The Gift of Anger—Learning to Allow and Accept the Emotion

By | Anger | No Comments

By Toshia Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

Too often in today’s society we are asked to suppress or deny our anger. Concepts like the power of positive thinking andmanifesting our reality can work to steer us away from fully feeling and expressing our anger. Moreover, they may imply and impose upon us a dangerous level of guilt and shame for desiring to do so. The latter is something we likely already acquired in ample supply from our days in active addiction or dysfunction. Besides, where guilt and shame serve only to hurt us, anger can actually help us heal.

Anger is often a demonized emotion. Many people fear it, not knowing how to appropriately confront, express or release it. Some simply try to deny or dismiss it. However, the vast majority of people—in active addiction, recovering or not—simply believe it to be a state of victimization. Even some specialists within the addiction treatment field see anger as result of a lack of gratitude or an emotional expression of self-pity.

However, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to feel and express anger while simultaneously maintaining a sense of gratitude. But the awareness of lessons learned and ability to see a silver lining does not negate the justification for anger. Moreover, to deny ourselves or anyone else the right to feel and express it is to engage in oppressive recovery—the opposite of helping and a setup for relapse.

Truthfully, anger is indeed a gift. It is an internal alarm that loudly sounds when personal boundaries have been repeatedly crossed or disrespected. Anger amplifies our voice when we desperately need to speak and be heard and wakes us from a potentially holistically comatose state. Additionally, it is a normal, expected and necessary stage of grief, personal growth and healing.

As such, it is vital to successful recovery for individuals and helping professionals to learn to allow and accept the gift of anger within ourselves and others. After all, it is not anger that destroys us or causes us to relapse. But, in fact, the suppression of it can easily do both.

Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst

By | Addiction in the Workplace | No Comments

By Toshia Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

No business owner wants to assume addiction in the workplace will be an issue. To plan for it sometimes feels like an omen or self-fulfilling prophecy. However, refusing to have a plan in place for the worst case scenario leaves businesses unprepared and results in a detrimental reactive state. It is far better to initially take a professional proactive stance.

Preventative measures normally utilized during the hiring process simply do not guarantee problems like addiction in the workplace will not occur. Prevention is certainly a step all companies should take. However, even if the company chooses a method of drug testing that is fail-proof, not hiring an active addict does not prevent relapse for recovering addicts hired or currently employed. Additionally, it does nothing for employees who may be developing chemical dependency.

Termination is not always the simple answer. Many valued employees, managers and even business owners struggle with addiction. It is a disease and, therefore, does not discriminate. Fortunately for businesses, there are ways of confronting addiction in the workplace, protecting the business and its employees, addressing any resulting issues while still offering compassion and, eventually, an opportunity to return to or maintain employment with the company.

Below are six possibilities:

  • Incorporating addiction and recovery education for management and staff
  • Supplying training opportunities for management/staff to assist in identifying signs of addiction
  • Providing opportunities for staff to attend addiction and recovery presentations and/or conferences
  • Offering a leave of absence—similar to maternity leave—that allots time for addicted employees to receive adequate drug/alcohol treatment
  • Opting for insurance that covers drug treatment
  • Collaborating with intensive outpatient programs designed to assist recovering individuals who relapse

Any or all of these can easily be incorporated into a company’s policies and procedures. Each provide feasible ways of being proactive with regard to addiction in the workplace. Of course, business owners should always hope for the best with regard to their employees, themselves and their business. But, as any business-minded person knows, preparing for the worst is the best way to prevent panic, chaos and the ultimate demise of the company.

If you are a business owner in need of resources for the aforementioned list of proactive possibilities for your company, contact Stages of Recovery via our hotline: 1-844-6-GETHELP.

The Risk for Businesses

By | Addiction in the Workplace | No Comments

By Toshia Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

Addiction in the workplace poses many potential problems for businesses. Of course, the main threat is chaos within the work environment and business system. However, chaos plays out in various ways for businesses and, like families, affects more than just the addict and the business as an entity. It is toxic to the entire system and all those working within and relying on it.

This trickle-down effect creates resentment, decreased productivity, shatters morale and ultimately causes a lack of respect for management, employers, business owners and the company itself. Additionally, it generally creates an unsafe work environment. Though there may not be direct physical threats on individuals as a result of addiction in the workplace, there are negative emotional/psychological ramifications for non-addicted employees which often leads to poor performance and eventually resignation or termination.

The potential loss of valued employees and overall shift in the internal view of the company, its mission and founders is just the tip of the iceberg. There are external risks to consider as well. Companies rely on their employees to maintain and operate the business. But, it is the consumers, clients, customers, etc., who fortify the company with the means to operate and employ those individuals. If representation becomes tainted by way of addiction and the aforementioned negative effects, the reputation of the company is suddenly in question and financial support is easily lost.

The point is simple: Addiction is a disease, and disease spreads.

The toxicity either climbs the corporate ladder and eventually negatively impacts even those far removed from the reaches of the addicted employee or spirals downward, knocking off each rung of the ladder on its way down. Ultimately, the company plummets to rock bottom alongside the addict. In other words, nothing good comes from addiction in the workplace, so there’s never a good or justifiable reason to enable or allow it to continue.

Though the latter seems obvious to most, many employers and businesses find it difficult to terminate an employee based solely on the presence of addiction. Considering the fact that addiction is generally viewed and referred to as a disease, they find it troubling—both legally and personally—to dismiss someone from their professional duties based on the realization of the onset of an illness.

However, like any other disease, if left untreated, addiction will advance and worsen. As such, it is important for business owners and employers to realize that continuing to employ an active addict or alcoholic is no different or less enabling than employing a person with untreated, advanced diabetes. Moreover, for a business owner, it is a form of self-sabotage.

The physical and mental health of an individual directly affects their ability to show up, be mentally present, perform required tasks and perpetuate and participate in the positive forward movement of the company. Additionally, poor physical and mental health creates risk for not only the addicted employee but other staff members as well. The risks far outweigh any short-term perceived benefits of enabling active addiction in the workplace.

The Problem with Prevention

By | Addiction in the Workplace | No Comments

By Toshia Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

Many businesses often encounter addiction in the workplace. Some set up drug testing as a preventative screening tool during the hiring process to avoid such occurrences. However, most addicts and substance abusers are aware of the half-life of their substance of choice. As such, they know just how long to abstain in order to pass a drug test. Additionally, there are methods of over-the-counter detox, easily purchased and readily accessible day or night, which prevent positive drug tests.

Some readers might believe traditional urinalysis drug testing is a measure put in place to prevent even the recreational use of drugs, and in that way highly beneficial and successful. However, it is only so with those companies who administer random drug testing throughout the duration of employment. And, with regard to random, there are very few companies who don’t disclose the onset of a test with some degree of advanced notice. In that way, the sole purpose of the test is basically sabotaged.

The only fail-proof way to test for illicit drugs is through hair follicles. However, those tests are rather expensive and tedious and often present false positives. Though the turnaround time for results is improving with advanced technology, it is simply not always feasible for the purposes of hiring or maintaining drug-free employees. Besides, addicts will search and typically find ways to pass any drug test or obscure results, even willingly shaving their heads to avoid a positive result.*

Truth be told, there is no limit to what an addict will do to avoid the negative consequences which might lead to a realization of a real problem. However, simply not applying is not necessarily on that list. Remember, manipulation is a skill drug addicts and alcoholics master.

Consequently, though companies believe drug testing prevents the inadvertent hiring of an active drug addict, it doesn’t do much of anything other than reinforce an addict’s manipulative tactics and methods of denial and increase the false sense of security for businesses and non-addicted employees. Moreover, drug testing does absolutely nothing—and seeks to do less—to prevent the hiring of active alcoholics.

How does it seek to do less?

Well, drug testing is simply that; a test designed to screen for drug use, including alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs. However, since alcohol is a socially accepted drug, the stigma for even the recreational use of illegal drugs is quite different. In fact, most helping professionals (including myself) differentiate the terms; addicts and alcoholics.

When companies require drug testing, they are implying by way of omission and semantics that no other form of substance use, abuse or addiction is problematic or even considered with regard to hiring. Hence, the reason recreational alcohol consumers rarely fear a drug test, yet recreational marijuana smokers stock op on Goldenseal and other urine cleansing agents in preparation for one.** Additionally, drug testing does not test for alcohol in the same way it might for opioids or amphetamines due to the vast variation in half-life.

Though a high BAC (blood-alcohol concentration) would certainly raise a red flag and prevent hiring, an individual would need to be literally drunk during the hiring process. Though that is not unheard of, as advanced stages of alcoholism and addiction certainly require a certain degree of intoxication for normalization and the prevention of withdrawal symptoms, it is not the only marker for alcoholism. Testing the urine or blood for alcohol would merely prevent the hiring of an alcoholic in the advanced stages of the disease, as most companies would not likely decide not to hire someone with trace amounts of alcohol in their system.

The problem with prevention with regard to businesses is because of the nature of addiction and drugs in general, there is no certainty in the screening process. Additionally, due to society’s vague definition of addiction, the preventative measures don’t account for alcoholism—the nation’s #1 disease and most frequently occurring and problematic addiction known to businesses. As such, though prevention is of course the first step, it is not the only one businesses should take in an effort to remain proactive with regard to addiction in the workplace.

[Note: With regard to hair follicle drug test, unless eyebrows, eyelashes and all other hairs are removed from the body prior to a hair follicle drug test, shaving one’s head will not prevent the presentation of a sample or a positive result. Moreover, mandatory drug testing by definition implies one must provide a sample to be tested. As such, if an individual agrees to mandatory testing, a sample will be provided and tested, regardless.] [Note: There is no evidence of Goldenseal actually detoxing urine and preventing a positive drug test result. However, many still consider it a go-to for detoxing prior to drug testing.

A Dangerous Misconception

By | Addiction in the Workplace | No Comments

By Toshia Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

Addiction does not confine itself to weekends. It is a disease, and like any disease, it is chronic. In other words, it doesn’t go away nor can it be placed on hold for any reason. As such, it not only makes a constant appearance in the home. It shows up in the workplace too.

Addiction in the workplace is a common occurrence. That’s a reality the general population might not believe. The reason? Well, most people who have little to no education in the field of addiction believe it to be an affliction that instantly lands an individual in the unemployment line, jail and/or on the streets. However, the idea that addicts and alcoholics are homeless, jobless bums is not only a false one; it’s a dangerous misconception.

Many addicts are actually very high-functioning, meaning they still maintain employment. Some even experience a great degree of financial success, accomplish day-to-day tasks and present with a certain level of responsibility not generally expected from addicts. In these situations, the devastating effects of problematic behavior typically occurs in the home and becomes more obvious in private, interpersonal relationships.

As a result, these high-functioning addicted individuals often go undiagnosed and untreated. Because they lack a degree of negative social consequences—those which threaten physical survival and socio-economic status—and still see a level of reward in their lives via monetary gain and material possessions, they often fail to see a need for help. After all, rock bottom doesn’t look so bad when it comes with a penthouse view. Right?


There’s where the danger lies—the idea that only the loss of employment, material possessions and personal freedom constitutes a real problem; aka, addiction. This misconception not only keeps high-functioning addicts from seeing the need for help. It also perpetuates a detrimentally enabling society; one that champions individuals based solely on financial gain and social status, regardless of their crumbling relationships, lack of emotional availability, deteriorating mental health, character or integrity.

The latter is something money cannot buy. Drugs, however, money can. And, as long as addicts remain gainfully employed, their addiction will progress without much contemplation for change.

The Codependent Fable: A Learning to Let Go Version

By | Literature | No Comments

By Toshia C. Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

A woman was walking along a bridge and noticed a man standing near the edge. As she approached, the man called to her,

“Excuse me, ma’am. Can you please hold this rope for a moment?”

The woman, wanting to be helpful, easily agreed without giving thought to her busy schedule, her destination or the dreams that awaited her on the other side.

“Hold the rope tightly, please,” the man instructed.

She grasped the rope tightly. She began to wonder what exactly her purpose would be, and she became concerned with time. She had a million things to do, all of which would open doors to personal success and long-awaited opportunity. Yet, she made no mention of the time for fear of what the man might think. She wanted to appear helpful, selfless, compassionate and kind.

So, she stood there holding the rope, gripping it tightly.

Suddenly, the man leaped off the bridge. The weight of his body dropping to the depths below pulled her violently to the edge. Stopped only by the safety railing, she found herself staring down at the man who now dangled precariously from the rope she was holding.

Little did she know, while she was thinking about her dreams that awaited her on the other side, the increasing scarcity of time and finding herself perplexed by her obvious need to set boundaries versus her tendency toward people-pleasing, the man was busy affixing the rope to his body. Now, she found herself in charge of this man’s safety. His life was literally hanging in the balance, and the rope to which she was now grasping was his only hope for rescue.

“What have you done?” She screamed. “You must climb up! I cannot hold you. Your weight is too much for me to bear. The rope is slipping. Climb up!”

She tried desperately to cling to the rope, bracing her body against the edge of the bridge, but the fibers were now ripping into the flesh of her hands. Her arms were already noticeably scraped and bloody from the concrete edge on which they now attempted to rest. But the constant pull of the man’s body, as it dangled and swung below, shifted her weight, and with every shift came a painful blow from the concrete’s rough surface.

“Climb up!” She shouted. “I cannot hold you any longer.”

The man stared up at her and screamed,

“You must hold the rope! If you let go, I will fall onto the rocks far below. I will die!”

She began to cry, reeling in the physical pain she experienced with every movement the man’s body made and terrified of the responsibility she now faced.

“I cannot hold you!” She exclaimed. “You are too heavy. I need you to climb up!”

The man stared up at her, seemingly helplessly, and shouted a desperate plea.

“Then tie the rope around your body. I gave you enough length when I first handed it to you—just enough to easily secure me to you. Use your body to bear the weight of mine. Do not let go of the rope. If you do, I will surely die.”

The woman immediately replied,

“If I tie the rope around my body, I could easily be pulled off with you. Besides, I have a million things to do. My dreams await me on the other side. I cannot stand here all day. I cannot hold you forever. You must climb up! You need to think about me and my needs too!”

The man became angry and bellowed,

“You’re the one that agreed to hold the rope! Why are you suddenly upset about it now? This is my life you have in your hands. A life is a bit more important than your to-do list, don’t you think? How could you be so selfish?”

The woman, not wanting to seem heartless and selfish, pulled the few feet of rope that remained on the bridge and carefully wrapped it around her body, tying it tightly to prevent release. The weight of the man’s body instantly cinched the rope to an excruciatingly painful point. It felt as though she was being squeezed in half.

She pleaded with the man, again.

“Please, sir. I need you to climb up! You are killing me!”

The man gave one final response.

“I will not climb. Why should I? As long as you are holding me, I will not hit the rocky bottom below. Besides, it was your choice to hold the rope, and now it is also wrapped around your body. So, you might want to think twice about angering me. If I decide to throw a fit, that would be truly painful and possibly fatal for you. As such, it seems your life is in my hands now too. You have no choice. Only I do, and I refuse to climb.”

The woman, hearing those words, knew what she had to do. Valuing her life, the dreams she so wanted and deserved to achieve, she took a deep breath, untied the rope and simply let go.

The Toughest Part of Tough Love: Where They Have 12 Steps, You Have One

By | Romance and Recovery | No Comments

By Toshia C. Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

In the addiction field, we often speak of tough love. This terminology was born in response to the typically enabling role of family and friends. These enablers usually don’t intend to advance the disease of addiction. However, because they also have emotional investment in the addicted individual and a general lack of knowledge regarding the disease, they easily confuse helping with enabling.

Helping an active addict consists of one step: let go.

That is likely the toughest part of tough love. And, for the record, it is not merely tough on the active addict. Family and friends struggle with the idea that there’s nothing they can do.

For them, the act of doing nothing while someone they love stands seemingly willingly on a railroad track in front of an oncoming freight train is far too painful. The urge to violently shove them out of the way becomes too great. Often they succumb, only to watch in shock and awe as the active addict not only dusts themselves off and jumps right back on the track but also victimizes themselves and complains about the violent way in which they were shoved.

Of course, family and friends are expected to attempt a few interventions. It is the normal course of caring deeply for someone. But, at some point, everyone must realize the only way an active addict might stop standing on a railroad track in front of an oncoming freight train is if there is no one left standing there to shove them off just in the nick of time.

The Pros and Cons of Recovery-Based Romantic Relationships

By | Romance and Recovery | No Comments

By Toshia C. Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

There are several schools of thought on the concept of romance and recovery. This especially applies to romantic relationships in early recovery. Some addiction specialists say overall abstinence must be enforced for anywhere from six months to a year. A few go so far as to say two years of the single life and no sex should apply. The less common—but certainly more popular amongst those in early recovery—idea is that recovery-based romantic relationships promote successful recovery for not merely one individual; but two.

Recovery-based romantic relationships refers to those which begin within recovery between two recovering individuals. Often, two people meet in an addiction treatment center or a recovery meeting. Because they clearly have similar life paths, pasts and not a lot of explaining to do, the relationships begin with a great deal of ease. For objective readers, naïve to the harsh realities of the disease of addiction, this might seem like an offbeat fairytale in the making.

For those of us in recovery, there are varied experiences and resulting differing perspectives. Since many addiction professionals are also in recovery, much of their viewpoint is based on personal experience. But, of course, a great deal more originates in research—typically observational.

The reality of recovery-based romantic relationships is threefold:

  1. Relationships and/or sex can become a substitute addiction – The occurrence of substitute addictions is quite common among recovery individuals and can include anything from nicotine, caffeine and sugar to religion, exercise and sex. Often, individuals in early recovery are looking for a way to fill the void now experienced with the loss of their drug of choice. Relationships and/or sex easily takes the place of substances and quickly takes on the same obsessive/compulsive qualities.In these cases, relationships and/or sex can become extremely dysfunctional, fast. For this reason, it is often advised that individuals in early recovery give themselves six months to a year to “get their mind right” before involving or subjecting someone else to their current state of thinking and living.Incidentally, professionals who agree with this perspective typically jokingly refer to such attempts by recovering individuals to spark up relationships in early recovery asthe 13th Step.
  2. Relationships can act as a distraction which can be both good and bad – When it comes to drug cravings, distraction therapy is often used as a tool to redirect a recovering individual’s thoughts and hopefully prevent relapse. Relationships can certainly serve as distractions. However, though distraction can serve a helpful purpose, it can also impeded greatly needed personal growth and potentially foster codependence.In active addiction, drugs and alcohol often provides distraction or escape from everyday life, painful emotions, uncomfortable thoughts or experiences and personal responsibilities. For this reason, healthy distractions can easily become socially acceptable—but nonetheless detrimental—addictions. The main issue is the simple fact that distractions block personal growth by preventing the recovering individual from learning to sit with the pain, stay with the thoughts, feelings or experience and heal. The lack of the latter typically eventually leads to relapse. As such, relationships that serve as distractions can not only quickly become codependent and therefore dysfunctional, but also pose a threat to successful recovery.
  3. Recovery-based romantic relationships can serve as added accountability and support for recovering individuals – Just as the vast majority of addiction and recovery professionals agree that 12-Step meetings and other recovery meetings, collegiate recovery communities and sober living communities all provide a sense of belonging and added accountability and support for recovering individuals, many agree recovery-based romantic relationships do the same. Of course, the outcome and healthiness of these relationships is up to the recovering individuals. In this way, regardless of the course the relationship takes, the process can provide an accurate measure of personal progress in recovery. In these situations and from this perspective, if accountability is lacking within the relationship, it will surely arise from the surrounding recovery community who will not only hold the individuals accountable for their actions, but the relationship as well. But even the latter can provide great mirroring for helping professionals and recovering individuals to reference in counseling.

If you have any thoughts or experiences to share regarding the pros and cons of recovery-based romantic relationships, feel free to share by posting a comment below. We love to hear from addiction specialists, recovery professionals, counselors and recovering individuals as well.

If you are in need of help with an addiction or are struggling in your recovery, call our hotline: 1-844-6-GETHELP.

Love Thyself: Cupid’s Reminder for Individuals in Recovery

By | Life in Recovery | No Comments

By Toshia C. Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

February is typically seen as the month of love due to—of course—Valentine’s Day. But not everyone highlights or even recognizes the Hallmark holiday. In fact, many people seem to begrudge it. Even lovers often find it counterproductive in that the hype of the day puts pressure and unreasonable expectations on couples. The latter typically leads to a great deal of disappointment for one or both parties.

Consequently, all too often, couples and singles refuse to make much ado of the day. In fact, various Anti-Valentine’s Day events are often held at venues and private residents in opposition of the holiday. This reality seems unfortunate to some who find the day filled with optimism—an opportunity to spread love and light to others, regardless of relationship status.

For these positive thinkers, the month of February and Valentine’s Day, itself, is not merely confined to romantic love. Friends and family members also become recipients of gifts of endearment and celebrations of love. And, these optimists—who typically shower the world with love every day—usually make it a point to remind others that February 14th shouldn’t be the only day such gifts and celebrations are shared.

Well, we in recovery must take that final notion a step further. It is not merely a love for others that should extend far past the month of February and ideally include all the days of the year. Love for the self must also be a daily priority. In fact, self-love is not only necessary for the purposes of practicing love of others; it is vital to successful recovery. And, quite frankly, it is the lack of it that spurred our active addiction.

Becoming an addict is a holistic process. In other words, our entire being—body, mind and spirit—is involved and affected. The chemical dependency resulting from the changing chemistry in our brains brought about by our use of substances, the toxic thinking, victimization and shame that perpetuates the cycle of pain and our overactive egos which take over the spiritual aspect of our being combine to create the Hell in which we soon find ourselves residing. Yet, the element most lacking from the time we began self-destructing to the day we found ourselves spinning out of control is self-love.

Though love of the self hasn’t been studied and therefore proven to cure the disease of addiction, it certainly forces us to take that first step of admitting we have a problem bigger than ourselves. Of course, some might argue that rock bottom does that. And, yes. It does. But a continued lack of self-love—in this author’s opinion—explains why rock bottom is six feet under for far too many.

If you’re struggling—whether in active addiction or recovery—there is help. There are people who know the pain from experience and they truly want to help. Love yourself enough to get help today. Call our hotline: 1-844-6-GETHELP.

Addicted to Addiction

By | Living With Someone Else’s Mental Illness | No Comments

By Toshia C. Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

Addiction, as we know—like any other mental illness—negatively affects the entire family. Adult children of alcoholics and addicts (ACOAs) know all too well the family dynamics of addiction. Most who have been exposed to or struggled with addiction can certainly attest to the psychological roller coaster that ensues the minute chemical dependency occurs. The constant extremes of ups and downs is taxing and beyond trying.

For young children exposed to this chaos, the experience can be absolutely traumatizing. In fact, many COA’s (Children of Addicts) present with symptoms of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). If untreated in childhood, the symptoms of PTSD only worsen and greatly affect the later adult child’s ability to function in a normal world. Basically, growing up in addiction impedes a child’s ability to reach their full potential in childhood and adulthood.

The phrase—in a normal world—brings about an important point. Generally speaking, children are resilient and adaptable. They observe, mimic and conform to the surrounding environment and people in it.

Children of addicts are no exception. They take note of everything happening around them—chaos, constant crisis, irrational, attention-seeking and dramatic behaviors included—and adapt to the extreme ebb and flow. They learn quite quickly how to survive their increasingly unstable and potentially life-threatening environment.

Typically, this process is referred to as mal-adapting. For active addiction, mal-adaption is very desirable and enabling, as it conforms to the chaos and follows the assumption the world revolves around the addicted individual. But, for the child, mal-adapting is a slow death of the child’s true identity.

Spending an entire childhood mal-adapting to and enabling the constant insatiable, self-sabotaged and consequently unmet needs of an addict is akin to forcibly being immediately drafted from the womb to train for battle. Just as with highly trained soldiers, the brain is conditioned to respond to certain situations in specific ways. Moreover, those situations and specific responses become familiar and comfortable. For example, a trained soldier’s brain might crave structure, control, adrenaline and a sense of mission. Conversely, the mal-adapted brain of a child of an addict has—aside from the need for adrenaline—a completely opposite craving.

Because the conditioning, training and disciplines a child in an addicted home receives are typically learned through observation and experience, there is no known frame of reference; no clear sense of who is in charge, structure or boundaries. Their lives—as well as that of the addict’s—are completely out of control.

Consequently, this level of dysfunction becomes familiar and comfortable. Over time, it becomes a necessity. Unfortunately, just as addicts crave their drug of choice, ACOA’s begin to crave addiction—as well as the drama, chaos, constant crisis, adrenaline, cortisol and other chemical surges that accompany it. It sadly becomes comfort food for their wounded souls. Therapy and a recovery program not unlike those designed for addiction are typically their only hope.

Without professional help, children of addicts typically grow up to either become addicts or subconsciously seek relationships with individuals who struggle with active addiction or some other form of untreated mental illness. Therefore, if you are an adult child of an addict or alcoholic, it is important to take an inventory of personal relationships and make note of any unhealthy patterns, with regard to close friends and significant others. If there are noticeable similarities, regarding toxic, abusive or addictive behaviors, it’s time to seek help for yourself; not because you have a problem, but because you have potential, and you’re not living it.

If you are a co-parent with or family member of active addicts with children, first seek the guidance of a counselor to address any negative effects the active addiction of another has had on you. Remember, you are no good to anyone else, if you are not first good to you. Shift your focus from attempting to force the individual in active addiction to get help and concern yourself, first, with your own mental well-being. Then, intervene on a level in which your energy will not be wasted—an area where you can exercise some control and hopefully create a greatly needed change; get professional help for yourself and the children.

Call our hotline: 1-844-6-GETHELP.

A similar version of this article was first published in Metro Leader.