1. Why did you write: “When Your Heart Belongs to an Addict – A Healing Perspective” and what is it about?
I wanted to share the knowledge I gained through my son’s opiate addiction, which began when he was in high school. It doesn’t dwell on the gory details, but includes a fusion of powerful ideas, pertinent examples, and concrete steps that shine a light on the reader’s inherent worth, helps them restore their sanity, and reclaim their lives.
2. What were some of the challenges of having a son addicted to opioids and how did you cope with those challenges?
At first, it was difficult to understand what we were dealing with. I had never heard of opiate addiction, nor did I understand addiction at all. I did not cope very well. I fought it for a long time, not wanting to believe it was happening to my son or to my family, hoping that it would magically disappear.
The next difficulty was figuring out how to get him the help that he needed. There’s often a short window of time when they want to get help. Finding a place was difficult and confusing. They were costly and the odds for success were disheartening.
One of the greatest challenges throughout the entire time was taking care of myself. There’s a tendency to forget about your own health; you are too busy trying to “fix them” and deal with the daily crises that occur during the height of addiction. There was no one to talk with at the time – no one really understood – and there was a fair amount of shame on my part to admit our predicament.
3. What advice would you give to someone who has a family member who has a drug or alcohol problem, but the family member is in denial and won’t change his or her behavior?
Get educated on the disease. Learn where you power is and where it isn’t. You cannot change someone who isn’t willing to change, but you’ll spend an awful lot of time trying to do so until you figure this out. You must learn how to change your own behavior, instead.
4. What sort of spiritual practices can help someone who has a family member with an addiction?
Any spiritual or religious practice will help – as long as it gets you closer to your Higher Guidance – and instills in you a sense of personal value and worth – because addiction diminishes this greatly.
The God I believed in prior to my son’s addiction failed me miserably during this time frame. I had to rethink my religious practices and discern where the holes were in my spirituality in order to close them. Previously, I had believed in God – but it was all just words – there never was any real connection. I figured out that I had been relying upon the “God of my own Reasoning” for direction, and it was incredibly limiting and faulty.
I have benefitted tremendously from yoga, meditation and Al-Anon. They strengthen my spiritual connection and quiet my mind, thereby reducing the chatter that tells me “I’m no good”, “I should’ve done things differently”, or “I need something else to happen in order to be okay.” This connection has been the greatest gift to come out of my son’s addiction.
5. How do you balance trying to help and love a family member who has an addiction without becoming codependent or enabling them?
You’ll make a lot of mistakes trying to find this balance, so be gentle with yourself and grant yourself some grace. There is a fine line between helping someone and enabling them. One thing that worked for me was to say, “I’ll help you as long as you’re helping yourself.”
Don’t take their behavior personally. Try to separate your worth – and theirs – from the addiction. Their words and actions are filled with pain that they don’t know how to express any differently. Utilize personal boundaries and personal space when necessary to protect yourself from the damaging effects. You are not at fault, nor are you responsible for making sure everything turns out perfectly.
6. Anything else?
The best thing you can do is to get well yourself. My favorite part of the book is the 3 R’s for the Soul, which addresses exactly how to do this. It includes:
1. Rethinking Religion and Your Inherent Worth
2. Reclaiming Your Personal Power
3. Releasing Your Essence.
By implementing the 3 Rs, you’ll learn how to live with power, purpose, and passion by developing the following attributes:
• A strong, individual spiritual connection, perhaps unlike anything you’ve ever experienced
• The personal power to maintain and protect your well-being regardless of external circumstances, and
• The freedom to live your life with less fear and regret