photo of a man drowning with a hand reaching out of the water - powerlessnessWhen facing an addicted individual, what’s normally seen is anger, frustration, and the inability to place anything above the substances that are being used.  It is difficult to see past the harm that has caused a severance in the relationship. One sees the actions of the individual, and fears any repercussions that might come if they place themselves in between the addict and their substance. It‘s a terrifying and confusing place to be in.  It is not easily seen that the addict truly is suffering from powerlessness. In attempting to control the situation and wrest satisfaction out of it, they are attempting to gain power. It is impossible to have a power struggle with an addict.   Arguments are pointless. They leave everyone with nothing accomplished but hurt feelings and broken pride. It is even harder to see, in these situations, that as a family member you are suffering from powerlessness as well.

One might believe that if they only love the addict enough that they might get well, or that if they win an argument, their loved one might begin to listen to reason. Whatever the thought is, the family member is doing the same thing as their addicted loved one; trying to regain power where there is none to gain. Addiction, whether with the addict or as the family member, is what’s really in charge. There is nothing that one can do to have power when a family is affected with the disease of addiction. The addict believes that they do, and the family continues to seek the upper hand. It can be a vicious cycle that may continue for years. Why fight when there is nothing to be won?

Addiction is a disease where the individual affected is trying to achieve internal comfort from emotional turmoil. When the day comes that the pain of using or drinking is greater than that of the emotional turmoil they experience when not getting loaded, reality of their situation sinks in. They gain experiential awareness that they are powerless. The same must be done with the family. When you see that you have no cards to play which will make the addiction stop, you can admit powerlessness.  Then, you begin to see that what you have been doing is not working. Admitting you are powerless is a powerful step. Beginning to step back, as scary as it is, allows the addict to have their much needed experience. What you do when you detach is make the statement that you will not give power to the powerlessness of the disease of addiction.

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