Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Message for Parents and Spouses

Never let anyone break your spirit... ever.

     I'm just going to give you some sound advice. Sure we are all different people but it's really not that complicated. We all have the same problem and trust me, you want to just keep it simple. Ockham's razor, the scientific credo, asserts that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.

     In other words, the simplest explanation is the best, and yet today the scientific, medical, and psychiatric community violate their very own code and try to increasingly complicate the shit out of addiction... so please, let me help you out a bit.

     By the way, when my wife told me to either quit or she's leaving, while I didn't immediately stop, I did have to ask myself if I really wanted to lose everything. The problem is that if we are never given an ultimatum, we will never fear losing anything.

     And if we are finally given an ultimatum and choose to lose everything just so we can live a life of drug use, then we don't deserve you to begin with... so have enough self-respect to let us go. 


     If you have an alcoholic or addicted spouse or child, you should set an ultimatum. Tell us that we must get better (i.e. take steps etc. whether in or out of treatment) and do whatever it takes to stay sober (as well as spiritually / morally in tact) or you can no longer carry on a relationship with us, because you see, if we choose not to get better, what we are saying is that drugs are more important than you, and you cannot honor that, so do not settle for that.

     Addicts and alcoholics who don't get better don't care that much about you. Trust me, it is the truth, despite all the theatrics and the pleas and so forth. Continuing to engage in a relationship with an addict is toxic for both of you, but especially you.

     Many parents and spouses tell me that they have tried ultimatums, but they really haven't. They always cave within days or weeks and continue to shower the addict with food, shelter, love, etc... even money, if you can fathom such a thing. NEVER give an addict money.

    At any rate, it is ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL to follow through on any decision you make. If you give an ultimatum and fail to follow through, it is a passive acceptance of what we are doing. It says to us that we can continue to do what we're doing and you will eventually cave. It also sends the message that it is acceptable to make decisions in life and fail to follow through, and making healthy decisions and following through IS EXACTLY WHAT ADDICTS NEED TO DO BUT NEVER DO!

     Furthermore, caving is also a way of dishonoring and disrespecting yourself, which sends the message that it is acceptable to dishonor and disrespect yourself. So don't go setting any ultimatums unless you are 100% willing to honor your decision and follow it through until the end. It's much better not to set an ultimatum at all than to do so and cave.

     When you set an ultimatum with your addict, you can also tell us why it should be an easy decision to make. If we fail to agree, you should ask us, "So dope and killing yourself is more important to you than our family, our love?"

     Tell us that we are ripping your heart out every moment of every day and that you live your life in agony. Tell us that our actions are eating away at your spirit and darkening your own life experience. Tell us that we are robbing you of your own joy, happiness, and inner peace. Tell us that you are never okay so long as we are not okay. Tell us of the pain we cause you.

     Finally, tell us that we are going to die and that you are terrified, devastated and broken. Addicts are deaf and self-centered, so if you are going to waste your breath at all, speak of the pain you are in, not the pain we are in.


     If you want to attempt to will your addict or alcoholic to get better, then you will need to pray very hard, as it may not work at all. However, I think the best way to go about doing this is to challenge them. Dare them to recover. Say something like, "Prove it to me. I bet you can't recover. I bet you can't get better and stay better for any length of time. Prove me wrong if you think I'm wrong, but I don't think you can do it. It seems like you just don't have it in you."

     Nobody, addict or not, likes to be told they aren't capable of doing something, that they just don't have it in them, that they don't have the guts, the courage, the fortitude, the strength, the brains, the talent. So challenge them. Dare them to prove that they can get better and stay better. Challenge their mettle. Most stubborn types are competitive and will want to accept and win any and all challenges, especially ones that somebody stuffs in their face.

     You have to remember that you are dealing with someone who you love and who is killing themselves and causing indescribable heartache to you and all those who closely surround them. So it is OKAY to challenge them. IT'S NOT MEAN OR CRUEL to imply that they might not have what it takes, that they might just be too much of a wuss.

     One of the gravest mistakes parents make is thinking that the addict already has no self-esteem and feels horrible about themselves and so it would be dead wrong to just insult them and pile on more.

     You have it all wrong.

     The truth is that feelings of self-pity etc. are actually selfish and immature feelings and we MUST learn to toughen up a bit and get over it if we are to grow up and succeed in the adult world. So you're not insulting us, you are trying to get us to dig deep and challenge ourselves.

     No pity pot will recover. It is actually GOOD for us to get over ourselves and our feelings, to understand that every human being on earth has low self-esteem and shame but that there is no excuse for cowering away and using drugs.

     People are way too delicate with addicts. And we will go right along with that victim bullshit because we know it will get you to feel oh so bad for us. Look, everybody suffers. Suffering is NOT an excuse to use. Coddling addicts emotionally is the ABSOLUTE WORST thing anybody can do because in order to grow up, face ourselves, face the world and be successful out there, we actually have to toughen up and grow a thicker skin. All of us must, or else the world will have its way with us.

     Look, these are just life lessons, so don't rob the alcoholic or the addict of an opportunity to face the realities of adulthood. We are children who simply refuse to grow up, so please go right ahead treat us as such.

     Hope that helps.

Posts Geared for Parents, Spouses & Codependents 

God, please allow every addict in the world to become so hopeless that they have no choice left but to reach out to You...


  1. What if they have stopped using drugs and alcohol but still behave like this? My son is sober for 15 months, but I see that he really isn't in recovery. Time for tough love again?

    1. Thank you, I should have been more clear. The ultimatum is not for simply achieving physical sobriety, which is but a paltry effort, but for CHANGING.

  2. In your "about me" it sounds like you advocate AA for drug addicts?

    1. Yes, I 100% advocate addicts taking Steps as they are laid out in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Addiction and alcoholism are synonyms. Same exact thing. All mood altering substances effect the same system, and it is the very same allergy and abnormal reaction that we all suffer from. I've written about this too. "Crossing Lines", I think, was a really old post I wrote about that, but there have been many. I'll try to think of some...

  3. Excellent post and a lot of really good advice!

    1. Thank you, Summer! By the way, I love your blog and the title is awesome. Keep writing ;-)

  4. Charlie:

    Thank you for posting this. Over and over again I witness parents doing all the wrong things with their addicted child. The challenge is to love your child enough to step back and distance yourself from the insanity. No, there are no guarantees, but nothing changes if nothing changes. When my son was at his worst, my brother, who is in recovery, asked me if my son were to die, would I stand by his casket and wish I had made it easier for him. Fearing that our son would die before his next birthday, my husband and I gave him an ultimatum to enter residential treatment or move out of our home. He chose to leave. The hardest thing I have ever done in my life was to watch my son leave our home with no money, job, food or car. A year later he came back to us seeking help. There is no doubt in my mind that had we not done what we did that he would have died or would still be using. Today he is nearly three and a half years sober. When he was newly sober I asked him if he had any wisdom that I could pass along to other parents. He said "tell them to get the addict out of the house." Thank you for telling it like it is. You are saving lives

    1. I don't think there is a one size fits all with the throwing them out of the house. Sometimes it works well as it did for your son but I also know of others who ended up dying. I never tell people that because this worked well for me you should do it as if it doesn't I wouldn't want their child's blood on my hands. I could never live with myself. When I asked my son to leave my house it wasn't because I thought that he would turn around and seek help, of course I had hope it was because I could no longer live with the drama and chaos in my home.

    2. Dear Lisa, Thank you so much for writing so honestly and sharing this. When and if we do recover, the truth seems so clear, and it appears your son certainly gets it. Grateful for your words as well. Far too generous.

  5. Charlie, I have a question about this post. You say it is crucial to not cave on an ultimatum. This is a simple concept if the addict is continuing to use unabated - but what if they have cut back severely on their habit, and say they are trying really hard to stop entirely? If they say it has been harder to quit completely than they expected? Should a partner still follow through if the addict is sober most of the time but still using occasionally?

    1. I hate to say it, but when it comes to recovery, there are no grey areas. There is no such thing as kind of okay or partially recovered. We are either completely okay, or not at all. Whether we use all the time or occasionally, our internal predicament is still the same. That's my experience.

      Abstinence shouldn't be a struggle. If it is, there is something desperately wrong with his or her program, as it has not or is not lifting the mental obsession. Maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't buy what he or she is selling. An addict in occasional relapse is still someone who is insane, and in my view, cannot be trusted.

      When an addict's obsession is lifted, it is accompanied by a complete internal change as well, which includes the very character of an addict and so forth. Therefore, an addict who still uses has not undergone any significant changes and is still very much the same person.

  6. Thank you and bless you. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer all of our questions.

  7. I need some help/advice on addiction.My husband =
    of 15 years has been addicted to Coricidan over the counter meds for about =
    5 years now. He lost his job about 4 years ago and I have been working up to
    o 200 hours in a two week period to try to keep us afloat. We have 4 kids
    ages 25, 17, 14 and 12 whom all know about his addiction. He takes about 8-20
    or so of these pills and he steals them from the store. One store seen a =
    friend of mine and told her that they are trying to catch him cause they've=
    seen him stealing. I work as a EMT in the town I live in so everyone knows=
    everybody. I've tried so hard to get him to get help. He and his mom don't=
    have a great relationship so I'm pretty much alone to help him, myself and=
    my kids. He is everything you've written about. He can lie straight to my =
    face, he steals, he has taken our kids pain meds when they had teeth work d=
    one. I'm finally done trying to help him and done nagging him. He finally g=
    ot a job about=C2=A0 6 weeks ago and has missed 4 1/2 days of work. He slep=
    t all weekend and sleeps when he's not at work. I'm drowning in debt and ti=
    red of working so much. If I kick him out he will have no place to go, not =
    even his mother's. Is it best to give him a last and final get better or el=
    se contract? I'm afraid I will come home one morning to find him dead. He a=
    lso has asked me to get him beer cause it helps him relax and its ok since =
    he's not taking the pills. I disagree 200%, I fill like he's going from to =
    the other. His father was a alcoholic whom has passed away. There is so muc=
    h more but thats the gist of it. I need help! He needs help! Thank you!

  8. Hi Charlie
    I tried this on the weekend, telling my husband how much he is hurting me, his children, our marriage, his business etc.... He came back and said "how come it's ok for everybody else to say how I make them feel, but nobody asks me how I feel?" Didn't think at the time (because I was so annoyed), but he doesn't ask us how we feel either, we all volunteer that information. He admits he's an alcoholic and recently had a five week period of sobriety in some attempt to give up. The last time he made a decent attempt he only lasted five weeks then too.... Is there something about that period of time? I suspect the withdrawals are too much at that time? I've spoken to him very sternly that he needs to swallow his pride and get some help because alcoholism is a disease and is different to being addicted to cigarettes and giving them up (which he did years ago and thinks he can do the same with alcohol). I explained to him that if he had cancer for example, je would wake up one day and say "oh I've had enough of this cancer now, think I'll just give it up"... Diseases don't work like that. But he is so prideful and thinks getting help from someone is some kind of weakness. Who cares if it is? Isn't it worth it for quality of life and relationships? I've been with him 6 years now and on two occasions he has given up for five weeks each time...that's it. I'm really hurt and lonely and sick of feeling second place to beer. I'd love to see who came to his side if he had an alcohol related accident/illness.... Pretty sure it won't be Carlton! Even though he has invests a lot more time into that relationship. How would he feel if I bought another man home and had an affair in front of his face? That's almost what it's like..... I feel like there's too many other things I'd risk losing if I were to walk away.....

  9. I'm so jealous of those whose addict mates love them enough to quit, and stay off, the booze. What did they do right, that I did so wrong?