Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Drug Addiction and Grandparents: The Unfortunate Link

Drug addiction requires two things: Drugs and a User. 

To sustain a drug addiction requires three things: Drugs, a User, and an Enabler.  

Anybody can be an enabler. 

Your grandfather could be an enabler. Your grandmother could be an enabler. Your father could be an enabler. Or your mother. Or your mother to her grandchild. And in fact, a grandparent is often the most likely person to become the enabler.  

Grandparents are likely to become enablers because they may be raising the child of their son or daughter (often because their son or daughter is a drug addict). Grandparents may be lonely and seek the companionship of their grandchild. Grandparents have accumulated financial resources that the grandchild learns how to access.

Dr. Allan Schwartz writes (bold added): "It is a well know fact among drug and alcohol counselors that the worst enemy of the abuser is money. The reason for this is that money becomes the means the addict makes purchases of more drugs to feed the addiction. Because the addict is a person who has learned the fine art of manipulation to get what he wants, he knows how to convince loved ones to provide the money he needs to make more drug purchased. If it means telling lies the addict has no compunctions about doing so. Enabling occurs because loved ones generously provide money to the addict in the naive hope that no lies are being told and in the hope that it will help him recover. It is amazing how family and spouses blind themselves to the facts about what is really happening."

I have lived with this situation for many more years than I can count. It gets me dizzy thinking about how long. I could see the beginnings of the codependency long before the drug use began.

Many of us of the "sandwich" generation are experiencing the pain of watching our parents age, lose their health, their memories, and so on. A subgroup of this generation is also experiencing the pain of watching our parents simultaneously go broke, all due to their role as co-dependents to somebody with a drug addiction.

Treatment centers focus on the addict, on the actual drug addiction. They ask family members to participate in counseling, but it's completely voluntary on the part of the family members, the enabler(s). If the addict can go back to the codependent relationship, and continues to engage in the same behavior as before, denial, help with financial resources, lying, etc., the addiction goes on and on, and the grandparents resources will quickly run dry. 

When you are a family member and you see this happening before your very eyes, what can you do?  Anything?   

What is to guide us through these rip currents and perilous channels?

Wrote the wise King Solomon:

A time for tearing down and a time for building up;
A time for weeping and a time for laughing.
A time for wailing and a time for dancing...
A time for seeking and a time for losing.
A time for keeping and a time for discarding...
A time for silence and a time for speaking;
A time for loving and a time for hating;

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