes you're familiar with:..
intro to this nonprofit Web site and the
I've been a professional
family-system therapist since 1981,
I've been recovering since 1986
from being raised in an alcoholic
family. I have studied the topics in this series professionally
since then, and struggled with my own
denials, wounds, and unhealthy compulsions as an
ACoA - Adult Child of an Alcoholic family.
I completed a 9-month graduate-school course on
clinical work with addicted families, and I have learned
about addictions and their effects from thousands of hours
working with adults and children with addicted (wounded)
ancestors and family members. Many were in
divorcing families and
What is an Addiction?
Have you ever "obsessed" about someone or something? An
obsession is something that a person
thinking about. A habit is a semi-automatic
learned sequence of thoughts and actions thatcanbe controlled.
A compulsion is a repetitive
action-sequence which the person cannot
control by "willpower."
sequence may or may not be harmful
- e.g. overdrinking vs.
excessive nail-biting, scratching, fantasizing, or hand-washing.
A true addiction
compulsion to do something repeatedly that is clearly harmful to one's self and/or
There are four types of addiction, which all work
the same way:
compulsive ingestion of
including caffeine, nicotine, ethyl alcohol, "street" and prescription
drugs, and some "comfort"
foods high in sugar and fat. Some substance addictions
like ethyl alcohol and heroine are amplified by
work, sex (including pornography), exercise, worship, cleaning, overeating, shopping,
Internet usage, fantasizing, and gambling;
"states" like addiction to righteouscauses(zealotry);anger
sexual or other excitement
All true addictions follow a
predictable course, and have
common traits (below).
They all serve to temporarily distract
(self-medicate) the person from
relentless inner pain - i.e.
shame + guilts + anxieties
hurts + confusion +
anger + frustration + sadness + hopelessness
What Causes Addiction?
Answers to this age-old question have ranged from "demons" to "lunar
rays" (hence "lunatic") to a "weak will," to "addictive or immoral
personalities." The advent of
family-systems therapy in the
1950s, and of codependence, "Inner Child," and Adult Children
of Alcoholics (ACoA) concepts in the 1980s, have combined to
suggest a new explanation for addictions.
An increasing number of mental-health professionals now believe that
non-organic addictions are promoted by
traumatic early-childhood experiences - e.g. chronic
neglect, abuse, and/or
abandonment. These are epidemic and widely denied in
many cultures, I propose that they are caused by the
silent [wounds + unawareness]
silently down the
generations. Most professionals now accept that
addictions stress all members of a family system, not
just the addict.
These ideas and my
own research and experience suggest these premises...
("dysfunctional") families, kids automatically develop
"false selves" - a
group of protective personality subselves focused on survival
need-gratification ("comfort"). Usually kids' caretakers
were raised in similar dysfunctional environments, and are unaware
that they're controlled by
false selves (wounded) also.
For various reasons, the
environment and these subselves cause children and
To reduce and distract from their inner pain, typical kids develop a protective
Guardian subself that can be called
This well-meaning personality specialist discovers that one
or more of the four kinds of addiction effectively
reduces current inner pain temporarily.
host person to medicate (distract) from their pain
via a toxic compulsion despite the reality that
doing so inexorably increases their
inner pain and stresses important other people.
low-nurturance childhood, and being controlled by a
false self which obsessively tries to help the person reduce their
inner pain via one or more locally-comforting rituals or
As inner pain increases, so
do unconscious attempts to self-medicate
it. This - and the painful social consequences
of self-medication - cause all true addictions to progress
through predictable stages.
progression cn take years to reach a conclusion. It's illustrated by variations of the
Curve used in many addiction-recovery programs.
Depending on many factors, the wounded person may eventually
and find a healthier way of managing their inner pain
(b) die prematurely.
Note that the Curve
originated when people
still felt that addiction was a personal problem
would be more appropriate to chart the predictable
changes in family dynamics as an addiction progresses -
reality distortion: denial, minimizing, and/or
rationalization of any problems,
and avoidance of any
hurts, resentments, guilts, and anger;
unsuccessful attempts to
confront the addict and/or co-addict and get them
increasing trouble in
and with one or more dependent kids,
legal, and/or financial problems, and possible psychological
or legal divorce; and...
one or more family
adults (a) hitting
true bottom and
starting to control (vs. cure) the addiction - and/or
(b) suffering possible major health
problems and premature death.
addictions develop physiological cravings which
intensify the toxic dependence - e.g. nicotine,
caffeine, some carbohydrates (?), and heroine. These are
cellular/hormonal reactions like hunger and sleepiness,
not psychological responses. Alcoholism has a genetic predisposition
- i.e. genetic alcoholics metabolize ethyl alcohol
(which powers car engines) differently than
About the 12 "Anonymous" Steps for Recovery...
12-step "Anonymous" program of life-principles,
spirituality, and supportive fellowship is consistently more effective than
other ways of controlling addictions ("sobriety"). This seems to be true because
the program offers self-reinforcing emphasis on breaking
protective denials + nurturing spirituality + giving up
control the uncontrollable (inner pain) + genuinely accepting self-responsibility for addictive
behaviors and consequences, and honestly apologizing
guilt) where possible.
tradition of protecting 12-step participants and
their families from social and religious censure by
"anonymity" (e.g. "Alcoholics
Anonymous")promotes the harmful myth that addiction is a shameful
personal choice - which encourages
12 Steps ignore
the key role that personality subselves and low-nurturance
environments play in promoting self-medicating
compulsions. That's (probably) why many addicts adopt
resume addictive rituals (relapse) despite
painful consequences and "knowing better."
amendment to the
Steps when you finish here.
(a) Choosing a more
nurturing environment and (b) intentionally stabilizing
(vs. "curing") an active addiction via an effective
12-step program for at least a year are essential
effective reduction of
wounds. Lesson 1
in this nonprofit Web site and its related
guidebook are about effective
wound (inner pain) reduction.
I propose that all true addictions are
caused by a person's ruling subselves trying to
self-medicate (mute) relentless inner pain by one or more
of four compulsive strategies.
(reduce inner pain)
short-term - and increase the
inner pain, long-term.
True addictions are a symptom of family
dysfunction (wounded, unaware
adults), not just a personal problem. If you're concerned
about someone who may be addicted, do these premises fit
what you know of their early and current lives and families?
Pause and reflect. How do these premises about addictions
compare with your beliefs? Who's answering - your
true Self (capital "S") or "someone else"?
An important element in understanding addicted families
is the concept of "co-addiction."
Since the advent
of family-systems therapy in the 1950's, society has begun to see that typical
addicts' mates ("co-addicts") grow predictable, psychologically-toxic traits
of their own. Three stand out:
Co-addicts typically grow their own
reality distortions (e.g. denials) about the addict's behavior and its harmful impacts ("Carl is a little
overzealous about sex, but he's certainly not addicted to it.")
This is probably so because wounded
of low-nurturance childhoods seem to instinctively pick
as partners and associates over and over again, until they hit bottom and commit to reducing their psychological wounds.
co-addicts become obsessed with the welfare and
behavior of their wounded partner. This is a symptom of the widespread
condition (vs. "disease") called
relationship addiction. Codependence is an unconscious compulsion that reduces
wholistic health of typical
family systems. The wholistic health of
dependent kids is being diminished by two or more wounded (addicted) caregivers,
not one. And...
a co-addict'stoxiccompulsion is owned and controlled
(vs. cured), they often
enable their addicted partners.
That is, they unintentionally promote the addiction's
progress by fearing to confront their partner on their harmful
limits ("Janice, trust me. If you go on
one more credit-card binge, I'm going to file for divorce and custody
of the kids.")
any addiction is
a family affliction, and (b) where there is an addict, there
is often a co-addict and/or enabler/s. The psychological
unawareness that promote
unendurable inner pain and
compulsive self-medication reduce family nurturance-levels. This inexorably
passes the inner pain and adaptive psychological
wounding on to the next generation.
Pause and reflect on what you just read. If there is an
"addict" or co-addict in your life, can you see that person
wounded survivor of childhood
trauma and major family dysfunction? Adopting that
view is the first step in offering meaningful help.
Have you wondered "How do I know if someone is
'addicted' or just 'overdoing (something
Symptoms of a True Addiction
This heading should really read "Symptoms of Compulsive
Self-medication for Significant Inner Pain." Stay
clear: the real question is: "What are
symptoms of significant psychological wounds?"
In the last
several generations, it's become clear that true
addictions (vs. "overdoing it") have observable symptoms like
The "addict" (Grown Wounded Child)
denies or discounts that they have a harmful compulsion, despite compelling
evidence; or they acknowledge "I may have a
problem," and find
they cannot stop their toxic self-medication ritual
despite repeated attempts to do so. ("I've tried to quit
smoking three times, and can't do it.") A related symptom is
that the person's relatives, friends, and coworkers may also
deny, minimize, and/or justify the toxic
compulsion and its harmful effects.
Common symptoms of an addictive relationship or
Enabling is avoiding painful, honest confrontations
with an addict about their self-destructive attitudes,
wounds, and behaviors.
This avoidance is often justified by a dedicated
Magician personality subself who insists persuasively that this is a caring way
of "not hurting the addict." Other protective
Guardian subselves may urge
putting off needed confrontations to avoid
get worse over timedespite increasingly painful results - unless the wounded
person hits true (vs. pseudo) bottom. The
Jellinek Curve illustrates this progression for all
four types of
addiction, not just alcoholism. Common progression themes are...
increasing denials, lies, avoidances,
and evasions - and denying and/or rationalizing
failed attempts to
reduce or stop the addiction/s ("relapses"), and/or evasions and
excuses for not trying to stop;
and/or denials of
inner pain in all family members, particularly shame + guilt + anxiety +
regret + frustration + confusion + hopelessness (despair).
These cause increasing worry, complaints, demands, and
conflicts with family members and associates;
"problems" like kids acting out,
psychological or legal divorce, loss of work, physical
and/or "mental illness",
financial problems, crime, etc. And for some people, a
key symptom is....
hitting bottom and
committing to true (vs. pseudo) addiction management - i.e.
permanent changes in attitudes, values, and behaviors that reduce
or stop the toxic self-medication ritual without adopting a new one; or....
addiction - "controlling" one
addiction (e.g. overeating), and starting and denying
another one (e.g. codependence). A widespread example of
cross addiction and group denial occurs in many 12-step
"Anonymous" meetings - e.g. haze of cigarette
smoke (substance addiction: nicotine), and an
always-full coffee pot (substance addiction: caffeine.)
Another common symptom of compulsive self-medication is...
Repeated cycles of
[ harmful and/or embarrassing behavior
> surges of guilt, shame, remorse, and
anxiety; > fervent vows to "never do it again!," because...
the underlying inner pain is the same
or greater, and...
family and social environment has probably not become more nurturing
the person relapses (repeats the toxic self-medication cycle)
despite earnest vows not to do so. This inevitably increases
self-scorn (shame), guilt, and hopelessness - and
other peoples' distrust and skepticism.
A fifth symptom
of true addiction is relentlessly-increasing stress
in and among family members, friends, and society; and declining
tolerances for addiction behaviors.
psychological wounds and
promote self-medication relentlessly erode self esteem, relationships, and families. This promotes
inheriting their ancestors' [wounds + ignorance]
and developing inner
pain and self-medications of
As this happens,
typical family members increase their false-self
behaviors. This causes significant secondary (surface) problems, which increases inner pain. A common dynamic
is to (fruitlessly) try to reduce the secondary problems
("You have to stop lying to me!") without
and filling the
that cause them ("Can I do something to make it
safer for you to tell
Discussions about addiction recovery often refer
to "hitting bottom." What is that?
(GWCs) eventually accumulate enough despair, weariness, and pain to
"hit bottom," often in mid-life. They break
long-held denials and distortions and admit "My life
is out of control," and "Iam
solely responsible for hurting other people by my
attitudes and behaviors, and for gaining control of my
Frequently, addicts experience "trial (preliminary)
bottoms" and relapses before hitting true bottom.Other
survivors of low-nurturance childhoods endure dissatisfying lives and
die prematurely without knowing why, or what they
might have done to improve their lives and guard their
descendents against wounding.
Assessing for Symptoms of Addiction
Typical people who care about (or are addicted to) an
addict are unaware of being hindered by their own
psychological wounds and ignorance. The best chance for
making an effective assessment about whether someone (or a family) is
"addicted" (wounded and ignorant) is to hire a
professional addictions counselor, tho they have wounds, biases, and
Unbiased assessment of the symptoms above requires (a)
true Self (capital "S"), and (b) factual knowledge of...
the [wounds + ignorance]
cycle and its main
effects on persons and families; and...
the person's progressive behaviors over some
months or years.
Do you have these requisites now?
To raise your odds of accurate addiction-assessment, (a)
professional addictions counselor, and (b) search the
Web for current addiction-assessment resources. An excellent
resource is the Hazelden
Institute. Tho it focuses on chemical addictions,
most of its resources apply to other toxic compulsions as well.
Another useful resource is
Expect any "addiction recovery" resources (including all
12-step programs) to (a) not know about personality
subselves and psychological wounds, and (b) to label
addiction as a personal "disease" instead of a symptom of
We just reviewed the common symptoms of a true addiction,
and perspective on hitting bottom and addiction-assessment. Now let's explore an
often-overlooked recovery factor:
Your Language Can
Hurt or Help
Premise - How people
(like you) think, speak, and write about "addiction" and
"addiction recovery" can help or hinder them. For many people, the
words addict, addiction, addicted to, and
addictive personality automatically evoke pity, scorn, shame, and associations
with sickness, disease, impairment,
distrust, disgust, scorn, and pity. Is this true of you? These unconscious
associations can significantly hinder managing your or
someone else's toxic
less evocative and more accurate terms like wounded, compulsion, and self-medicating,
as in "Maria is self-medicating her inner wounds (or inner
pain) by compulsive shopping." Notice how that feels
compared to "Maria is a shopaholic."
unaware, wounded ancestors looked to doctors to "cure"
alcoholism, so we have inherited their misconception that an
addiction is a
disease. Diseases are malfunctioning cells and
organs caused by "chemical imbalances," environmental
toxins, and germs.
These do not apply to addictions, which
are a psychological/spiritual symptom of
inner pain +
- alcoholism has a genetic predisposition). The risk in reflexively thinking
and saying "I'm addicted - I have a disease." is psychological.
People who feel they are sick are apt to feel less
good or whole than "healthy people." This promotes
("What if my disease gets worse? What if I can't heal it?")
Shame and anxiety amplify the inner pain
wounded people are trying to reduce.
Unfortunately, most current
12-step "Anonymous" literature, teaching, and programs ignorantly
harmful misconception that addictions are an individual disease
rather than a symptom of major family
More helpful terms are...
wounded vs. addicted,
wounds vs. character defect,
condition vs. disease,
trial bottom vs. relapse, and...
(or "self-medication") vs. "addiction."
People who resist changing their terminology probably
deny they're wounded and ruled by a false self.
The phrase addiction recoverycan be misleading,
because it implies that self-medicating people "get over"
compulsion, like regaining sight after temporary blindness.
A more factual
term to use is addiction management. - e.g. "Pat is
trying to manage (vs. recover from) her overeating
The real issue is
psychological wounds and related inner
pain, not focusing on compulsive self-medication.
Addicts who hit true
and accept their wounds and subselves can learn to
reduce inner pain by freeing their true Self to guide them.
here shows how to do this.
Using the term sobriety for non-alcoholic addictions
(e.g. "I've been sober from my sexual addiction for 11
months") risks unconscious associations with harmful biases about alcoholism - e.g. shame, guilt, and disease.
more neutral language choice is "I haven't acted on..." as in
"I haven't acted on my sexual compulsion for 11 months now."
note the implication of the term
in the title of typical 12-step addiction-recovery programs
and materials (e.g. "Codependents Anonymous").
This label came from the old misperception that alcoholism
came from a shameful "weak will," surrender to the Devil, and/or "moral weakness." Our ignorant
ancestors taught each other that
addiction could be "cured" by willpower, moral righteousness,
and being "humble and God fearing." Not true.
Would you say that being depressed, rageful, or
having a sleep disorder is "shameful"?
self-medicate inherited inner pain deserves compassion and
caring confrontation, not scorn or pity!
Premise - personal, family, and societal
health would be better served if 12-step policy-makers and members agreed to update their organizational titles to
something less inherently shaming, like "codependents
United" or equivalent. What do you think?
Recap - intentionally choosing
emotionally-neutral terms to discuss addictions and recovery can
help people and their families manage an addiction successfully. Ignoring your
hindering someone's recovery because of unconscious assumptions and
word-associations. On a scale of one (I strongly disagree)
to 10 (I strongly agree), where do you stand on this premise
You've just read what an addiction is, four types of
addiction, what causes them, typical addiction symptoms, co-addiction,
and useful terminology options. Now we'll explore...
perspective on true and
pseudo addiction recovery,
status check, and
confronting an addict and/or enabler.
Recall why you began reading this. Has anything changed?
Before continuing, do you need a break?
You've probably heard or read about recovery from an
addiction. What is that?.
True and Pseudo Addiction "Recovery"
Reality - some "addicts"
(Grown Wounded Children) can stop their compulsive behaviors and "stinking
thinking" (self-destructive attitudes and beliefs).
Others can't. Many factors combine to explain why this is
so for a particular person and family. A comprehensive
description of these factors is beyond the scope of this
article. Here are some key things to consider:
of personalwound-reduction are...
pseudo or trial
preliminary (addiction) recovery, and...
full (inner-wound) recovery.
recovery traits are...
observable lasting changes
in basic priorities and attitudes, usually including a
meaningful relationship with a
avoidance of the
addictive thinking and behaviors; and usually...
committing to some version
of the 12-step principles as daily-life guides.
Some people can achieve these
without attending an in-patient treatment program and/or a
12-step program, and others can't. Variables that determine this
wounds and addiction-effects (moderate
to unbearable), plus...
the degree of the person's
wounding (minor to massive),
the nurturance-levels of the
person's home + family + work + community environment
(low to high)
survivors of a
low-nurturance childhood stop their compulsive
behaviors but (a) start a compensating
they (b) do not really adopt
the 12 steps in their daily lives. This suggests that the
person's ruling subselves are pretending to
"recover" without giving up their protective
and self-medicating rituals.
Usually people who have not hit true
some form of this
pseudo recovery, which may or may not lead to one or
relapses to their old compulsive behaviors and
denials and/or justifications. ("Becky has started
Premise - pseudo recovery is
caused by [unendurable inner pain + denial of psychological wounds + an
between subselves who want to recover and those who are
This can change if the person hits true bottom and commits
to some form of
'parts work.' Pseudo addiction-recovery
can be viewed as a useful step toward hitting true
bottom rather than a "failure."
Premise - most
(all?) relapses are really caused by the person (a) not
true bottom first, and (b) not committing to permanently
reduce their inner pain by
freeing their resident
true Self, harmonizing their team of
personality subselves, and improving the nurturance-level of their
relationships, home, religious community, and
workplace or school.
Most lay and professional people don't know or accept this
the cause of the four addictions and how to "treat" that cause. The
good news is, acceptance is slowly growing. The bad news is - minor kids in addicted families are still
psychological wounds and ignorance.
practical ideas on how to break this tragic bequest, see
this article after you
+ + +
To see if you're ready to apply the
get undistracted and try this...
See where you are now. T = "true;" F = "false,
and ? = "I'm not sure," or "It depends on (what?)"
I accept that _ a true
addiction is a symptom low family nurturance, so
_ addiction is a
family problem, not
just a personal
addiction management is much more likely if the
family changes, not just the addict. (T F ?)
I believe addicts are psychologically
and cannot control their compulsive self-medicating without human help and spiritual faith. They
are not weak-willed, sick,
immoral, a "loser," a sinner, or
irresponsible. (T F ?)
clearly describe what
inner pain is, and how it relates to personality subselves.
(T F ?)
I can clearly describe _ what
is, and _ what needs it serves in an addict’s family. (T F ?)
describe at least four of the common
traits of a true addiction now. (T F ?)
describe the main difference between preliminary
(addiction) recovery and full (psychological-wound)
recovery, and why the former is required for the
latter. (T F ?)
I accept that having
"an addictive personality" really means "having a
disabled true Self, (being
controlled by a false self), and not knowing this or
what to do about it". (T F ?)
describe _ the difference between
religion and spirituality,
and _ what it means to have an active relationship with a
benign, responsive Higher Power (T F ?)
If you can't confidently answer "True" to each of these
statements yet, invest time and energy in studying self-improvement
Now we're ready to apply these addiction fundamentals to
people you care about - starting with you.
If you feel
may be - or are - significantly wounded and addicted, study
thisfor recovery options. Otherwise, read on...
Another Person's Addiction
you're concerned about an addicted child, go here. The
following applies to adults.
or avoid confronting the
other person, and deny or justify this; or...
research how to confront ("intervene") effectively, and then
Let's look at each of these
Typical wounded people who haven't
hit bottom are
ruled by subselves who are scared to admit (a) a toxic
and its causes and effects, and (b) implications (like "I am really wounded,
and need to heal!" Their degree of combined fear + guilt + shame will determine the degree of
"resistance" they have (low to high) to even the most loving confrontation.
Your near-sighted subselves will probably have anxieties about confronting
someone about their wounds and addiction. For
example, they may cause thoughts like..."But
what if s/he...
rejects me ("Mind your own
business!) and shuts me out?"
rages, screams and yells,
gets physical, or runs away?"
has a breakdown?"
blames me for their
wounds and addiction?"
attacks me about things I
don't want to face?"
Your subselves' fears and
uncertainties may be
intense enough to overcome your true Self's desire to confront (a) the reality of
familydysfunction and (b) the addicted person. Your protective
Guardian subselves may
one or more strategies like these...
Deny:: "S/He is not really addicted!"
Minimize: "S/He seems
to be addicted, but it's not that bad."
"It's really best if I don't risk confronting (the other person) now (or
ever) because..."; and/or...
Analyze, intellectualize, and
rationalize: "Let me (numb my feelings, and) figure out why
Worry privately or publicly all the
time: anxiously repeat a stream of awful scenarios in your mind, but say or
do nothing about them. A toxic variation of this is for your false self to become
addicted to (codependent on) your addict.
personality subselves may…
Whine, complain, and/or plead with the
target person to "do something" about their behaviors or habits for
sake and/or affected minor kids - but set no limits or consequences. Your
can choose to be a victim (1-down), persecutor (1-up), or rescuer (1-up)
Try to manipulate and control
the other person to change her or his priorities and behavior
- e.g. "hide the
bottle," get someone to "talk to" the person, lay on guilt trips, withhold,
threaten (but don’t follow through), etc.
strategies to justify deferring a confrontation may include...
Criticizing, ridiculing, and/or blaming
the person privately or publicly: "I can't believe how thoughtless and selfish
Lecturing, moralizing, and/or preaching: "Let
me tell you what you have to do, and why..."; and/or...
Punishing: "If you're going to treat
me/us that way, I'll (make you hurt)."; and/or you can...
Obsess and feel responsible: "I
must fix this awful, scary problem!" and/or “I must be doing
something wrong!”; and/or...
Avoid ("cut off") the other person and/or situations that cause you
about them, and deny this and/or pretend you haven't pulled back; and/or you can...
Pray for a miracle and fantasize about the person "suddenly waking up to reality;"; and/or...
Repress your feelings and needs,
and stoically endure: "Well, that's just the way it is. Look at the
good things we have…"
like these aim to...
reduce anxiety about admitting the other person's toxic compulsion and it's impacts,
avoid scary confrontations and conflicts.
Strategies like these
unintentionally increase(enable) the addicted family's long-term problems and
Ideally, one of
you will exceed your tolerance-limit for pain, weariness,
and hopelessness, and break your protective denials. This is more likely if
true Self (capital "S") leads your
When you're ready to assert your opinions and needs
to the addicted person, then...
2) Prepare to
risks making family dynamics worse. Options:
Put your own
wound-recovery ahead of helping other people, unless
their life is at risk now.
your true Self
of your other subselves. Your odds of a
successful confrontation with the other person/s are
best with your Self solidly guiding you.
on psychological wounds, the [wounds + ignorance] cycle,
codependence, enabling, the 12-step philosophy and
resources, and the concept of
intervention - a respectful group-confrontation with
a true addict in denial (next page).
Stay clear that any "addiction" is a symptom of the
ignorance + inner pain + a disabled
true Self + (probably) a low-nurturance environment.
Work to (a) maintain a
attitude, and (b) sharpen your
skills. Use these when the other person denies,
evades, attacks you, and/or justifies their compulsion,
rather than using these popular lose-lose
personal Rights in mind,
and practice setting and enforcing your personal
- in general, and with the other person. Stay
clear: you are not responsible for the wounded adult's
choices and consequences - s/he is. Strong urges to
or "save" the person (other than your own child) may
signal that a false-self dominates you. Keep these wise
with you along the way...
your attitude about personal
spirituality. Successful addiction and wound recovery
is most likely with steady faith in a benign (vs.
demanding, wrathful, jealous, and punitive) Higher Power. If you and/or the other person have no
meaningful spiritual awareness or faith, lower your
and keep exploring.
specifically how the other person's
behavior affects you and other people you care about.
Confronting another person about an addiction is usually
altruistic and selfish - i.e. the other person
committing to addiction recovery will fill some unmet
primary needs in
More confrontation-preparation options...
someone as a
gift to both of you. Do the words confront
and confrontation feel "negative" (cause you anxiety)?
Confronting is another term for
your opinions and needs, and negotiating healthy changes
as teammates. If your Self (capital "S") is
and you're fluent in effective communication
you'll be able to handle the other person's reactions to
your assertions calmly and respectfully.
very clear on why you need to confront the other person. Do you
informhim or her of your concern, and/or some
action you're going to take because of their
behavior? And/or to...
request or demand that s/he (must want to)
Effective demands require you to define and enforce a
specific consequence if the person doesn't comply.
do you need to...
problem-solve together? - i.e. to invite the person to help change
something abut your shared environment (like
your family relationships, roles, or dynamics)?;
(ideas and information) which may bloom at a future
If the person does break their protective
denials and start preliminary recovery, that's a
recognize pseudo or "trial" recovery.
It is a creative attempt by well-meaning subselves to pretend to be managing an addiction, but
not making any permanent
changes in core attitudes or pain-management strategies.
Typical people who
(resume their toxic behaviors) have not hit their
true "bottom," and have usually been in pseudo recovery.
Inform other relevant people of these
preparation-options, and ask for their
means other people who live and/or work with the
person you're concerned about - like parents,
grandparents, siblings, close friends, therapists,
(ex) mates, clergy, doctors, and co-workers. As you do this, be alert
for signs of
Wounded people are
often unable (vs. unwilling) to provide effective
professional addiction counselor to increase your
odds of confronting successfully. Ask their
opinion about if, when, and how to do an "intervention"
with your target adult. This powerful
option is outlined on the next page.
Recall that all these are ways of preparing yourself to
confront an addicted person and/or any enablers. If these options seem like a lot of work - they are!The potential long-term benefits of a successful
confrontation justify the effort. Pause and notice what your subselves
thinking and feeling now
about these options.
As you prepare, keep in mind that
- inner pain + psychological wounds + unawareness. Few addicts or lay or
professional supporters know this or what to do about it.