For those of you familiar with the holiday classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, you may recall a very powerful moment in cinematic history when the film’s central character, George Bailey, (as played by the great Jimmy Stewart) suddenly stumbles upon the realization that the positive impact he’s made on a number of lives would not have happened had it not been for his very existence, an existence he was wishing never happened. When he sees how differently life would have been had he not been born, he becomes horrified at the idea and begs God to let him live again. Earlier, during his moment of realization, Clarence the angel says to George, "Each man's life touches so many other lives, and when he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?" What a powerful statement! Each person’s life can have a significant impact on so many other people’s lives.
While this is a perfect example of how one can positively impact another’s life, the reality is that sadly, one’s life also has the ability to impact others in a negative way as well. The chain reaction of individual choice has the power to affect lives in such a way that can literally change the dynamic of a family, a community, a state, even the world. Whole wars have been started over poor judgment and the foolish acts of a few individuals, resulting in thousands of lives lost. It’s amazing what the power of one’s influence can wield and sadly, in many ways, it happens in our own backyard everyday. In fact, even the addict can have such power. Often times when the grip of addiction lays hold of someone, it has the ability to transform them into someone completely different. As the person changes, behaviors have the potential to become erratic, unreasonable, and unpredictable. Narcissistic, self serving behavior begins to cause strife within the familial structure. Theft can often times become an issue. Many times, alliances within the family start forming as manipulation on the part of the addict rears its ugly head. Questions begin rise as do tensions. Arguments break out. Blame games start being played. Self doubt and the question of “where did it all go wrong?” begin to surface. Everyone suddenly decides they have the answer for that individual and many times disagreements on how it should be handled causes more division. The struggle to decide what’s best for the addict and what’s best for the rest of the family starts taking precedence and all other priorities and responsibilities take a back seat. Things start to fall out of place due to neglect and the person to be blamed for it all continues his/her plight into an abyss of self destruction with seemingly no end in sight. Bickering and fighting among the family causes bitterness, other members of the household decide to leave for lack of strength and/or lack of attention. Each individual then takes with them this burden to their place of employment, education, worship, etc. and suddenly the impact is such that some members of the family feel the need to obtain their own treatment/and or counseling as much as the addict does, yet for a different battle, the battle of mental and physical survival.
But treatment for the family members of addicts isn’t available, is it? After all isn’t the addict the one who needs treatment? The answer to both questions is a resounding yes! Due the increasing issues that arise within families due to the behavior of an addicted loved one, much is being done to help those families get to a place where their family structure can be not only restored, but maintained and even thriving through the help and support of different programs and organizations nationwide! According to addictionsandrecovery.org, there are a number of resources available along with tools you can use to help out in the meantime including tips on things you can do for the family, things you can do for the addict and things you cans do for yourself. The main thing you want to do is to take good care of yourself and don’t play the blame game. Don’t try to take this task on by yourself and reach out to professionals to get the right help for you and your loved one. Help is available for you just as much as it is for them. Make a positive choice to help yourself in this struggle, your strength is needed in helping your loved one get back to where they need to be and all the more thriving. You have the power to make a significant difference! Don’t hesitate another minute, much may be at stake!
For more information and tips on where to get help, please visit http://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/families-and-addiction.htm or please contact us at parkdalecenter.com, we’d love to chat with you and help get you where you need to go!