Addicted to a cure

Blind Drunk is a new book about an old problem – how do you cope when someone you love has a problem with alcohol? After moving to rural Ireland for a tree change, author Anne Morshead, a relationships counsellor, fell in love with a man who turned out to be dependent on alcohol. What happened next was what happens to zillions of other lovers, parents and friends of people with an addiction: Morshead thought she could make him better.

”I was convinced that by sheer willpower I could cure his problem or at the very least control the drinking by throwing bottles away, by pouring the contents down the sink, by monitoring exactly where he was and what he was doing at all times,” she writes.

Although the book is subtitled ”Light at the end of the tunnel for anyone living with a loved one’s alcohol problem”, you could easily replace ”alcohol” with cannabis, heroin, ice or any other addictive drug, or even gambling, because the issues are similar. The mission to rescue someone you love from their addiction can be all consuming – and lonely, partly because the problem feels too shameful to talk about even to close friends and also because someone else’s substance problem can be hard on your social life, Morshead says. In her case, her partner, Liam, became so drunk that friends stopped inviting them out.

Blind Drunk is a sympathetic and practical guide for anyone stuck in this situation from a woman who learned how to cope. But first Morshead had to accept that the only person who could control his drinking was Liam himself. To do that  she had  to detach herself from his problems and curb the urge to dive in and intervene. It wasn’t easy.

”Not preventing a crisis takes a hell of a lot of courage because it goes so much against the grain not to help in some way,” she says.   Among the tools that helped her cope were using mindfulness to tame the anxiety, learning to walk away from conflict, practising gratitude – reminding herself of what was going right in her life – and reclaiming time for herself.

Morshead’s story is a familiar one to Tony Trimingham, CEO of Family Drug Support, the service that offers 24-hour phone support to anyone whose life is affected by someone else’s problem with alcohol or other drugs.  Last year FDS took 29,000 calls from people who were worried about a relative or friend’s drug use.

Most of these callers were women and 20.3 per cent of all calls were related to alcohol – just a little behind cannabis-related calls (24.1 per cent) and ahead of ice (16.5 per cent) and heroin (7.1 per cent).  ”The urge to fix the other person’s problem is universal – people can basically give up their lives to do everything they can to help,” says Trimingham.

While it’s great if someone finally stops using drugs or gets sober – as Morshead’s Liam finally did – abstinence isn’t the focus of FDS, nor is tough love.   Instead it aims to help families and friends deal with alcohol and drug issues in a way that helps strengthen relationships by teaching conflict resolution and better communication. It also encourages them to lead their own lives.

Blind Drunk, by Anne Morshead, is published by Balboa Press. For information about FDS programs for family and friends of people with drug and alcohol problems, see; for  Source:  Nov 2nd 2013

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