For every person who has a substance or process addiction – such as alcohol, other drugs, sex, pornography, shopping, or gambling – there are many people in their lives directly affected by the addiction of this important person. Certainly parents and siblings are affected along with other relatives. Partners and friends are affected as are co-workers, teachers, employers, and neighbors. Even strangers may have an interaction with the addict that has a powerful and lasting affect on them.
I can not provide an exact number of persons affected by the addictive use of an individual. That would vary case-to-case. But suffice it to say there are a number of people who experience the ripple effects of the addiction. Years ago in my clinical practice, I was explaining Al-Anon to a client. “Al-Anon is for family and friends of alcoholics,” I stated. To which she responded, “Then everyone should be in Al-Anon.”
Her comments spoke of the prevalence of knowing and/or living with someone with an addiction. I appreciate her wise understanding and honesty.
The addiction of someone else can easily draw our focus away from our own center. The excitement, drama, and concern brought into our lives by the addiction of someone else can disconnect us from our very self. What we needed to do for our self today was dropped. What we had set as a clear and healthy boundary for our self was disregarded by either the other person and/or by our self. What we had told our self would never happen again happened.
Care for our self as we live with addiction and recovery from addiction is imperative. To be able to bring and maintain that healthy focus on our self is the cornerstone of our recovery from the codependency that can have us, as the subtitle of my book Disentangle: When You’ve Lost Yourself in Someone Else describes, losing our self in someone else. Disentangle is designed to help in this process of healthy self connection and growth offering ideas and skills in Facing Illusions, Detaching, Setting Healthy Boundaries, and Developing Spirituality.
Making this change to balanced care for self as we care for others is a major shift in our way of being and a necessary one for the healthy recovery of both the addict and those of us affected by the addiction of someone else.