For Families of Addicts


rock singerWhen you’re struggling with a drug and alcohol addiction, having sober role models to look up to can help you stay motivated on the path to recovery. If you’re in need of celebrity inspiration, these 7 recovering substance abusers prove that great things are possible when you’re willing to commit yourself to getting the help you need.

1. Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr.’s story is one of the most incredible Hollywood comebacks. After being one of the most popular actors in the late 1980s and 1990s, he became virtually unemployable due to his struggles with drugs and alcohol. He was arrested multiple times, served a year in California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, and lost most of his fortune.

Downey has been sober since 2003, relying on a combination of 12-step programs, yoga, meditation, and therapy to stay clean. His role as Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe officially landed him back on top as an A-list Hollywood celeb.

2. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey was raised in poverty by a single teenage mother, but rose above her early struggles to build a massive media empire and become a notable activist/philanthropist. Her influence is so substantial that she’s often referred to as one of the world’s most powerful women.

Winfrey’s struggle with addiction occurred in her 20s, when a man she was dating introduced her to crack cocaine. She kept her substance abuse disorder a secret until spontaneously offering up the information in a 1995 show featuring mothers battling drug addiction. Today, she continues to remind those in recovery that a better future is always possible.

3. Matthew Perry

Best known for his role as Chandler Bing on Friends, Matthew Perry has struggled with addiction to opioids, amphetamines, and alcohol. He attended several different rehab programs in the late 1990s and early 2000s in search of a lasting recovery.

Since getting clean, Perry has channeled his influence into helping others who struggle with addiction. In 2011, he lobbied on Capitol Hill as a celebrity spokesperson for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. In May 2013, he received a Champion of Recovery award from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy for creating Perry House, a sober living home located in his former home in Malibu, California.

4. Drew Barrymore

As a popular child actress in a family of Hollywood legends, Drew Barrymore grew up with easy access to addictive substances. She was drinking at 11, using marijuana at 12, and snorting cocaine at 13. By 14, she entered rehab for the first time.

Barrymore has been sober since her late teen years, crediting her recovery to the network of supportive friends she built for herself after becoming legally emancipated at 15. Since getting clean, she’s branched out beyond acting to become a producer, director, author, and cosmetics entrepreneur.

5. Russell Brand

Actor and comedian Russell Brand has been sober since 2002, crediting transcendental meditation and the Focus 12 drug treatment program with helping him to stay clean. In addition to serving as a sponsor for others in recovery, he’s helped bring awareness to the struggles of addiction with the two documentaries: End the Drugs War and Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery.

Since getting clean, Brand has turned his attention towards political activism and building a family. He married Scottish lifestyle blogger Laura Gallacher in July 2016 and their daughter Mabel was born later that year.

6. Jamie Lee Curtis

Prescription painkiller addiction continues to rise, affecting many people who would never consider touching illegal drugs. Actress Jamie Lee Curtis developed her addiction to painkillers after a cosmetic surgery when she was 35, eventually mixing the pills with alcohol.

Curtis says her addiction developed as a way to self-medicate her depression, but she was inspired to seek treatment after seeing how her substance abuse was affecting her young daughter. She’s been clean for several years and continues to urge those who are struggling with mental health issues to seek therapy.

8. Keith Urban

Country music star Keith Urban has battled drug addiction since the early 1990s. Urban credits his wife, Nicole Kidman, with helping him to finally kick the habit. After witnessing his behavior spiraling out of control in 2006, Kidman staged an intervention.

Since getting sober, Urban has released 14 number one hit songs and served as a celebrity judge on the hit reality singing competition American Idol. He also become a father of two daughters, born in 2008 and 2010.

By Dana Hinders

 

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Codependent coupleCodependency is a common response to the challenges associated with loving someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, even though the behaviors associated with codependency can seem positive on the surface, they will eventually have the negative effect of continuing to enable your loved one’s addiction.

Understanding Codependency

The term codependent refers to an excessive psychological or emotional reliance on another person to meet one’s own needs. Someone who suffers from a codependent personality will likely agree with the following statements:

  • I enjoy acting as a caretaker.
  • I seek out people who are in crisis so I can “rescue” them.
  • Pleasing people makes me happy.
  • Setting firm boundaries in a relationship is hard for me.
  • My moods are controlled by the thoughts and feelings of everyone around me.
  • I find it difficult to accurately describe my feelings to others.
  • I always want to be in control.
  • I have a hard time trusting other people.
  • I’d rather be in a broken or abusive relationship than be alone.

Codependency is often thought to be caused by low self-esteem, although it is a common response to the trauma associated with loving someone who suffers from addiction. Addicts are notorious for their unpredictable behavior, which can make those closest to them fight harder to maintain a sense of order and control over their environment.

The term codependency was first applied to the spouses of addicts, but codependent relationships can take many forms. Parents, children, and friends of substance abusers can all find themselves trapped in a cycle of codependency.

Enabling Addiction

Codependency is essentially a “helping” relationship taken to the extreme. Wanting to be kind to others is admirable. However, your actions do more harm than good if you’re unable to set clear boundaries.

For example:

  • You justify a loved one drinking or using drugs by saying the addict has had a stressful day or needs to relax.
  • You make excuses when the addict can’t come to social functions because he or she is under the influence.
  • You apologize to others on behalf of the person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol.
  • You loan money when financial problems are caused by drugs or alcohol.

All of these behaviors prevent your loved one from experiencing the full consequences of his or her addiction. When someone is always around to pick up the pieces, a substance abuser is able to stay in denial about the extent of his or her problem. When he or she is allowed to be irresponsible, self-destructive, and cruel to others without fear of reprisal, there is no incentive to seek treatment.

How to Stop the Cycle

Codependency creates a vicious cycle that harms both partners. Move towards a healthier relationship by keeping in mind the following tips:

  • Educate yourself. ┬áReading about codependency and attending support groups for the friends and family of addicts can help gather insight into the reasons behind your behavior and how your actions are harming your relationship.
  • Treat co-occurring disorders. People who suffer from codependency often have accompanying mental health problems such as depression or anxiety. Treating these issues is essential to stopping codependent behavior. Medication and therapy may be necessary.
  • Establish boundaries. Setting clear boundaries for yourself will help you overcome the urge to enable addiction-related behaviors from your loved one. For example, you may decide that you’ll no longer answer text messages sent while you’re at work, that you will decline to spend time around your loved one when it’s obvious that he or she has been using, or that you’ll no apologize to others when your loved one acts inappropriately.
  • Spend time alone. When you’re in a codependent relationship, your sense of self starts to become intertwined with the other person’s mood, thoughts, and feelings. Breaking the cycle require you to establish an independent identity. This may mean taking up a new solo hobby or pursing a special interest that you’ve previously ignored due to the time demands associated with caring for your addicted friend or family member. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it’s something you enjoy doing by yourself.

At first, these actions might feel like they are selfish and unfair to your loved one. However, you won’t be in any position to support your friend or family member through addiction recovery unless you actively make time to address your own mental health needs. In the long term, breaking the cycle of codependency is the kindest and most compassionate way to get your loved one the help he or she needs.

By Dana Hinders

Post rehab dos and donts

When your loved one comes home from rehab, it’s natural to be nervous about what comes next. This guide will give you a basic framework for navigating some of the common challenges faced during the post-rehab adjustment period.

Do Take Time to Educate Yourself

If you’ve never struggled with drug or alcohol abuse yourself, it can be hard to understand what someone in recovery is going through. However, there are many excellent resources available to help you learn more about the roots of addiction and how to best support your loved one during the recovery process. Start by seeing what resources your loved one’s counselor recommends or by attending a friends and family support group such as Al-Anon.

Resources from St. Joseph Institute for Addiction that you might find helpful include:
What Is Withdrawal?
Principles of Effective Addiction Treatment
Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders: A Double Whammy for Treatment Goals

Do Ask Open-Ended Questions

When it comes to talking about recovery, everyone is different in regards to what they feel comfortable sharing. Some people want to share every detail, while others are slower to open up. You can express your support without prying with a simple, “How are you feeling?” or “What did you do today?”

To avoid making your loved one feel as though they’re being put on the spot, remember that a conversation is a two-way street. Make an effort to share details about the activities of your own day as well as your future plans. Your goal should be to foster a meaningful dialogue so it doesn’t feel as though you’re simply lecturing or criticizing.

Do Engage in Acts of Service

Verbally expressing your support is a good start, but sometimes actions speak louder than words. Show your support for your loved one’s recovery by offering transportation to appointments, the supplies or resources necessary to begin a new sober hobby, or assistance picking out clothes for a job interview. An invitation for a home cooked meal or a drug and alcohol free social engagement are also great options to consider.

If you’re not sure how to best be of service, don’t be afraid to ask. “What can I do to help you?” is always a good way to open the lines of communication. Your loved one may have ideas that you never would have considered on your own.

Don’t Rehash the Past

Your loved one is well aware of the mistakes he or she has made while struggling with addiction. Focusing on past mistakes will only keep you from moving forward in your relationship, especially if your loved one starts to feel like you’re blaming him or her for what has happened. Nobody can change the past, so it’s best to keep your focus on the future.

If you need to process your feelings about past events, vent to a trusted friend or write down your thoughts in a journal. This will help you keep a level head when dealing with your loved one in recovery.

Don’t Neglect Yourself

Loving a recovering addict can be stressful. It’s easy to spend so much time worrying about how to help your friend or family member that you forget to make time to take care of yourself. But, if you’re exhausted and overwhelmed, you won’t be able to effectively support your loved one during the recovery process.

Set a regular sleep schedule, eat nutritious meals, exercise regularly, and make time for stress-relieving activities that you enjoy. You’ll feel better about yourself and be setting a good example for your loved one of how to live a sober lifestyle.

Don’t Think of Rehab as a Cure

Addiction is a chronic illness. Your loved one may be sober now, but he or she is not cured in the sense that addiction will never be an issue again. Just as a diabetic needs to take insulin and manage blood sugar with diet and exercise, a recovering addict needs to remain vigilant to stay on top of relapse triggers. Rehab sets the foundation for a successful recovery. It’s not a quick fix.

Always remember that recovery is a journey that must be taken one step at a time. Your loved one may experience obstacles and setbacks along the way, but this does not mean that sobriety is impossible. It simply means that it may take some time to find a treatment plan that works best for his or her individual needs.

By Dana Hinders

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