This sums up my feelings pretty well

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by toughlovin, May 23, 2019.

  1. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    This came through on my facebook feed from David Sheff who wrote Beautiful Boy. It really resonated with me and is the view I have come to over the years. Thought I would share. TL
    "I did what they told me. 'He has to hit bottom.' 'You gotta practice tough love.' I said I can't help you and he went out. ODed. Dead. Did he hit bottom? Was my love tough enough?"

    That's part of a letter from a dad.

    We do not want someone who's sick to hit bottom. We want to catch them, hold them. This is a progressive disease and we don't want it to get worse. The worse it gets, the more debilitation and dire consequences, including death.

    Intervene. At least try. Don't listen to those who make you feel guilty for trying to help someone who's ill - as if your instincts to love are wrong -- "enabling." It's true that some responses are counterproductive. Get help if you're confused and don't know how to respond.

    She's on the street. "Don't help. She has to hit bottom." No, you don't want her on the street. It's too dangerous. There's only so much you can do, but you're not wrong for trying to get her safe. You aren't enabling. You may be saving her life.

    It's not easy to know what to do. Get help navigating a fraught situation; there are no answers appropriate for every person, every family. Some behaviors _are_ enabling (giving money, for example; they say doing so is like giving a gun to someone who's suicidal.)

    But offering love and support isn't enabling. Keeping them safe (as much as you can) isn't enabling. Trying to encourage/guide a person into treatment isn't enabling. There's help. Check out CRAFT (it's online). There are people trained to help.

    Try to the extent you can. Take care of yourself on the way-it can be a long hard journey. Sometimes no matter what you do people won't make it. This is a terrible disease. But when there's life there's hope. Don't give up.
  2. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Me too
  3. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Thank you TL.
  4. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    TL, I agree that you have to do what helps you get through having a loved one with this terrible disease. However, I can't think of a single case on this board where the addict/alcoholic got better until the parent backed away and let the loved one figure things out and suffer the consequences of their addiction.

    Giving our loved ones love and support without enabling is not easy to do. Addicts are master manipulators and always seem to figure out a way to get what they want from us using things like food, housing, and medical care as their leverage. They know we love them and are worried about them and they use that love as a weapon.

    It is such a fine line to walk.

  5. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    I agree it is a very fine line to walk. Through alanon I have met some parents who have lost their kids to this disease.

    I know for me, I started off with a tough love approach and my son lived homeless in winter in Denver for 3 months. We have always helped when he was willing to help himself. I am convinced though that if we had not been there for him he would be dead by now.

    I think too often people are told they have to let their loved ones hit bottom, the problem is for some the bottom is death.

    Granted there are still many ups and downs with my son and I cannot say he is in complete recovery. Truth is there are people who never get completely sober. I hope my son is not in that category but he might be. However I dont think completely turning my back on him would get him sober....I think things would get worse until he died.

    And in fact he is doing better. I dont believe he is using heroin at this point, and although he does drink at times and smoke pot it is not all the time. He is actually working at the moment and he got As in both classed he took at community college (this is a kid who has never gotten an A in a class in his life).

    Obviously I would like him to be completely sober but I realize I have absolutely no control over that, and my getting tougher with him is not going to accommplish that either.

    In our case I think being there for him, continuing to let him know we love him is what is helping him in his own way at least improve. We also do have boundaries about how we help and there is no way I would have him live at home again.

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  6. BusynMember

    BusynMember Active Member

    I agree. I love Kay so dearly. We lived her every single day and to keep her feeling safe and valued we bought her cars, a two bedroom home to save her from homelessness, then a mobile home after she quit her job and lost the house, psychiatrists, the world until we ran out of money. Do we want her dead? No!!!!!. We text her love even when she answers back nastily or blocks us.

    But we are done pressuring her to do anything no matter what. If she and Lee find themselves without a home after all our help, then either Lee's family will have to pay the price of a new place or they will be homeless. Baby Jaden will always have a place to stay, but possibly not them.

    While we will never ever withdraw our obvious love for our daughter, she is 32 and we are done finding her places to stay that she doesn't see any need for, rehab or mental health units, both which we would dig in and pay for. Kay thinks it is insulting to even suggest either type of help. She wants rent money. No more is possible from us.

    Kay expresses suicidal ideation a lot. Ideation with no plan has never gotten her a 72 hour evaluation. I feel she is more serious about suicide than she lets anyone know. Even so, since she refuses to admit the depth of her issues, she could just do it one day with no warning. It is our deepest fear. But there is nothing we can do. She wants us to leave her alone, not to keep trying to convince her to get help that she insists she doesn't need. See, we are crazy, not her. We never used the word crazy. But she say we think she is, but its really us. Just pay next month's rent or eff off and get out of her life.

    I am so glad that Nic Sheff was able to be saved and is gracious enough to help others, bless him. I do not think all of us parents can save our kids. Even if we never stop trying and in our case we have and are being told to by Kay to get lost. There is no communication except her yelling at us or blocking us. She insists on rock bottoms and has had many.

    I wish all of us could save our children from our greatest fear. We cant or I believe we all would. I give it to God.!
  7. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I think there is a distinction between setting boundaries in order to influence their behavior as opposed to making boundaries to not be harmed by them. There is a gray area. When we feel ourselves to be inadequate to deal with the pain. When our coping capacity is insufficient to deal with the reality of how they live their lives.

    New Leaf has a thread now, that is around this topic. I don't want to get into what she feels or thinks, but I relate entirely.

    It is wrong to let yourself be destroyed by anybody.

    I don't think suffering helps anybody. Suffering does not help our kids. But our suffering does not help them either.
  8. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    TL, I am not sure there is that much difference between you and me. You have strong boundaries and won't let your son live at home. Many parents are not able to do that.

    I do worry when you seem to blame the death of loved ones on parents exercising tough love. Before my husband and I were able to set and stick to boundaries, my daughter was living in our home and overdosed on our couch from heroin. I have told the story many times but the EMT's said that if my husband had walked in the house two minutes later she would have died.

    We thought we were being supportive parents. We required her to have a part-time job and attend IOP twice a week. We were paying out of pocket for a very expensive program. During all of this, she was shooting heroin into her arms and we didn't even know it. Sadly, by letting her live with us, she was able to avoid paying for rent and food and used the part-time income to buy drugs instead.

    I guess my point is that our kids can die from drugs whether we are practicing tough love or letting them live in our homes. The drugs can kill in any circumstances. My therapist often pointed out that we couldn't change our daughter's behavior but we also didn't have to pay for it. I told her that I was scared to set firm boundaries and expect her to become a functioning adult because I was scared that she would die. The therapist's response was that we had to face that it might happen but there was nothing we could do to stop if as long as our daughter was using heroin and abusing benzos and alcohol.
  9. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    Kathy thanks for your comments. And oh my goodness I definitely dont mean to sound like I am blaming parents for their kids OD deaths. I definitely don’t. You are absolutely right an OD can happen anywhere including our own homes. In no way do I think parents are responsible when their kids OD. The hard fact about drug addiction is that it kills way too often and that is the reality we as parents have to live with, our kids may die no matter what we do.

    I think what I am reacting to is the many people who are so ready to just tell you “you are enabling” when you try in some way to help your kid. Sometimes this is from people who havent been there. I think every parent has to find that fine line balance of what is right for them and their kid.

    Copa that distinction you rtalk about it, is exactly right. For me their is a big difference in setting a boundary trying to make my son do something versus setting a boundary so that I am safe or comfortable in what I am doing. One thing I have come to realize is that my sons drug use is his own doing and own choice that I have no control over whatsoever. For him to be in full recovery is totally up to him to do when he is ready to do it. I can’t make him ready....gosh I have tried.

    So for me I see a difference between kicking a kid out of the house because you know they are using drugs outside of your home and you disapprove and want them to stop and so kick them out to try and make them stop..... and kicking a kid out of the house who is using drugs, but is bringing illegal drugs into your home, is stealing from you and is basically making you miserable from his terrible behavior. In the second case I dont think having this kid live with you si good for you or for them.....the first time we kicked our son out his behavior was out of control, flagrantly violating all rules and then he threatened me. I felt that the message I was sending my letting him stay was that there were no consequences for that kind of behavior and that is just not true in life. I have no regrets about kicking him out then.

    A few years later he did live with us again.... and we hated having him here and he was using heroin by that time. We finally did help him find a cheap place to live because we needed our home back....after he left I discovered he had stolen the silver my father gave me for a wedding present. That changed some things for me and I dont want him to ever live with me again. It comes down to trust. I love my son but I dont trust him and I dont want to live with someone I dont trust.

    To enable or not enable, to help or not help is a very fine line to walk for all of us.

  10. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Hi all, this is the hardest thing to bare witness to the self destruction of an addicted love one. Caught up in the craziness of it all, trying to stop a train wreck. We have all tried so many times to offer assistance to help our adult children.
    Tough love.
    How difficult it is to walk this journey.
    I was reading articles from CRAFT and rethinking no contact, trying to figure out how to connect with my daughters without enabling, without getting sucked back in to rescue mode.
    Hit in the face with reality.
    The reality that my twos choices have put them into some very, very bad situations, with some very shady characters.
    I have had to rethink my desire to reconnect, because it puts me, my home and well family into a dangerous arena. I don’t belong there. I don’t believe my daughters do either, but it is their choice.
    I never wanted them to hit rock bottom, but do realize there was nothing I could have done to prevent them from choosing to go there, not less drill beneath it. I guess rock bottom is defined by how much degradation each individual is willing to tolerate for their high. My two seem to have a tolerance for extremes. Again, my monkeys, not my circus.
    I have had to rethink my idea of trying to create connection by periodically visiting the park area where Rain is. She lives a dangerous life, with sordid street friends.
    What CRAFT leaves out, is the suffering families with addicted loved ones endure. The chaos and drama, sleepless nights, theft. Not just theft of material things, theft of time, peace of mind, and health due to the stress of witnessing your loved one cascade into an abyss. Yes, the streets are dangerous and we don’t want our loved ones out there. For my two and many others, it is a choice. If I had the money to get a place for them, I wouldn’t. They would trash it. Like every other opportunity they have had. The cold, hard reality I am dealing with is that meth has got them like a demon possession. So, I am back to square one, realizing that my love cannot save them, and I cannot and will not jeopardize my health and sanity by jumping into the line of fire.
    I suppose I will go through many flip flops in how I deal with this. What snapped me back into reality was my daughter casually mentioning her boyfriend was imprisoned for revenge murder. Murder! My dear Lord! Her sister, recently released from jail is again on the streets and thieving from her homeless friends. It is an ugly, dangerous mess they have created for themselves.
    I don’t judge anyone for the choices they make in dealing with addicted loved ones. Who knows when a person will decide to stop the insanity and find their potential. Some parents are able to get their adult kids to rehab. That is awesome.
    At this point in time, with years of meth use in their system, the violent tendencies, lack of judgment, psychosis, all of that bodes me to stay the course and limit contact.
    My stance is that they put themselves in a very unsafe world, which makes connecting unsafe for myself and my household.
    I love them, but I won’t be able to be around them, until they decide to pull up and out of the hell they have surrounded themselves with.
    That’s the reality of our situation.
    For now.
    Love and best wishes to all.
    Rebuilding my armor.
    One day at a time.
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  11. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    My son as far as I know has not used hard drugs. Marijuana and psychedelics, yes.

    When I kicked out my son he was not using anything, consistently. He gave the appearance of normal. He looked pretty clean cut.

    The hoody, the marijuana, the homelessness, the volatility were still to come.

    Did I create that? Had I found a way to motivate him could this all have been averted? I don't know. Maybe so. I listened to people that J only had to face reality and grow up. And he would do that by having to respond to real world contingencies. I was wrong.

    In retrospect I wish I had done what SWOT did, arrange a support system. Up front acknowledge that her son needed SDI/SSI. But would my son have accepted this, as did Sonic who seems cooperative and tractable? I don't know.

    The thing is this isn't over until it's over. My son has an independent streak. (That is he wants to call the shots while relying upon the good will and resources of somebody else.)
    From my work in prisons, I know that all of this can be turned around. What lingers is the psychosis, but in time that dissipates for most. Their humanity returns. And with it great shame and regret. And quite often, the intention to live well.

    And I see people in my community who have recovered. I know it happens. The catalysts, seem to be something severe and serious.
    I think this is wise. Accepting reality.

    From what I have heard about with CRAFT (remember LBL's son was involved with Craft until he was able to get into that program, and remember how frustrated she was and how hard it was, he was abusive and defiant and out of control in her house, and stole from them--and that was over a period of a months, and he was only 18)...your girls are WOMEN. More than twice his age. Nobody is saying to not be kind, to be open to change. But to be consumed. To be destroyed. Who does this serve?

    You have children and grandchildren, New Leaf. How could you put them in the circumstance of further involvement with this man, in particular, however peripheral? I don't see how.
  12. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    leafy- what you say makes total sense. I really think our first priority has to be our own safety both physical and emotional. In general I dont think we should do anything that risks our own safety or that of the other non addict family members.
  13. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Poignant post Leafy. Sigh, brings back memories. Not good ones. I'm so sorry.

    Quite a number of years ago, when my daughter was at the peak of her craziest, most intense and dramatic time, hanging with sketchy, scary characters.......people I deemed "dangerous.".....I made the same choice you're was so hard, but like you, I had a young girl, my granddaughter, living with us AND my mother for awhile and I felt it necessary to protect my family from my daughter's choices and the people she was hanging out with. It's such a tough choice and has to be made.

    I respect your choice and recognize the strength and also vulnerability that choice entails. Hang in there Leafy, be so kind to your precious self.....this is a rough road we travel here. Many hugs to you.