Monday, November 14, 2016

Enabling - The Part We Play - Part 4 of Addiction is a Family Disease

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ENABLING:  The  Part We Play

The hand is held out yet it's dirty, because that is exactly what we do when enabling our addicts, even though we don't realize it. We aren't helping them, we are enabling their addiction.

How many of you at some point and time have done any of the following things? 

  • Went searching for them in the middle of the night?
  • Searched their vehicle looking for alcohol or drugs?
  • Paid their bills because they didn't have money (since all their money was spent on alcohol or drugs)?
  • Made excuses for them to family and friends?
  • Bailed them out of jail?
  • Paid their court fees or fines?
  • Helped them find a job?
  • Bought them a vehicle?
  • Walked on egg shells around them afraid to trigger an outburst?

I've accomplished all of the above except one (searching in the middle of the night) numerous times over the years. With every single act, I thought I was doing the right thing--the loving, supportive thing--for my addict. These are all things we have done that are considered enabling behaviors. They are all things our addict can do for themselves yet they won't or they don't because we do it for them!

Let's define the difference:

Helping is doing something for someone else that they are not capable of doing for themselves.

Enabling is doing things for someone else that they can and should be doing for themselves.

Once we understand the part we play in the enabling process, we can choose to break the cycle or we can choose to continue to enable. If we don't choose to change then we need to understand that our addict will not change either....we are the enabler, our change is the key! Not the answer, God is the answer, but we are the key! Are we more addicted to loving our addict then we are to loving our God? Do we really believe that He is capable of loving and caring for our addict more than we are? If so, then we need to shift our focus from worrying about our addict to entrusting our loved one to God. When we stand in the way of the Almighty, we stand in the way of God working in their lives.

God may let your addict suffer consequences of their choices before He gets their attention,  but isn't that  what  we want--for God to get to get their attention?

Hebrews 12:11 states: "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."

As a mother, the hardest thing I ever had to do was let go and entrust my child to the Lord. Stepping back into the shadows, I had to learn to come to terms with the battle raging inside his mind wasn't one I could help or shield him from no matter what I did.

It is still a daily struggle for us both to not slip back into old habits.

The monster known as addiction latches on tight inside our addict's mind and fights like crazy when trying to slay it. The mental struggles our loved one goes through during the detoxification and rehab process are beyond painful to watch.

They are downright gut-wrenching.

However, it can be accomplished, just like the old adage about eating an elephant one bite at a time. The journey is long, treacherous and full of stumbling blocks yet worth every single step.  

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Control and Blame Game - Part 3 of Addiction is a Family Disease

Trying to control it

As family members of addicts, we often try everything we can think of to get our loved one to stop drinking or using drugs. We feel responsible for making sure they are okay and that they have everything we feel they need. This usually leaves us feeling frustrated. We tell ourselves that surely there is something we can do, but the reality is, the addicts themselves can’t even control it.

So how in the world are WE going to get them to?

If the addict is not ready to reach out for help, guess what? Our efforts to try and force them to admit they need help usually cause more issues. Only when the consequences of their addiction become painful enough will they reach out for help. Unfortunately, we can’t force them to get help and there is not much we can do until they realize they have a problem and reach out for that help. We can however step back and hand the controls back to the one who CAN control it. By doing that, we relieve so much pressure that we have put on ourselves from trying to control what only God can control—the heart of the addict.

Unwanted behaviors and attitudes are a reflection of what is in our heart. (Luke 6:45b)" ... his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart"

We need to look at the heart because repentance that is real happens because of changes in their heart.

(lsa 16:7) “...God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”.

(l Thessalonians 4:4)
“That each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable.”

Blaming yourself

Someone does not always become an alcoholic or addict because they were raised in a dysfunctional family. Addiction is not necessarily caused by emotional wounds. It also has nothing to do with will power, strength of character, or intelligence.

Addiction is a physiological genetic allergy- hereditary predisposition involving brain chemistry. There is now ample scientific proof and research data to support these facts.

Addiction is a disease.

Alcoholics/Addicts try to blame their drinking or using drugs on circumstances or others around them—including their family. Don’t buy into it! If they are truly an addict, they are going to drink or use drugs no matter what we say or do. It’s not our fault. How we deal with it though is our fault!

We must start recognizing how powerless we are over this disease.

We were powerless to do anything any different than we did. We were doing the best that we knew how with the tools that we had. We can't go back and change anything so worrying about it doesn’t help!

As long as we are holding onto the guilt and shame, it means that on some level we think we had the power to stop it. We didn't! Only God can change the heart of an addict. Blaming yourself only prolongs you from seeking the help that you need to get.  Coming to terms with the fact that your loved one is an addict and recognizing that you are an enabler, allows for you to move forward and get the help you need. Just like the saying goes you must put your oxygen mask on first before you can assist anyone else with theirs.

(1 Peter 4: 12 )  - “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to  test you, as though something  strange  were  happening to  you.”

(John 3: 17 )  - “For God did not send his son into the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

***Notes from Ashley***

I am a control freak in every aspect of my life, including the life of my addict. I tried everything under the sun to wrestle the control addiction had over my loved one.

I failed.

You will too.

The battle isn't ours to fight. Those of us who love an addict are relegated to the sidelines, yet that doesn't mean we can only helplessly watch with our hands tied. This is the time for fervent prayer.

The blame game is another disturbing aspect of addiction. We look back over the places we could have done things differently. You know what I mean--the "If I would have just done" or the ever-popular "If I could just go back and change this..."

You can't.

Blaming choices someone else makes for their lives on yourself is a complete and total waste of time. It festers like a tainted boil inside our hearts and minds. It won't help your addict ONE BIT, and it certainly won't help YOU. Of course, saying (or typing) the words is much easier than actually putting them into action in your life. I know because the blame game tape STILL pops up on occasion. Like an old song  you hate that randomly plays on the radio, the lyrics "It's all your fault" replay over and over.

Will it ever end? The continual pangs of regret, remorse, anger, guilt, sadness and fear? Doubtful. Even if your addict has been clean and sober for years, the old scars still ache sometimes. Just as our addict must learn to live with their piles of mental baggage, we must too.

Stay strong, keep loving your addict in healthy ways, and make sure to take care of your mind, body and soul!


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Ruined Wings takes flight!

Addiction stole everything Callie loved. Will she let it take her life, too?
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Mark your calendar for December 12, 2016!

Ruined Wings is raw, real and a terrifying journey into addiction. A must read for every parent.” – Elaine Raco Chase, bestselling author

Seventeen-year-old Callie Novak is on the cusp of changing her life as she warms up for the final heat in the Women's 1600 meter track and field competition. While she sets a new state record, her family's worse nightmare is just beginning.

When tragedy strikes the Novak family every reader will feel the pain of grief, the perils of drug abuse, the despair that leads to a shocking downward spiral and the strength that’s needed to overcome addiction.


Addiction isn’t just about the voluminous issues experienced by the addict. Like ripples in a pond, addiction affects everything—and everyone—around the addict. Nothing remains untouched as the disease, like a virulent plague, destroys relationships, friendships,employment, childhood, parenthood and marriages. Don’t believe me? Take a few minutes to read this staggering piece from CNN.
According to the article (source figures provided by the CDC from number of deaths from drug poisoning vs. other causes, 1999-2014) “Drugs now kill more people than cars, guns. Drugs are the leading cause of accidental death in this country. Fatal overdoses surpassed shooting deaths and fatal traffic accidents years ago. For perspective on how fast drug deaths have risen, Anderson said, consider the sharp rise in heart disease in the early half of the 20th century. It took about 50 years for the rate of heart disease to double. It took drug deaths a fraction of that time.

I wrote this novel from the perspective of the addict. Callie's heartbreaking journey into the ugly world of addiction is a fictional glimpse of how the disease rips apart lives and families. If you love someone struggling with addiction, as I do, I pray you'll find hope and strength while reading Callie's story.

Andrea Emmes has signed on to narrate the audio version and the amazing Sabrina Stewart (Executive Producer of Foreseen) has already optioned Ruined Wings for a film adaptation. 

Ruined Wings releases December 12, 2016 and is available for preorder in ebook format on Amazon, B&N, Kobo and iBooks. The audio version will be on Audible and iTunes. The book will also be available in hardcover (link coming soon). 

For those of you struggling with the intense emotions of loving an addict, I invite you to visit my blog. With the permission of Families in Addiction (Hot Springs, Arkansas) I post each weekly lesson geared toward helping the family members of addicts cope with the overwhelming heartbreak caused by the actions of our addicts.  
Copyright © 2016 RMSW Press

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Monday, October 10, 2016

How Do You Do This? - Part 2 of Addiction is a Family Disease

Part 2 of the series is below, taken from the literature handed out by Families in Addiction (Hot Springs, Arkansas - with their permission). 

Just like my addict, I thought I could handle things on my own.


You can't.

It will break you to the point you can't think straight.

Take a minute, breathe, and realize you are just as addicted as your addict. Your drug of choice is them.

God bless all of you reading this and remember: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Stay strong,



This is the #1 question we all ask, followed by:
1.     How do I get through this mess?
2.     How do I stop enabling?
3.     Am I   loving the addict to death?
4.     How do I justWAIT”?
5.     Am I alienating  my other children or the  rest of my family?
6.     Where  do I go to get help for myself?

In order to navigate through the landmines of addiction, we have to take massive action to honestly evaluate where we are in this crisis and commit to strengthen ourselves and our families.

Priority #1 - YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD - Facing addiction requires us to do a complete spiritual inventory. We don't want to admit our problems any more than our addict does. Addiction is a spiritual problem both for the addict and those who love the addict. Shifting your focus from your addict to God will give you the powerful, spiritual connection you need to strengthen your faith to be able to walk through this time. This is not a cake walk you're on - it is a FAITH walk! You will never be the same; life will never be the same. You, just as your addict, will never get through this without a strong relationship with God!

Priority #2 - YOUR MARRIAGE AND YOUR SPOUSE  - Addiction  wraps  its tentacles tightly around those closest to the addict. Addiction can drive a wedge between husband and wife like no other problem. If you are the spouse of an addict you will need tremendous support to make wise decisions that not only affect you but also your family. Seek out those individuals you trust for counsel and advice. Make your decisions prayerfully. If you are the parents of an addict most likely one of you is more of an enabler than the other parent. Addiction can put you at odds and cause your communication to go underground. Anger, resentment, bitterness and depression can wreck a relationship in a short time. Just as we have to take our eyes off our addict to strengthen our relationship with God, we have to take our eyes off our addict to save our marriage. From this point forward you must work to understand one another, accept one another and courageously love one another as you've just entered a chapter of life no couple ever plans on their wedding day.

Priority #3 - CLOSE COMMUNICATION AND RELATIONSHIP TO OTHERS WHO CAN LOVE AND SUPPORT YOU - Addiction thrives in darkness, is rooted in emptiness, disconnection, discontentment and not belonging. Addiction is confusing and suffocating. It is comforting and inspiring to connect with others who understand our pain, heartache and powerlessness. Traveling down the road of active addiction with our loved one is like walking through hell but there are hundreds of thousands of people who are suffering just as we are. It is important NOT to isolate yourself during this traumatic time but reach out and accept help from others that have traveled this path and understand you, who will lovingly encourage you and pray for you, who will walk beside you along the way.

Priority #4 - TAKE EXTRA GOOD CARE OF YOU - Anytime we are given a serious health diagnosis we know life has suddenly changed and we must follow the doctor's orders in order to recover and get healthy once again. Where you find yourself at this time is no different. As you may be just facing the reality of the addiction of your loved one or have been dealing with it for years, you MUST take extra good care of yourself during this time. Most of us are accustomed to pushing ourselves in times that require it, not eating properly, not getting enough rest. Facing the addiction of a loved one will take its toll on your mental, physical and emotional health. t is extremely important to pay very close attention to warning signs that your body gives you. Grief and deep sadness will wear on immune system. The anger and emotional roller-coaster the addict can take you on can give you signs of stress on your heart and blood pressure. Intense worry and mind chatter can create insomnia and fatigue making it very hard to do what you have always able to do before the discovery of addiction. In whatever HEALTHY way you can relieve the mental, physical and emotional stress you may be experiencing give yourself permission to take extra good care of yourself on a daily basis.

Priority #5 - CREATE A NEW NORMAL - At the discovery of addiction normal life as you've known or hoped for you and your family no longer exists. Denial of the facts about the addiction of our loved one causes us to force ourselves to continue life as it “was supposed to be” not face the reality of how it really is. We become like a caged hamster on a wheel going around and around unable to call our loved an “addict”, refuse to believe they are lying to us or we fool ourselves by thinking this is just a phase. Part of recovery is creating a new normal. The sooner we face the reality of addiction and accept that this is part of our journey in life, though we did not choose it, the faster we can begin to create a NEW normal way of life for ourselves and the other members of our family. We can once again find joy, peace and most of all a healthy love for ourselves, our addict and other family members.

Upcoming release of Operation S&D

I am so excited to announce the upcoming release of Operation S&D . This book starts where Operation DFC ended and is quite the thrill ...