Al-Anon is a support program comprised of different communities of friends and family members of alcoholics. These individuals are able to find fellowship and healing by sharing their thoughts, feelings, experiences, and more with other like-minded individuals. The program also provides tools to aid these friends and family in understanding addiction and how to help their loved ones.
Working as a support network, Al-Anon utilizes sharing stories of the past and present to help healing and understanding properly occur. This helps the members understand and heal from the consequences of their loved one’s alcoholism. Al-Anon ultimately helps the families of addicts by educating them about addiction’s causes and control by providing them with the best tools to help their loved ones.
Many times, the people who are closest to a person suffering from substance abuse do not understand the proper way to help them. They may harbor feelings of guilt, shame, anger, and more as their loved one is going through a terrible ordeal. The Three C’s are a method used to educate these individuals on addiction by helping them understand its different aspects.
The Three C’s
- I didn’t CAUSE it.
- I can’t CURE it.
- I can’t CONTROL it.
These simple statements help addicts and their loved ones understand addiction and how to recover from it in a new light. Specifically, they work to help loved ones overcome their feelings of guilt and grief. Through this education, families will be better suited to help their loved ones in their journey to sobriety.
People who are close to addicts usually fall into one of three categories:
- Feeling guilty because they are the cause of the addiction
- Thinking if only they could do X, Y, and Z, they could help their loved one stop using
- Thinking if only they could completely separate their loved one from drugs and alcohol, they could get them to stop using
All of these beliefs are misconceptions and can hinder a person’s ability to recover. There are proper actions to take to support someone going through addiction, but healing them or stopping their usage is not anyone else’s responsibility but the addict themselves.
I Didn’t Cause It
For many people, especially parents and other close family members, understanding that they did not cause the addiction can be a hard concept to understand. Addiction is a chronic disease and must be treated as such. It is no one’s “fault.”
It’s a common occurrence for those going through an addiction to project blame on the people close to them rather than take responsibility for their actions. Knowing that you as a loved one did not cause the addiction can save you from feelings of guilt and help you be better suited to helping them. In recovery, the addict will learn to take responsibility for their actions and how they hurt those close to them.
I Can’t Cure It
As stated before, addiction is a chronic brain disease. It cannot ever be completely cured, but it can be managed through treatment. As a loved one, you should never feel the responsibility of curing an addict. Proper rehabilitation and treatment must take place for one to recover from an addiction.
After rehab, treatment can continue in the form of sober living homes, support groups, therapy, and other options to teach past addicts how to live independently, support themselves, and manage their triggers in a healthy way.
The best “cure” for addiction is continual support. This helps reduce the risks of relapse when the person knows they have loved ones to lean on.
I Can’t Control It
After using drugs and alcohol for an extended period of time, a person’s brain chemistry changes. The substance begins to take control of rational thinking. This means their actions are then influenced by the substance itself.
This is why the decision to detox or go to rehab must be made by the addict themselves. Forced detox or rehab can work — but at the end of the day, the addict must realize the severity of their situation and then commit to making a change.
You as a loved one cannot control if an addict keeps using. Therefore, you shouldn’t feel guilty for their actions. It can be heartbreaking to watch someone you love slip into the tragedy of addiction, but you cannot control their actions.
How to Help an Addict
There are a number of things you can do to help a person suffering from addiction. First and foremost, learn and understand the three C’s. Go to an Al-Anon meeting and learn about alcoholism in depth. Get your own sponsor, preferably someone who has gone through living with an alcoholic. You should not go through this process alone, just as the addict should not go through recovery alone.
You can also follow the 12-Step program provided by Al-Anon. Working to support your loved one properly is the best thing you can do for them. Perhaps most importantly, be realistic about their recovery. Becoming sober will not fix all of their problems, and they may not become sober as quickly as you would like them to. Be realistic and supportive, as any feelings of disappointment you have can cause them more stress, possibly leading to relapse.
Watching someone you love fall victim to addiction can be devastating. Feelings of guilt, shame, and remorse may overcome you as you wonder what you could have done differently — but their addiction is not your fault in any way. Support yourself by educating yourself, practicing self-care, and more. Remember the three C’s of Al-Anon and remind yourself of them daily. You cannot help your loved one if you are not okay too.
By properly educating yourself, you can make the ultimate difference in your loved one’s recovery. At Camelback Recovery, our transitional housing helps past addicts learn how to live independently. We are ready to help you and your loved one heal. To learn more, call us today at (602) 466-9880.