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Divorce and Addiction – Catching Thought Flu

Everyone knows that getting caught in a small, stuffy place with someone close to you who is coughing and sneezing can spell trouble – usually within 3 or 4 days.  Catching the contagious form of disordered thought which naturally grows from addiction, however, can take months and even years to fully develop for loved ones and family.   In addition, because it is a somewhat different strain of the same “virus”, it can be difficult to recognize at first. It starts in small ways.  The addict needs “just a little help” to deal with a crisis.  Then, things seem to get better.   But unexpectedly, perhaps for no apparent reason at all, the chemical use spikes and sends them into a tailspin.  It’s unpredictable.  But life has to move on, and needs have to be met, so loved ones and family members act to compensate.  Because they never know when the next crisis will hit, they may take on more and more responsibility – until there is little left of their own lives and personalities.   For loved ones and family members, friendships, hobbies, and other things that make life more enjoyable and meaningful start to drop off.  If the addict has been...
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Divorce and Addiction – 3 Family Myths

Everyone wants to believe that they are in control of their own lives – at least most of the time.  Why is that?  First, the effort to control our personal environment can be seen as a necessary step toward accepting maturity and adult responsibility.  It makes us feel strong and effective.  But second – and probably most important – we as human beings hate uncertainty and like to plan instead toward an intended result.  The unknown is frightening. For families who live with a loved one who is an addict it is no different.  They want to continue feeling that the life of their family is under control.  The need to feel in control can be so strong that they even fail to notice when things spin completely out of control.   Why is that?  It’s because they are still exerting so much energy to get things functioning well – efficiently and orderly – that they start to lose their own sense of perspective on reality.   They start to lose their personal, objective truth. In order to maintain the delusion of control, family members frequently need to tell themselves the following things: I caused this (addiction), or at least contributed to...
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Divorce and Addiction – 3 Tips for Families

What if a couple struggling with addiction issues decides that divorce is necessary for their family? Once the decision to divorce is made, the focus shifts away from working on marital issues – the couple is no longer trying to fix the marriage.  Instead, the focus is on the present and future – on solutions which will help the family be successful in two homes. If a family could not succeed in one home, how can it expect to do better in two homes?  Surprisingly, long term studies of divorcing families have shown that a surprising number of parents who struggled to be fully engaged with the children in an intact family did substantially better in two homes.  In one study, 80% of the children reported after a period of years that they felt the divorce had been a good idea, and that they actually had better relationships with their parents as individuals after the divorce (especially, they reported better relationships with their fathers).  Both parents had more “space” for their separate parenting. But what about special concerns over addiction issues?  Here are 3 tips for addressing some of the most common issues faced by divorcing families struggling with addiction...
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Divorce and Addiction – a strong connection

The statistical connection between addiction and divorce has been estimated to be staggering – some sources have concluded that families struggling with issues of addiction are four times more likely to face divorce.  On a personal level, addicts may leave a marriage because the home is no longer a comfortable place to use alcohol or drugs; a non-using spouse may leave based upon months or years of living with deception and failed promises.   Families which face addiction issues, however, may be unaware of a profound truth which has come to be recognized by professionals in the recovery community:   addiction is a disease of thought which affects the entire family.   Some professionals describe addiction as a powerful aversion to uncomfortable feelings, situations and circumstances (see David Lee on www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB8hFaF7gpk‎).  Addicts develop great skill at avoiding this discomfort by every means possible, including the emotional manipulation of those who love them.  They can keep their loved ones going around in circles to insulate themselves from the consequences of this avoidance.  This is accomplished through tactics of creating fear, fostering sympathy, expressions of anger and blaming others, or even a manipulative use of hope – all to keep things going along the...
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