When Someone You Love Has an Addiction


Doctor Neha:  Welcome to TalkRx with Doctor Neha. Today, I have a special guest, Kay, who has been so gracious as to be willing to ask her communication question so that all of you can learn as she learns. Welcome Kay.

Kay:  Thank you very much.

Doctor Neha:  Can you feel your body talking to you? Is it kind of giving you any physical sensations like your heart racing, your stomach turning, anything like that?

Kay:  Not right now. I think a few minutes ago before we started this, I felt more nervous.

Dr. Neha:  But you feel good now?

Kay:  I feel great.

Doctor Neha:  I’m wondering what your communication question is.

Kay:  Doctor Neha, you must see a lot of people how have eating disorders and alcohol issues and alcohol dependencies of different sorts, so I wonder if you might shed some light on this: I have some loved ones in my life that have these issues and I love them very much. I’m concerned about what I could do—if I’ll help them and at the same time help myself, and how I could communicate with them? Maybe you could shed some light on that.

Doctor Neha:  First of all, I want to say that’s a really tough one because what you are talking about is something that you don’t actually have control over. True?

Kay:  Exactly.

Doctor Neha:  What have you done to learn so far about how to handle that?

Kay:  I have attended Al-Anon for many, many years. Alcoholism has been in my family since I was a child. I know it is a generation disease and I know it is a disease. I’ve been very involved in that. There is still a dilemma on how to communicate or how not to communicate and what is proper for everybody involved including myself?

Doctor Neha:  Are you finding that your relationships with these loved ones is becoming more distant because of this? Do you feel like you can’t talk to them about certain things?

Kay:  I find it both becoming more distant and more meshed. On my part, my feeling more panicky to get involved—concerned about their health especially.

Doctor Neha:  You are feeling a sense of urgency. At the same time, you are feeling them moving a little bit a way and then you are chasing that.

Kay:  Yes.

Doctor Neha:  This is going to be a really simple example: When you were little, if you ever liked a boy then the more you liked him, what did he do? He is not interested all of a sudden. But when you decide, “You know what? I had enough of this. I don’t want this anymore,” then he is interested. This is the human nature piece of this. Now, what you are talking about is something really serious. What you are talking about is a health issue and also a disease, right? It can be hereditary. There are so many causes, but at the bottom of what’s happening is a numbing strategy.

Often what I find is that when there is some sort of pain or some sort of loss in someone’s life, some sort of tragedy, then feeling not hurt, not seen, not valued, not connected, they don’t belong, some version of that, [they develop a numbing strategy]. When someone develops one of these issues, it is often because they are trying to fill something inside themselves.

I’m just going to make up an example so, for me, when I don’t feel connected or I don’t feel loved, I have my set of food strategies that make me feel comfort and love. Do you know what I’m talking about? Even though it is just for a minute as the food is sliding down my throat then it is gone, there is that momentary hit of me filling those things, right?

Kay:  Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doctor Neha:  Let’s say that what I longed for is love. There are not enough chocolate chip brownies in the world to give me love because love is on a different level but that’s how the infinity loop begins. There is not enough alcohol to numb me out of not feeling in love. Because it is happening on a different level.

Doctor Neha:  The addiction itself is about something underneath that is unfulfilled, and what the addiction is doing is a short-term coping strategy to get me through the moment, through the moment, through the moment, through the moment—over and over. When you are asking somebody to stop drinking or you are trying to get them to stop using food as a way to control their body or whatever the situation is, that’s not the level on which is happening. Does that make sense?

Kay:  Yes.

Doctor Neha:  This person, until the issue is healed underneath, can’t stop the strategy because the strategy is allowing them survive. Do you understand what I’m saying?

Kay:  Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Doctor Neha:  Now, let’s talk about you. Your part in this is about what you are saying, “It is really hard for me; I’m getting more and more anxious and they are getting farther and farther away.” The first rule is you can’t want for another. As desperately as you might try to want for somebody else, it is actually not even possible. Let’s say we are going to imagine that you have a crazy temper like you blow up any time something isn’t happening the way you want it. If I really want to connect to you and I really want you to lose that temper, even thinking or saying, Just lose the temper and we can connect, how many lifetimes that I’m going to be waiting for that to happen? Do you see what I mean?

Kay:  Yeah.

Doctor Neha:  [In our example] Your journey in this lifetime might be to actually have a temper and that’s one of the ways that you express yourself. I am now saying I want you to change so that we can connect. My father has a temper so that’s why that example came to me pretty clearly. I used to say, “I don’t have a relationship with him, but I would if he learned how to manage his temper better.” What I realized was that it was about me learning how to respond in the face of a temper.

So about this situation where people you love are going through the struggle. What is it that you need to learn to show up in this place and support them through whatever it is they are going through? Because this is their journey; this isn’t your journey. You don’t get to control their journey. You get to say, “I love you and I’m gonna support you in whatever your journey is.” Do you feel that letting go, that peace?

Kay:  Yes.

Doctor Neha:  I want you to turn to page 303 in TalkRx and tell me what the title of the chapter is on that page 303.

Kay:  Surrender. Oh, my gosh, surrender, yes.

Doctor Neha:  It feels like what we are going to do is lose control, but the truth is … Can you read just the opening paragraph?

Kay:  Sure, “One final thought. Even if you use everything you’ve learned, diligently complete the exercises and apply all the tools of the i-Five conversation, other factors are at play. When you attempt to engage with those around you, you can’t force someone else’s readiness. You can’t make another person listen or change. As hard as you may try, you can’t want for another. Despite your accountability and curiosity, you may discover that you and someone else have grown apart or that there is no overlap in your desires. As a result, the outcome of well-constructive conversation may not be what you wish for, envision, or anticipate.”

Doctor Neha:  I don’t think all of that is the case for you. I actually think that the beginning of that is very true. What it is you want is that however much time you have with any of these people you want to spend with them and connect with them.

Kay:  Of course.

Doctor Neha:  What if counter intuitively the trick was that you allowed them to be where they were and you loved them on this journey?

Kay:  Yeah.

Doctor Neha:  That’s the part. It sound something like this … I’ll give you some words of what it might sound like: “Hey, Kay. I went to this weekend workshop and I learned about communication and how I’m showing up in our relationship and how it’s not really working. I’ve learned some things about myself that I think could help us have a stronger relationship. Could we talk for 15 minutes so I can share those with you? When is a good time for you?” Then they get to say when. Let’s say they say, “Now is a good time.” I’d say, “Well, thank you so much. I just noticed that there is this part of me that wants to save you. There is this role inside me as a mother …” Are you a mother?

Kay:  Yes.

Doctor Neha:  “It is like instinct and I want to save you, but you know what I’m doing when I try to do that? I’m making the fundamental assumption that you are not strong and capable and resourceful and creative, and I’m acting like you need me to save you. What I have learned is there is a way that I find value and have a role by being the one to try and save you. It’s a noble cause except what I’m feeling is distance between us. The harder I try, the less close we feel. I feel it in our relationship. Do you experience that? What I want you to know is that it’s going to be hard to change. I might not do it perfectly. But I’m learning some new tools, and I’m wondering if you could give me feedback on what is working and not working in our relationship—and maybe we could do a take 2.”

Kay:  I see.

Doctor Neha:  Like a take 2 in a movie. Why can’t we do it? Let’s do one in our relationships. How was that for you?

Kay:  It is more freeing.

Doctor Neha:  You feel free?

Kay:  Yeah. It is more freeing that there is nothing I can do, but to have compassion and love.

Doctor Neha:  There is a lot you could do, but what you are doing is you are focusing on what you want with them, and you are focusing on how you show up in a relationship instead of trying to make somebody else change so that your world is better. Do you see what I mean?

Kay:  Yes.

Doctor Neha:  There is also a fundamental level of self-trust that means if something undesirable happens, if someone gets hospitalized, if they don’t do well, you will trust that you can handle what comes next for you—instead of trying to control the outside environment to make it all safe for you. That’s a different level of self-trust. We try so hard to keep control, but letting go actually gives us the freedom and the ability to connect and actually get what we want with people.

Doctor Neha:  Was this helpful?

Kay:  Yeah. It certainly is. Thank you so much.

Doctor Neha:  I would love you to email me and let me know how it is going.

Kay:  Okay. Thank you very much.

Doctor Neha:  If any of you are struggling because there is someone or something in your life that you just wish would be different so that you could live the life that you want, I’ve got a message for you today which is it only takes one person to change the outcome of any conversation and that person is you.

Your Awareness Prescription

  1. You can’t want for another person. You can only want for yourself.
  2. Honor where others are on their journey—and that they have a unique lesson to learn. You are not in control of their life—only your own.
  3. Trust that the other person is whole, capable, strong and resourceful.
  4. Any time is a good time to do a take-two in your relationship.
  5. Express how much you love them.

To the delicate dance between self and others,

Doctor Neha logo


6 Responses

  1. Hi, Alcoholism/addictions/depression/anxiety/eating disorders etc can be due to Celiac. Gluten can be like Heroin to the brain so people may crave it in alcohol and it is hidden in many things. Sugar can be like cocaine to the brain. Anger can be due to liver needing detoxed besides situations.Tests may not work to diagnose Celiac. Cyrex labs may help. Alternative doctors may help or chiropractors. The whole family tree maybe Celiac, but each person may have different issues due to it. Best wishes.

    What I do for Celiac..short version:

    No gluten/dairy/soy/sugar/GMO and vitamins/good oils, LDN and detoxing help me. Vit D3 5000IU, zinc 50mg if detoxing, fish oil 2000mg, 20000mg of evening primrose oil. 2000 mg of lecithin, Phosphatidylserine/DMAE or krill oil, Coenzyme Q10, Rhodiola, Mg citrate 400mg, Vit C, 5000mcg of biotin, Nature’s Plus- Source of life multiple, HCl and enzymes with meals, dairy free probiotic, Vit B12 methylcobalamin shot/spray/under the tongue kind/intrinsic factor kind, MTHF folate, coenyzme Q10, rhodiola, may help brain/body/thyroid/ and more health issues. Gluten is wheat/barley/rye..oats may act like gluten with avenin. GMO corn/soy/canola oil may hurt. Amour thyroid maybe needed since gluten may made antibodies to the thyroid.

    Sunlight (helps the immune system and helps to heal the gut lining),exercise, organic food, good water..not tap water, cooking by scratch pure food….. no food in a box/bag/premade/label/restaurant which may help avoid hidden gluten. Certified gluten free food may have 20ppm of gluten…too much. Nuts not sold in the shell/meat basting/some spices may have hidden gluten and lotion/make up etc. One restaurant cooks special for me…rice/veg/tea/extra mushrooms (no meat since the woks may have MSG/gluten in them).

    EDTA/DMPS IV chelations from an Alternative doctor, 600mg of cilantro, zeolites, organic sulfur, Now brand- Detox support, Far Infrared Sauna and more may help detox. Hair tests show good minerals and heavy metals. Heavy metals can block thyroid and other chemical reactions in the body/brain.

    LDN may help block hidden gluten/heal the gut lining and help the immune system, but the Celiac diet is still needed. 100% no gluten..no hidden or microscopic gluten may help. Cutting back on gluten or cheating by eating gluten hurts the immune system. It may take 1 1/2 months to heal the gut lining after getting hidden gluten.

    Amour thyroid has some T3 and Calcitonin. Synthroid is only T4..may not convert to T3. Zn/Se/enough iron/strong probiotic may help convert T4 to T3 for thyroid.

  2. You can’t speed up their journey except given them facts. They need the freedom to decide. LDN is awesome help, but they need to want to heal. Undiagnosed Celiac people may get very stubborn and may have had many hard times/suffering their whole life. Be a good model. Codependents…like to help/save. Saving puts one person above the other..not equals. I pray for people, but still they have free will. I pray they are happy/healthy/open to Celiac and natural help.

    My friend want to “fix” me…but have no clue that I had Lyme disease/Celiac/MS/heavy metals and much more. They don’t understand about my life/health. I am not going to live my life THEIR way…their hobbies/religion/activities etc. I don’t need them to mold my life as if they can’t accept me unless I match 100% their way in life. They think they are above me.

    Vit D3 5000mcg or LDN or 5000mcg of biotin or Vit B12 methylcobalamin shot/spray/under the tongue kind, zinc etc all were like miracles for my health. People may change one small thing and realize it makes like a miracle in their life. No gluten…I had 1000X more energy in two weeks and felt 20 years younger. To me being a good model…being happy/healthy…they may ask the secret. Best wishes.

  3. Dr. Neha hit on some strong points in her interview. She also had some great answers. As a mother of 2 addicts it has been a long journey trying to find balance between my children’s lives and my own. I am finally there! One of the resources that helped at the onset of my journey was to attend a local Naranon meeting. These meetings are for family and friends who have an addict in their lives. Naranon is a global institution and is to Narcotics Anonymous like Alanon is to AA. For support you may want to go to Nara-non.org to find a local meeting in your area.

    1. Thank you Pam for your kind words & acknowledging that this is possible for others. So impressed by your commitment to creating healthy relationships! Appreciate the resources too!

  4. Thank you! This is so helpful for me with my son’s struggles with addiction. I cannot want for him. I cannot find my own value in trying to save him. I can want to interact, to love, to be loved, to have good times together. To do that, I have to have self-trust and centered energy, and want what I want, rather than want something FOR him. I am trying. I find Alanon a huge help. Trying to control other people, or what is going on outslde of the self, is the problem in me. I am trying to aim energy at letting go, surrendering any illusion of control.

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