In Life we usually connect with about 5 different types of interpersonal communication – Verbal, Non Verbal – gestures, expressions , body language, written and visual.
When any substance use reaches the stage of addiction , the communication of the person addicted to the alcohol/drugs with himself/herself and with those around him especially family, friends and co-workers gets disturbed and distorted.
The individual struggles to control his/her usage, isolates himself from family and friends. The family without being aware that addiction is a disease and that the individual has become a puppet in the hands of the alcohol/drugs , scold, berate, fight, demean the individual. They also become a puppet to their emotions. The addict makes this communication from the family as an excuse to drink/use. Both are wrong and suffer from this mis -communication. Here the dependent is going around the substance trying to control its usage and the family around him/her trying to control his usage thereby being co-dependent. Unconsciously the family and close friends thus enable the using.
The one addicted also never uses the way they want to use but does not know how to stop and is unable to communicate that he needs help. The family does not know what to say and when to get him to seek help and the communication becomes futile. The family needs to meet a person expert in the field to learn the right kind of communication and the help needed to get the addicted individual into treatment.
The right Communication to the person addicted –
When the individual who is addicted comes into treatment it is very essential for the family to come into counseling and receive parallel treatment themselves with the family therapist . It is very important for them to realise through therapy that they are solely responsible for their emotions and the way they feel , it is a choice. This realisation and sense of responsibility makes them self- reliant and not emotionally dependent on the person who suffers from addiction.
Therapy for the co-dependent is essential even if the dependent does not come into treatment or recovery . If therapy is not taken, then indirect enabling behaviors continue like
If therapy is received then :-
The communication After the loved one comes back home after the right treatment- It is very natural at this time for the co-dependent to feel that this individual who was an absentee father/mother , an absentee son/daughter, an absentee husband/wife suddenly wants to take on and participate in all these roles . It takes time for the co -dependent family to accept and acknowledge this apparent sudden shift in paradigm. It is not easy for them then to leave their control over the house, the children, the business, over the finances . This is due to their past experiences with the individual when they were drinking and using. If they have not received help and worse if they have not accepted help for themselves, the spouse , parent or children of the dependent continue to look at the addict who is now in recovery with “ old eyes” . the past is brought up frequently and thrown at them in arguments and conversations.
Expectations also increase with the person back home as though going to the rehab has been a miracle turning point and everything will now be fine. Far from reality. The actual life issues surface and are and have to be faced head on with emotional stability.
It has to be understood by the one who has received help for his addiction that his recovery is not dependent on the support or lack of support from the family and loved ones.
The right communication post treatment-
However, the above is truly possible only when the spouse, family are willing to and work on themselves too as much as the person addicted to the substance does, with the writing, the counseling and the meditations.
Building up and bridging relationships are enabled by the professional experiential counselors through self disclosure . Having a family intervention with the counselors after about 4 weeks of residential stay of the dependent in the treatment facility is extremely important so that issues in the relationships can be faced and dealt with and solutions arrived at in a conducive environment.
When the Individual in residential treatment and the co-dependent become self- reliant individuals then they can meet on a common platform of friendliness and compassion-dysfunctionalities dwindle away and a life that is truly fulfilling beyond drinking and using surfaces. This is a process and requires patience , effort and compassion between all parties involved.