Family Members – Emotionally Hijacked
Most of us think that the addict/alcoholic's problem is the drugs and alcohol – but it is more about the addict/alcoholic who has become addicted to avoiding life situations (reality), feelings and responsibilities that make them uncomfortable.
Addicts/Alcoholics do this by having become experts at holding those who love and care about them emotionally hostage. They truly have lost the ability to face life events and uncomfortable feelings and responsibilities in a healthy manner.
The addict/alcoholic has trained those who care about them to react in very specific ways. They do this because they want to :
cause people to give them comfort
cause others to absorb the negative consequences of their behaviors/avoidance
cause others to assume responsibility for them
cause others to assume actual responsibility for and of their addiction
to train people to not intervene or confront them so that they do not have to feel the consequences of their behavior and choices
Addicts/alcoholics are very sensitive because they are very immature
Examples/forms of unhealthy coping and emotional hostage taking:
Shifting the blame
Explosively reacting to family members
Playing on Fears
Providing false hope
Denial is very powerful and a significant part of the illness of addiction and mental health issues. Family members that take the stance “ I can't do anything for _____ until he/she decides he/she wants help” are in denial and/or are guilty of avoidance just like the active addict. Often family members get just as stuck and fall into avoiding the trap. It takes courage and mental/emotional health to effectively confront and yes “intervene” on untreated mental health and addiction.
Only after the family member has openly, consistently and appropriately addressed the addiction/mental health issues – trully doing everything that is within there power to intervene on their loved one, only then can the family be free of avoidance , denial and guilt. Often family members shortcut this process.