Having a recovering addicted close family member, friend or loved one requires some adjustments on the non addicted person. The family traditions that probably contributed to the addiction or that may be triggers for relapse may have to change.
If you are not an addict, this is hard especially when these traditions are so part of your life and in some cases our identity.
My Journey: The highway 1 trip
A couple of years ago, we started a tradition of an annual March April wine tasting trip. We all love this trip and look forward to it each year. This is a hard tradition that we would normally not break for anything.
We live in California and would take the one, the most exotic highway in the world. We would then find our way onto highway 1, through a small exotic place with beautiful redwoods and the sea in Jenner. On our way back we come through the beautiful Russian river. As you can imagine, this is the most stress free joyful time of the year. We hit a few wineries, taste the best wine California has to offer and the ones we like we pick a few bottles to bring back home.
When my sibling decided to get clean, I was overjoyed. I worked with the rest of the family to count the cost of recovery and the budget. The one thing I didn’t put in the cost is the required change in life style.
I didn’t put in the equation how to cope with an addiction recovery from my day to day living with the addicted sibling. I knew a few things will change but its not until you start living it that you understand. There is little balance between supporting the recovering person and living your life without isolating the very person you are trying to help.
The commitment test: how to live with an addict
I started searching for all the wines out there that we could have for him. I searched for the best tasting non-alcoholic wine that would be available on our trip. Anything but give up the trip.
The other problem is that most of these wineries only serve wine or water, they do not carry other drinks for non-alcoholics. In spite of my best search for options, I realized that the alternative for the wines and alcohol were not the problem, the problem was that it was too soon after treatment to expose my own sibling to such a triggerful environment. The trip had to go.
My faith was also tagging on my conscious, I was raised catholic, you can be a Christian and enjoy some good wine. But I believe what the bible say in 1 Corinthians 8:9: -13; “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak….therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall”.
This to me means that if my taking this trip with or without my sibling will cause them to fall back to addiction, then I will have to let it go.
It’s a lifelong process, be fair to you when living with a recovering addict
I do plan to go on this trip next year, I expect that as I make changes to support the recovery, I will have to balance by being fair to myself and my family. Being conscious to avoid losing balance and end up being resentful is critical at this point to avoid unnecessary triggers for relapse, in which case the support will be counterproductive.
Loving a recovering addict is sensitive dance knowing that the support is critical for recovery and probably the last live line for recovery.
Please feel free to share your experience or opinion with topic. What had you had to give up to support a person in recovery.