Initially, family members are often divided in accepting the reality of the situation when faced with a loved one's addiction and share differences of opinion as to what the solution is to the problem. Some family members can be more objective and they clearly see the reality of a serious problem. Others are way too emotionally involved to be able to see the problem as clearly. However, division among the family blocks unity, so you must learn to stand united.
And guess what, this division is your client's secret weapon. As long as you are distracted by arguing, they can usually figure out how to get what they want. Sometimes the arguing is so tiring that you just give up and give in. Game over!
No doubt, active addiction loves a chaotic and divisive environment where family relationships are typically fragmented or broken. Characteristically, parents take on different roles, especially early on. One parent may have a strong need to take action as they sense a serious problem that needs to be dealt with immediately. Thus, they become angry with the other parent or partner who isn't seeing the situation in the same way. Another parent may enable the situation without meaning to in an attempt to rescue the addict or to keep a balance in the household by not upsetting the other parent or partner. One or both parents or partners may be in denial where they hold on to the idea that "it's just a phase", experiencing a loss of dreams in the fear that their son will not have the life they dreamed of. It's important to know that the underlying powerful emotion of FEAR is driving all of these reactions.
Working together is key to becoming an ally to your client's recovery. At this time, it's better to be wrong together, than right separately. Conflict only adds much more stress and exacerbates the problem. This is one time that teamwork is absolutely essential is all family situations.
Solving differences of opinion is certainly not easy. However, if you approach it in a simple way, you have two options to finding unity. One party has to be willing to take a step back or a step forward. In other words, someone has to be willing to shift. For example, the angry parent may say to the enabling one "It's obvious the approach we are taking is not working. I know I'm really angry, but I'm frustrated with your enabling". Be willing to stop the blame game, stay calm, and work together.
It is much more effective when you handle difficult situations as a united team. You learn to communicate directly, be firm, but yet loving, as you deal with this very tough situation.
Having a united front is the surest path to healing and recovery for your family. Over the years, I’ve seen very few families initially approach this problem as a united team. But over time, they all realized that they had to figure out how to work together. Through working together, families find solutions, so that they can come together, not grow more and more apart.
And there is a deeper lesson to be learned here as well. When we become willing to work together with our support system we will suddenly realize that we don’t have to have all the answers. We don’t have to be right. We discover that we are not alone. And we suddenly realize that together we can do what we could not do by ourselves.
The single most important message is that a UNITED FRONT saves lives! So, we encourage you to work together in this process. Be a part of the Recovery Team!