Real Simple magazine featured an article, “The Accidental Addict,” about a young woman who inadvertently became addicted to prescription medications. Aren’t all addicts accidental? Who would intentionally choose the life of destruction called addiction or alcoholism? No addicted child that I know said, “Gee, I want to open a Pandora’s box of destruction and quite possibly put my life on the line.” Instead, I imagine he or she thought, “ I’d like to fit in/ hang loose/ have fun/ not be the oddball/be popular/feel comfortable in my own skin” or something of that nature.
By the same token, enablers come by their craft quite honestly. Love First, A Family’s Guide to Intervention highlights the genesis of two distinct types of enablers. One type is the “innocent enabler” who can’t even imagine that drugs or alcohol underpin a loved one’s inexplicable behavior. The other variety is the desperate enabler who cannot bear the thought of the decimation of substance abuse. My own enabling started innocently and then became desperate as I worked tirelessly to prevent the family boat from capsizing while keeping my child out of harm’s way. That balancing act made me crazy, made me sick and didn’t solve the problem. In fact, it made it worse.
The distance I’ve put between me and my child helps me take a clear look and how we got to where we are. That’s been a very good thing: understanding the accidental origins of addiction and co-dependency helps me find forgiveness for myself and for the beloved addicts in my life.