How many times have you said, pleaded or screamed these words at your husband, brother or daughter after a particularly nasty bout of drinking? How many times has your wife, sister or son promised to stop or cut down…drink no more than two a day…smoke pot only on the week-ends? How many times has your heart been broken when this time turned out to be just like all of the times before?
THEY CAN’T STOP
Those who love someone—a spouse, child, parent or friend—whose drinking or drug use has become an all-consuming problem in their own lives will likely have spent years trying to fix things.
I was desperate, myself, when I began the journey of a loved one’s treatment for alcoholism in 2003. For decades, I’d been asking of various family members and friends who drank too much, “Why?—Why, if you love me—why won’t you stop the drinking that is ruining our lives?”
There are an estimated 100 million family members who suffer because of a loved one’s addiction. I have spent the past decade studying the 21st century brain and addiction related research to understand this chronic, often relapsing brain disease. My findings, combined with my own therapy and recovery work with a therapist specializing in addiction and a 12 step program for family members, inspires me to share two key resources that might help you understand why your loved one doesn’t seem to love you enough to stop.
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU: UNDERSTANDING THEIR DISEASE
Both of these resources explain the how and why addiction is now understood to be a chronic, often relapsing—but fully treatable—brain disease. They will help you understand why your loved one developed the disease, why your loved one does not have to hit bottom to get help, why relapse can be part of the disease and why your loved one has broken their promise to stop or cut down, likely more times that you can count.
- Drugs, Brains and Behavior: The Science of Addiction by the National Institute on Drug Addiction (NIDA)
- The Addiction Project produced by HBO in partnership with NIDA, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Take your time and carefully browse through both of these resources. There is so much there that can really help. For once you truly understand this brain disease, you will be better able to help yourself and your loved one find treatment, support and recovery.