After a blissful month of rebuilding your new life with a loved one who’s in recovery, you wake up one day to only find the hope you resurrected has disappeared along with them.
As scary as it seems, if you’re a family member of an addict or an addict yourself, then you should be familiar with binge-disappearing cycles that occur during addiction.
One moment their presence is so tangible that it ignites a sense of hope to burn away the past, and the next moment their absence disrupts that reality.
Parents or spouses may resort to blaming themselves.
But the true blame will always lie in the root cause: the addict and their addiction.
According to an article on Patch Media, “‘Addicts are Selfish…’ — Why Sympathy Should Be Shifted in Addiction-Related Deaths,” blogger Laura Madsen wrote that some addicts in recovery “rationalize sobriety for a period of invincibility, and think if they just have one drink or dabble in a drug one time. They’ll be fine.”
But the only way to fully overcome addiction is for an addict to succumb to their lack of self-control and selfishness. It’s something that not even the closest relationship can solve or heal. An addict has to realize this for themselves.
How to set boundaries on a disappearing addict
In 2013, the Daily Mail published an article in which the late comedian and actor Robin Williams recounted a relapse into alcoholism after 20 years of recovery:
“One day I walked into a store and saw a little bottle of Jack Daniel’s. And then that voice…goes, ‘Hey. Just a taste. Just one.’”
Williams goes on to explain how his relapse “escalated quickly,” causing him to fall back into addiction and rehab.
Like Williams, addicts who are in recovery may start to feel they can reward themselves with drugs or alcohol and not suffer the same consequences. The problem that happens when this occurs is that the moment the addict slips, so do their years or efforts of recovery.
So while their binge on alcohol or drugs will cause them to abandon their responsibilities and loved ones, it’s important to keep in mind that you are not at fault.
Here are tips for setting clear boundaries for a loved one who has relapsed:
1. When they disappear, don’t let them back into the household. You can keep communication with them via texts or phone calls, but be firm and let them know once they leave, they can’t come back until they’re sober.
2. Don’t let them blame others or circumstances for a drug binge: Often, when addicts disappear, you may not hear from them until they’re locked in a jail cell or recuperating in a hospital bed. At this moment, don’t fall prey to victim blaming and redirect the consequences to them and their actions.
3. Remind them with interventions or tough love that help is available when they choose to go: Rehab is always an option, but no one else can force them to go until they make a choice.
Finding support when coping with a drug binge
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40 percent to 60 percent of drug addicts experience relapse after treatment. Therefore, experiencing a drug binge phase with an addict is common among friends and family members.
Worrying is normal. It’s a response to the love you have toward the addict, but it’s important to express this love in two ways: from a distance and on your terms.
While exhibiting firm boundaries between yourself and the addiction, remember that the lines of the relationship can shift, depending on the addict’s response to your guidelines.
But until you feel comfortable opening the doors to that person, gaining a community and support is important.
For those who are dealing with an alcoholic on a binge, Al-Anon/Alateen provides support for family members and friends of alcoholics via local support groups. To find a support group in your city, visit their website.
Here are additional support groups for family and friends of addicts:
· Nar-Anon Family Groups
· Co-dependents Anonymous
· Dual Recovery Anonymous
· Adult Children of Alcoholics
· Learn to Cope
· Parents of Addicted Loved Ones (PALS)
Joining a support group will link you to communities who can help give you the strength and accountability you need to finally stop enabling an addict and their drug habits.
Looking for drug and alcohol rehab for a loved one?
If you’re looking for drug rehab, California Highlands Addiction Treatment is a luxury residential program that specializes in individualized treatment programs. Whether your loved one has alcohol, meth, crack, or opioid addiction, our team of professionals can help them on the path to recovery. Our 24-7 addiction specialists are on standby, ready to help assist you with the next steps when your loved one makes a choice to enter rehab. Call today at (844) 318-0074 to help your family member begin a new life where they will be present.