Bigger Than Me – Stigma and Family

This week on Bigger Than Me, Rocky tackles a subject that has affected who have dealt with addiction. Whether they be on the side of the addict or the family member, how does the family deal with stigma? It affects everyone from the person who is seeking help, to the family members. How can we overcome the feelings of guilt, shame, and blame?

We kicked off this podcast with the perspective of the person struggling with substance abuse. It can quickly turn into not wanting to reach out to those closest to because of the fear of their reactions. Especially when dealing with the choice vs. disease aspect of stigma, it can quickly turn into a blame game with yourself. Knowing you should be making better decisions but it doesn’t happen, you can’t stop.

The expectations we put on ourselves also come into play. Bri states how she kept using and drinking because she was scared to let her family down again. She didn’t want to try for fear that she wouldn’t be able to maintain sobriety after leaving treatment. The irrational thinking and negative connotations we have in our heads can stunt any growth for a long time.

“The man takes a drink; the drink takes a drink, the drink takes the man.” Said Rocky, stating how we often feed into our delusional thoughts of ‘it will be different this time’ or ‘I can control it.’ After giving sobriety and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous an honest try, he came to realize what he calls B.D.O and A.D.O. Before reading the Doctor’s Opinion in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, and after reading it. It taught Rocky that he had continuously tried taking the easier, softer way and would continually end up getting high again.

Having the small gem of knowledge that he didn’t have a moral deficiency led to him having a little bit of compassion for himself. Knowledge is power.

Family Views

Time and time again, we’ve heard that addiction is a family disease. What does that mean? Although only one person is directly intoxicated as a result of their consumption of drugs and alcohol, their actions and behaviors affect all those around them. When someone in the family tries to address the issue of the person using, it often goes negatively.

Under the influence of drugs and alcohol addicts will often deny. EVERYTHING. It’s easier to pretend everything is okay, even when it is glaringly apparent that it’s not. This often leads to the parents, siblings, loved ones blaming themselves. This was when the questions of ‘where did I go wrong’ ‘why am I not enough’ ‘What could I have done/not done’ come into play. These are toxic thoughts. Thoughts like these cause blame, making yourself as sick as your loved one.

Where do we Start to Heal the Family?

There are many options for help for family and loved ones! Healing is a process; setting boundaries take practice and diligence. This is not an overnight process. Just as the person struggling with addiction must take things one day at a time in their recovery, so does the family. It’s an inside job. There are many resources available to both those in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse and the families.

What are some of the things that have helped you? How can we stop perpetuating stigma? Join the conversation today and become a part of our Sober Community!

Resources:

Al-Anon 

Nar-Anon 

CoDA