The addict/alcoholic and family members should go to different meetings, this is an essential in creating healthy boundaries, because each needs a place they can share and receive help without reservation, where emotions can be shown and the truth told. Another essential boundary is not being overly involved in the addict’s life when it comes to consequences.
When the family attempts to fix some of the destruction created by the addict, it is not a good thing. I hear a lot of people saying, “I do not want their credit to be bad so I pay their bills.”
Well, if they get bad credit and build the credit up ‘till its good they’re going to feel good about themselves. If the family manages the credit, the addict never learns about the process of fixing something they broke. And yes sometimes it gets harder before it gets easier.
Magic only happens in magic show. When family members stop fixing things for the addict/alcoholic the addicted person gets better. The addict needs to change the fantasy that things just magically get fixed.
By enabling the alcoholic/addict they become ill prepared to handle adult responsibilities. If every time they lose a job, or get in trouble with the law or destroy a car and the family member comes in and fixes it for them, there is no incentive for them to fully do their recovery work. How many lawyers are you going pay? How many cars are you going fix/buy? How many colleges? How many excuses are you going make. How isolated to you want to be because of addiction.
How will this person really feel the sting of addiction and begin to make changes. If the addict does something and doesn’t get to experience the consequences of their actions they will continue to do it again and again. Living a life without consequences isn’t real!
Family members must let the addict and alcoholic experience the consequences of their actions in order to change and grow. Family members feel good when they give their loved ones gifts. One mother I worked with said it perfectly, saying to her son who was a chronic relapser, “You have stolen from me the greatest feeling a mother has and that is being able to do and give her child nice things. I can’t do that anymore because it only hurts you and you take advantage of it and manipulate me.”
Now this mother was correct and what she ended up doing was actually giving her son the greatest gift she could have and that was letting him fall, letting him experience his consequences and letting him grow. For her other children this is not necessary, because they are not addicts and it is ok for a mother or father to treat their children differently when one is an addict because it is a matter of life and death.
There is nothing more rewarding for an addict in recovery to start to pay his or her own way in life. It helps them build a foundation on which they can stand on with the integrity to know that they did it for real this time and are on the road to recovery.