by Annette Hill
So, here you are… again. Any of this sound familiar: “How does this keep happening? He/she promised the last time was the last time!” “What am I doing wrong? What’s wrong with me? He/she says it’s because I do/say (fill in the blank) that he/she acts this way. Is it really my fault?”
This is the maddening and cyclic world of being close to someone who has an addiction. Add Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) to the mix and your world is even more chaotic and unpredictable. To learn more about the these diagnoses, see the “PTSD” page in the “Resources” area of this website. The term “PTS” will be used here forward.
At Warriors Heart, we know that it is not enough to just treat the client. Time and attention need to be given to the loved ones. The family members and support systems of our nation’s military and first responders suffer greatly as well. Sometimes they too present with their own symptoms of PTS stemming from fears that their service member or first responder will be seriously injured or die in the line of duty. Or the family member may have symptoms of PTS due to being personally threatened during a rage attack from their loved one.
Research shows that the addict’s sobriety is more holistic and sustained when the family system becomes involved in the recovery process. That is not to say your loved one will be willing, initially, to include you in their treatment process, for often the addict embodies a great deal of shame for their behavior and for not being able to remain in control. Because you are not immune from being hurt and, likely, altered by what you have experienced, you are also not except from needing to to heal and grow.
Help Is Here
There are many private and public resources out there to begin to help the loved one of an addict. For instance, Al-Anon is a great resource and you might find a sense of validation by attending their meetings or by taking the “How do you know if you are affected by someone’s drinking” assessment on their website.
While in the safe and caring environment of Warriors Heart, your loved one will be stabilized, assessed and then begin the process understanding the full implication of their unhealthy coping strategies. Over the course of treatment they will learn and practice the necessary tools to gain personal insight, relate to others in a healthy way again, and move into recovery from addiction. This includes changing the interactions and reactions within the family/support system. Both the addict and family/supports will need to address ineffective styles of communication, boundary regulation, resentments, and interruption of hopes and dreams. Changes will need to be made in how the family operates going forward.
Change, even good change, can seem like a scary process. Sometimes we become oddly comfortable in the predictability of the insanity. “At least I know what’s coming,” we falsely think. As Gotye’s lyrics go, “We can become addicted to a certain kind of sadness.” In fact, some family members may even become invested in their addict remaining unhealthy. These are all areas to be examined and healed.
There is hope for healing and we are here to help. The team members at Warriors Heart are uniquely skilled in treating veterans, first responders and those who love them. We are here to listen when you are ready to reach out.