The untimely and tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman reminds us that regardless of intellect, talent or success—no one is immune from the devastating effects of the disease of addiction. Addiction is a disease that leads to hijacking of the brain, and in the process causes profound loss of reasoning. Surely Hoffman did not imagine his relapse would lead to the loss of his life and devastation to his family and friends.
I have worked with thousands of families and young people suffering from the impact of chemical addiction. With few exceptions, these individuals and families delayed calling for help—either because of the overwhelming shame that something so unacceptable was taking hold of their family, or denial that it was bad enough to need help. Many are afraid that asking for help is a badge of dishonor. The fear and shame trick us into repression, thus allowing the disease of addiction to take hold. We don’t share it at work, with our social circles or our church. It’s kept in the dark and people get sicker. Like cancer, if we ignore it when it is in stage one, it is sure to grow to stage two.
Even though substance abuse starts with a bad choice it continues for other reasons. Alcohol and drugs are powerful. They cause physical and emotional damage in young people’s lives at a faster rate than adults. It’s never too soon to get help. There is hope because we know from experience that the early interruption of substance use is imperative in preventing further destruction.
In San Antonio one approach that has worked to address the cycle of addiction is intervention with young adults 24 years old and under. San Antonio is the 19th most generous city in the nation. Most important — have an open heart when you encounter a young person who needs help.
Hoffman had a disease and was blessed with 23 productive and purposeful years of remission. His death should not diminish hope for recovery. Far better for us to use it as a reminder that apathy, shame and judgment can and will open the door to relapse. Let us not forget that there are 23 million Americans in long-term recovery. Few choose Hoffman’s fate. His was the life of an addict. It wasn’t bad behavior. It wasn’t the failed war on drugs. It was the simple fact that relapse does happen. It is imperative that as a community we embrace those afflicted and for those of us in recovery to always remember to stay active, purposeful and mindful of the gift of another day.
25 Tips Parents Should Know About Substance Abuse
1. Alcohol and drugs are powerful. They cause more physical and emotional damage in young people’s lives at a faster rate than adults.
2. You cannot isolate your child from this issue. Social tolerance of drug use is far more prevalent than when you were a teenager.
3. Good parents can end up with a child on drugs. Don’t let shame or embarrassment stop you from asking questions and seeking help. In most cases you did not do this to them.
4. No one is immune. Just because your child is involved in church, sports or gets good grades doesn’t mean he/she won’t abuse drugs or alcohol.
5. Teenagers are peer oriented. Positive peer pressure can be just as powerful as negative peer pressure.
6. Educate yourself. The more you know about drugs and alcohol, you’ll be better equipped to respond.
7. Marijuana is far more potent than it was 20 years ago. Just because you tried it and turned out okay, does not mean your child will be okay.
8. Many over-the-counter medications and various household products can be used to get high. These include cold and flu medications, aerosol deodorants, and even alkaline batteries.
9. If your child experiments with cigarette smoking, it does not mean he/she will progress to drug & alcohol abuse, but it should open a dialogue about the subject.
10. Consider the long-term effects of substance abuse-and the message you are sending-before allowing your child to have a drink or smoke cigarettes in your presence.
11. Substance abuse starts with a bad choice, but continues for other reasons. Chemical dependency is an illness. Respond to it as such.
12. Don’t take it lightly! Experimenting with alcohol & drugs is not a part of normal adolescent behavior.
13. If you suspect your child may be using alcohol or other drugs don’t be afraid to act. In the beginning an over reaction is far better than doing nothing.
14. When a child starts using, they stop maturing emotionally and socially.
15. Standard parenting and discipline techniques may not be the best way to deal with substance abuse.
16. Don’t be afraid to pursue the issue. Searching rooms, confrontation and setting limits is okay. Hard evidence is not necessary to seek an assessment.
17. You can’t rationalize with an irrational person. If your child is using, chances are they are irrational.
18. A drug screen is not always conclusive. They can be easily tainted and only test for certain substances.
19. Focusing on “why” keeps you in the problem and does not provide solution.
20. There is a difference between enabling and helping. Let your child experience natural consequences.
21. Substance abuse affects the entire family. Research shows that there is an 80% greater chance of success in recovery when the family is actively involved throughout the process.
22. Communicate with other parents. You’ll find that your situation is not unique, and that recovery is possible.
23. Communication involves listening. Try actively listening to your child rather than “fixing” them.
24. It’s never too soon to get help. Early intervention can and does work.
25. Seek a professional opinion. They can provide an objective assessment.
Rise Recovery provides no cost and confidential assistance at (210) 227-2634.
Enabling behavior is born out of our instinct for love. It’s only natural to want to help someone we love, but when it comes to certain problems — helping is like throwing a match on a pool of gas.
Definition of Enabling
In the true sense of the word, to enable is to supply with the means, knowledge, or opportunity to be or do something — to make feasible or possible. In it’s true form, then, Enabling behavior means something positive. It’s our natural instinct to reach out and help someone we love when they are down
or having problems. However, when we apply it to certain problems in living – addiction, chronic financial trouble, codependency, certain forms of chronic depression — enabling behaviors have the reverse effect of what is intended. Here are some examples…
- Repeatedly bailing them out – of jail, financial problems, other “tight spots” they get themselves into
- Giving them “one more chance” – …then another…and another
- Ignoring the problem – because they get defensive when you bring it up oryour hope that it will magically go away
- Joining them in the behavior when you know they have a problem with it -Drinking, gambling, etc.,
- Joining them in blaming others – for their own feelings, problems, and misfortunes
- Accepting their justifications, excuses and rationalizations – “I’m destroying myself with alcohol because I’m depressed”.
- Avoiding problems – keeping the peace, believing a lack of conflict will help
- Doing for them what they should be able to do for themselves
- Softening or removing the natural consequences of the problem behavior
- Trying to “fix” them or their problem
- Repeatedly coming to the “Rescue”
- Trying to control them or their problem
Enabling Behavior — the Addiction of the Codependent
The need for an external focus, along with other lessons of childhood prepare a person for addiction to enabling behavior. Take a look at how the signs of addiction match the signs of codependency.
- Relief Using or Enabling – Comfort eating, spending, working or “helping” someone with their problem in order to avoid an internal focus.
- Increase in Tolerance – for the behaviors of the problem person.
- Preoccupation – with the problem person or persons
- Loss of Control – over emotions or behavior (Excessive eating, yelling at the
- Continued Use (of enabling behavior) Despite Serious Negative
- Consequences – to yourself as well as them
Middle or “Crucial” Stage
- Family Problems – Drama Triangle or the variation below (Punishment/Forgiveness Cycle)
- Social Problems – Embarrassment, avoiding parties where they may be “too much temptation” for your partner.
- Emotional Problems – Depression, anxiety, chronic stress
- Financial Problems
- Legal Problems – Domestic disturbances
- Occupational or Academic Problems – Loss of concentration due to preoccupation with the problem person or persons
Late or “Chronic” Stage
- Physical Deterioration – headaches, stomach problems, stress disorders, etc
- Serious Physical Withdrawal Syndrome – cannot stay away after a break-up or separation
- Obsession – preoccupation increases until it takes the majority of your thoughts
- Loss of Social Supports – stop seeing friends and begin to isolate, other people give up trying to get you to see what you are doing
- Collapse of the Alibi System – can no longer make excuses for yourself OR the problem person
- Drinking, Using Prescription Meds, Eating, Working, etc. to keep functioning or “feel normal”
- Hopelessness and Despair
- Untimely Death – accident, suicide, illnesses secondary to the Codependency
Reprinted with permission from Don Carter, MSW, LCSW For more visit his web site at HTTP://www.internet‐of‐the‐mind.com/enabling_behavior.html and
reprinted with permission
Article by Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje of the San Antonio Express News, November 4, 2013
In the past 20 years, researchers in neuroscience have uncovered the brain mechanisms that underlie addiction — discoveries that are slowly transforming the field of substance abuse research and treatment.
But what does it really mean to say that those caught in the grip of alcohol, cocaine or other drugs of abuse suffer from a disease? Doesn’t personal choice play a role? Read the news article here… Doctor Speaks From Experience About Addiction
Comprehensive Guide of over 40 commonly-abused drugs.
Print and read this chart on the Phases of Addiction and Recovery
“Mapping Your Steps” uses maps to help elaborate and deepen our thinking on the Twelve steps, the Serenity Prayer, the Slogans, and the Twelve Traditions. These maps have helped other people in Twelve Step work and we think they’ll help you too. Since there isn’t much room in the map to write, you have to decide what is most important to put in these spaces.
These maps are useful to help you express yourself with others and fuel discussions with your peer counselor, at peer group meetings, or with loved ones. The maps in this manual can be helpful to anyone, not just those working the program steps.
A Printable questionnaire for adolescents.