Tough Love For Addicts Why It Does And Doesnt Work
Weve all heard our grandparents and maybe our parents talk about tough love when dealing with problematic relationships, but is this an effective intervention method for addicts? Since theres no end-all answer when it comes to getting between a drug addict and their substance of choice, it can be easy to rely on older methods of coping with this situation.
Addressing The Misconceptions Behind The Stop Enabling Advice
I feel as though I tread in delicate territory when I try to re-consider this approachbecause it has been so soundly absorbed into common wisdom and accepted truth, but it is based on some profound misconceptions. So I try to help loved ones recognize the misconceptions that underlie the stop enabling advice by pointing out the following facts:
Romantic Relationships When You Have Bipolar Disorder
If you have bipolar disorder, you may already be familiar with the impact your condition can have on a romantic relationship. You may feel nervous about starting a new relationship and finding the right time to tell your partner you have bipolar disorder.
These concerns are understandable, but its important to keep in mind that you can have a healthy romantic relationship. For the best chance of success in a new relationship, be sure to communicate openly and follow your treatment plan.
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Take Care Of Yourself
The family suffers right along with the person who has bipolar disorder, so, its important for you to develop your own coping skills. Only if you take care of yourself can you help someone else. All too often, caregivers end up becoming ill. During training, emergency medical technicians are taught to never put their lives in obvious jeopardy to save someone elses. If they did so, theyd be unable to help anyone. The same is true for you while you are caring for your loved one. Remember that you have yourselfand probably othersto care for as well.
Does Tough Love Actually Work With Addicts
Short answer: maybe. Long answer is its not likely to work, and time is of the essence when it comes to helping someone overcome their addiction. The idea that pain somehow pushes people toward growth may be a truism for many non-addicts, but applying this logic to someone suffering from addiction may not hold true. If you view addiction as not a disease but a symptom of laziness and weakness, then if might makes sense that you think tough love would work. However, other than anecdotal evidence, there is no actual data that confirms whether tough love is actually effective in a clinical sense.
Tough love doesnt make people act like their best selves, instead, it makes them closed off. The person practicing tough love has to to be detached and cool, and the person receiving tough love may shut down and feel isolated. Real love, however, forces people to act out of goodness and from a place that helps, but somewhere in the addiction cycle, is there a place for tough love?
Where Does Tough Love Come From
Most practiced instances of tough love in the United States date back to the 1950s, and a single rehabilitation program, Synanon. This program focused on using a tough approach, punishing ‘bad’ behavior severely, eventually resulting in the death of several people. The program was closed in 1959, but was quickly adopted by multiple other organizations with an incarnation eventually becoming part of an international program pushed by Nancy Reagan.
As a result, a single program advocating punishing mistakes and slipups in recovery became a standard in national recovery methods, and therefore a standard in home care. Today’s professional treatment facilities often don’t use tough love standards, but it’s still used at home.
Trying To Change Your Loved One Looking For A Quick Fix
Many supporters are looking for a quick fix. I dont blame them. Many of us do, when were faced with a difficult situation. But you have to understand that you cant change your loved one they can only change themselves. Getting stable takes time it will NOT happen overnight. It will take patience on your part as a supporter to wait for your loved ones treatment to work. There is no quick fix to recovery from bipolar disorder.
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How Can I Take Care Of Myself So I Can Be There For My Child
Dealing with mental illness is very difficult, acknowledges Dr. Hamilton. Parents need to receive support, educate themselves about the illness, and may want to get counseling themselves. He encourages parents to talk to other parents whove shared similar experiences. Dont be afraid to ask questions and, since a supportive community is essential, consider joining a support group, adds Dr. Brister. The important thing is not to give up.
Bipolar Disorder Onset: National Alliance on Mental Illness. Bipolar Disorder. nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Bipolar-Disorder
State Standards for Involuntary Treatment: Treatment Advocacy Center. State Standards for Initiating Involuntary Treatment. treatmentadvocacycenter.org/storage/documents/state-standards/state-standards-for-initiating-involuntary-treatment.pdf
DBSA Support Groups: Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Support. dbsalliance.org/support/
Not Realizing Your Loved One Can Be Normal Stable And Successful
Yet, along the same lines, some supporters give up too soon. They think that their loved one will never get stable, and this is just as big a mistake. NEVER give up hope on your loved one. With your help and support , there is ALWAYS hope for stability and recovery from bipolar disorder for your loved one. Just like I said before, it wont happen overnight, it will take time, and there will be set-backs and probably more episodes before it happens, but your loved one CAN become stable, normal, and successful. My mom did it!
Have you noticed yourself making any of these 5 big mistakes?
How do you see them happening in your life?
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Does Tough Love Work
While tough love can sometimes force people with substance and alcohol use disorders into treatment, research suggests that more empathetic, voluntary approaches are more effective. For example, studies have shown that a program known as Community Reinforcement and Family Training can help people encourage their loved ones to seek treatment. The program utilizes behavioral principles to reduce substance use, encourage treatment, and reduce the stress felt by the individual’s loved ones.
Research also suggests that compulsory drug treatment may not improve outcomes. Approaches that encourage voluntary treatment may be more effective in getting people to initiate and maintain abstinence.
Why Doesn’t Tough Love Work
We, as people crave affection, belonging, and support. More importantly, we crave those things from the people who mean the most to us, our friends and family. That support and the motivation of family is often the largest driving reason behind a;successful recovery. But tough love approaches cut addicts off from their biggest supporters, giving them reasons to be angry, alone, and afraid and therefore more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism.
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Signs You May Be Enabling An Addict Or Alcoholic
Enablers have a tendency to deny the fact that their loved one is struggling with addiction. Are you an enabler? Here are some common characteristics of an enabler:
- Youre ignoring your loved ones risky behavior even though it may cause them and your family great harm.
- Taking care of the addicts needs before your own. This can take an incredible emotional and physical toll.
- Acting out of fear instead of love. Addiction is a scary experience, and it can change how you react to events.
- Giving your loved one money when you know its likely being used for drugs.
- Blaming everyone and everything for mistakes the addict makes because you want to help them
- Lying to cover for your loved one when theyve done something wrong despite their need for real consequences.
- Ultimately resenting the addict for victimizing and taking advantage of you. Love can turn to hate in these conditions.
Is Tough Love Effective In Treating Addiction
John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine.;For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the;National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism;of the National Institutes of Health .
Tough love is a common expression used to describe any behavior that is a firm, sometimes cold, approach to handling someone’s actions. It is somewhat controversial, particularly when used in the treatment of certain disorders, such as drug addiction or other addictive behaviors.;
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How Much Emotional Space Should I Give My Bipolar Adult Child
Ideally, youve got a supportive, friendly relationship with your grown child that promotes maximum independence, says Robert Hamilton, M.D., a psychiatrist at OSF HealthCare in Normal, IL. How involved you should be depends on how well your son or daughter can function, what their needs are, how well you get along, and what youre able to handle, Dr. Hamilton says. The familys roleparent, partner, sibling, or close friendis to be a consistent source of support and encouragement through the good and the bad, says Teri Brister, L.P.C., national director of research and quality assurance at NAMI.
Why Tough Love Doesn’t Work For Addicts And Alcoholics
First, look at the disease model of addiction, according to David Clark, director of Wired In:
The disease model of alcoholism and drug addiction assumes that they are chronic, progressive illnesses , like other chronic diseases such as Type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Addiction is considered to fit the definition of a medical ailment, involving an abnormality of structure in, or function of, the brain that results in behavioral impairment.
At the heart of this model or theory is that addiction is characterized by a person’s inability to reliably control his use of alcohol or drugs, and an uncontrollable craving or compulsion to drink alcohol or take drugs.1
If your loved one suffered from any other disease, would it make sense to give them tough love by withdrawing from them, belittling, or horse whipping them into remission? That doesnt make sense.
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Helping With Bipolar Depression
The most common emotional state associated with bipolar disorder is depression, and just as a case of clinical depression can alter daily reality so, too, can bipolar depression turn sufferers lives upside down.
Ideally, treatment will help people with bipolar disorder reduce their depression symptoms to a manageable level. But even in the best of circumstances it can take a considerable amount of timeand a number of different bipolar medicationsbefore the sufferer is finally able to get a handle on their bipolar depression. This can make things difficult on family members in the home, who hope for progress and can easily get discouraged if they dont see it.
This type of frustration is understandable. But regardless of what stage of depression someone is experiencing, loved ones can make a positive impact on the healing process in a number of ways.
Heres how family and friends can help:
Begin Your Recovery Journey Today.
Bipolar Relationships: What To Expect
Ups and downs are natural in any romantic relationship, but when your partner has bipolar disorder it can feel like youre on an emotional rollercoaster. Not knowing what to expect each day is stressful and tiring. Over time, it wears on the relationship.
Understanding why your partner acts out sometimes or becomes withdrawn is the first supportive step you can take in strengthening your relationship. Learn exactly what a bipolar diagnosis means, how it could affect your partners behavior and what you can do to foster a healthy, stable relationship.
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What You Can Do
- Tell your partner about your disorder. Do this before you make a long-term commitment to that person. Describe what they can expect when youre experiencing a mood shift. Its also helpful to tell them what you usually do to manage your moods. This way, your partner wont be surprised when you experience a mood episode. They may even be able to help you get through it.
- Stick with your treatment plan. Perhaps the best way to reduce relationship stress is to follow your treatment plan. This can help minimize your symptoms and reduce the severity of your shifts in mood. Discuss your treatment plan with your partner so they can help you keep on track.
- Keep an open line of communication. Tell your partner when you feel a mood shift occurring so theyre not alarmed by a sudden change in your demeanor. Also, be open to them when they tell you that they notice that your mood is different. Many times, others can see changes in our mood when we cannot.
- Be honest. If youre having a severe episode and struggling with your symptoms, dont hesitate to notify your partner and ask for help when you need it. For example, if youre experiencing a depressive episode and dont feel like leaving the house, explain this to your partner instead of making an excuse to stay home.
A Collaborative Mental Health Blog
Tough love is defined as.
promotion of a persons welfare, especially that of an addict, child, or criminal, by enforcing certain constraints on them, or requiring them to take responsibility for their
It brings me to questions though. is tough love useful or does it work at all? For me personally no. It makes me feel worse even though I remind my parents it doesnt help they are adamant they know best and it will help me. To be met at times of desperation with shouting and shaking, or be removed out of your bed doesnt help at all. It sets off a nerve in me of panic. I need them to understand that I cant get better 100mph all at once. I need to take steps in m own time and when I am ready too. I feel that too much too soon will only see me fall back into a downward rollercoaster.Of course, I appreciate what they are doing and I know they are doing it because they love me. But to be told to think about someone else instead of myself, is that really any help to a person with depression and anxiety at all?
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Go To Couples Counseling
Couples counseling is essential for working through upset over a bipolar partners actions. Its common for someone with bipolar disorder to hurt and offend their partner. When someone is first diagnosed, there are often relationship issues that need to be addressed. Couples counseling can help you:
- Understand that theres an illness involved in the hurtful behavior.
- Forgive the behavior that happened during an altered mood state.
- Set boundaries with a partner about maintaining treatment.
Find A Healthy Balance
There are so many questions: How much should I be willing to do? Should we use tough love? How long does this go on? How long should we wait before we intervene? and on and on and on. Bipolar disorder is tough. Its like walking a tightrope sometimes, where youve got to learn to balance your own welfare with the interest you have in supporting the person with bipolar. You also have to find a healthy balance when it comes to the support you offer. Learn to take things in stride, one day at a time. Theres a time to help and a time to step back; a time to speak and a time to listen; a time to be patient and a time to be insistent.
Now, you have some valuable points to ponder as you help your loved one pursue recovery. The more youre in the know, the better equipped you are to offer the type of support that can make a positive difference. The reward is a brighter, happier futurefor everyone involved.
I know its worth the effort.
Printed as Points to ponder: Help from parents, partners, and pals, Fall 2005
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What Does It Mean To Enable Someone
Mental illness affects a persons behavior. For example, when someone is depressed, just getting out of bed in the morning can seem impossible. This can obviously make it hard to do well in school, or to hold down a job. If the person doesnt get some kind of treatment to improve their condition, their life will only get harderand that will make their depression even worse.
Its hard to see someone you care about suffer like that. So some people will try to help by shielding the person from the consequences. For example, you could let your depressed friend sleep on your couch without having to pay rent. Now it doesnt matter if they cant hold down a job, because at least they know they have a place to sleep.
Thats fine if the person is making an effort to get better, or if its only temporary while they get back on their feet. But if it becomes a permanent thing, youre not helping them get betteryoure helping them stay sick. Youre making the symptoms easier to bear without doing anything to address the root cause of their depression. Thats enabling. When it becomes a pattern, its called codependency.