And We All Fall Down

“I believe that when a loved one hits bottom they take the entire family with them.”

I’ve spoken with many families who have a loved one that is struggling with a substance use disorder.  I’m amazed by the countless number of families that are looking for advice about what to do, what to say, even how to bring up the subject when they suspect their child is using drugs. Many families have gotten suggestions and recommendations from friends, organizations, websites, books, pastors and peer groups.  Some families have even created their own approaches by, “taking a little of this and adding a little of that.”

Whatever they decide to do, whatever direction they decide to take, I always remind them that addiction is a family disease and your choices and your decisions will impact every single family member in some way.

I believe that when a loved one hits bottom they take the entire family with them.  I know.  When my twin brother hit bottom, I spiritually, mentally and… in a manner of speaking…physically went there with him.  I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat.  I felt his pain, anguish, rejection and shame… and I no longer had the strength or ability to help him fight for his life. I had hit my bottom too.

So the advice I give is to chose an approach that includes love and kindness.  Yes, you can love your child, your spouse, your partner into sobriety.  Yes, you can love your loved one through recovery. Reward them when they do something right.  Acknowledge their achievements. Remind them that you love them unconditionally.  It means more than you can imagine, because at times they don’t even love themselves.

The more I learn about this horrific disease the more I admire and respect my twin brother. He is my hero, my inspiration and I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing twin.

DID YOU KNOW?
Spending quality time together as a family can help your loved ones who are struggling with a substance use disorder.

When Addiction Hits Home

“Our isolation made us feel like we were the only family in the world with a loved one battling an addiction. We thought we were all alone.”

It seems like yesterday when this photo was taken. Mom, stood proud and tall with her four children; Cerves- her oldest son, Theresa- her youngest daughter and Lawrence and Lorraine- her fraternal twins. It was a few days after my Dad’s funeral that’s why he’s not in the photo.  My older brother and his wife, Liz were headed back to California, so we decided to take one last photo.  On that day, little did I know this would be the last photo with all four siblings.  Over the next few years there would be lots of phone calls, Christmas presents, birthday cards, graduations and celebrations…  but there would never be another photo with Mom standing proud and tall with all four of her children.  On that day, little did I know that a few years later my twin brother would lose his battle with addiction and die from a drug overdose and never again be part of our lives.

Larry (Lawrence) struggled with his addictions for many years and I knew he was struggling that day. I knew because he always wore dark sunglasses whenever he got high.  His sunglasses hid his fiery red eyes which was a dead give-away whenever he got high.  We struggled as a family to try to help him and help ourselves.  We never talked about his addiction outside of the family.  At times we were frightened, confused and overwhelmed, but there was nowhere to go.  No one to talk to.  Our isolation made us feel like we were the only family in the world with a loved one battling an addiction. We thought we were all alone.

FACT:
There are 23 million Americans addicted to drugs or alcohol.