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Addictions and Relationship Boundaries

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Many of us have experienced difficult relationships with someone or with several people who have been addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or some other unhealthy pursuit. How might we deal with these difficult relationships, recognize them early, and prevent such relationships in the future?

My own dear mother was unfortunately alcoholic. One day I realized something vitally important: Just because you love someone, doesn't mean it is healthy to be near them.

It is tremendously useful in life to learn to separate your feelings for someone, with your understanding of what is, or is not, healthy for you to be around. We need both love (or at least like) and a healthy dynamics for a relationship to continue. If both are not present, then the relationship can make you terribly unhappy, or even destroy your health, confidence, and safety.

Ironically, it is also better for them also, to separate if they will not work on controlling their addiction. Maintaining the relationship while they their addiction runs unchecked, encourages their addiction to continue. It is not a significant consequence for them to argue with them about their addiction, for they can remain addicted and behave badly, and still have their relationship with you. You might even be helping to support them, so why should they stop? It is an addiction, so it is powerful.

If you have been in a relationship with someone who is addicted, it would be very helpful to you to decide on your personal boundaries now, so that you can address the matter with a clear head if it comes up again.

Here are some suggestions for behavior that is not acceptable in your relationships:

  • If they borrow money from you to pay for their addiction, or borrow money from you to pay for their needs because they spent their own money on their addiction.
  • If their addiction prevents them from supporting themselves financially.
  • Lying in any way, to cover up the truth of their activities.
  • Being cruel or violent to you in any way, while they are inebriated or sober.
  • Causing you damage to property or loss of reputation.
  • Long absences or causing you great worry.
  • Putting lives at risk by drinking and driving.
If you find yourself in a situation where your partner, family member, or friend is addicted, address it immediately. For best success, don't allow it to continue as it is.

You need to give an ultimatum with consequences. I highly recommend that you tell them that they must participate in an organized help program for their addiction, or you will cease all support, end your relationship with them until they have control over their addiction, and you will not live with them. If you can, organize other loved ones to give the same message at the same time, for it will be more effective.

These are very difficult situations, but remember two things: You will be helping both yourself and them if you take care of your own emotional and safety needs, and, just because you love someone, doesn't mean it is healthy to be with them. While they are addicted, love them from afar.

Author: Andy Smith

The author writes text messages and advises and consults for social networking content for myspace comments, myspace graphics and evalutates creative ideas for myspace layouts.

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Addictive personalities are hell on anyone who has financial, emotional or social interaction with them. Whether you are a parent, friend, student, teacher, boss, co-worker, employee, patient, counselor, manager or partner, having to be involved with an addict can and will drain you mentally, physically and financially. Having grown up amongst alcoholics, I readily adapted to some of the drinking culture popular in the military and construction industries. It was not until I took a good look around to break away from this kind of life style. I started to note that addictive personality did not stop at boozing. Drugs, gambling and compulsive spending were other activities that brought the same misery with it. Without going into too much detail of lost fortunes, broken homes and crippled health, I will go directly to the source of the problem: the addict themselves.

It takes no genius to figure out the role of alcohol and drugs in street crimes. Alcohol or drugs can incapacitate a victim or make a criminal aggressive or reckless enough to swindle, steal from, assault or injure someone. This is not to be confused with the occasional happy hour drinker or recreational user of drugs. The addict is someone who lives for certain drugs or activities like gambling.

Financial abuse, a soft word for incompetence, lying and theft, often gets directed at those that the addict despises. Addicts will destroy themselves and drag down anyone close by. Most of us know a co-worker who constantly mooches money and favors, but turns ugly towards the same people who help them out.

I heard a saying in the army, "You might trust him with your life, but not your money or your wife." I have known fellow soldiers whom I have worked very closely with and relied on heavily, during training and work. But these same guys I could not trust with money or girl friends. It was often the guys who drank heavily. They might have been at the top of their courses and very high performers during the most visible times, but with booze in hand, they were totally just the opposite.

Financial Abuse
Alcoholics and drug addicts can be very extravagant, especially with other people's money. A typical example is the guy who always has to borrow twenty bucks as he is certain to have a "hot date." The situation can never wait. Like a gambler, his big chance to score is now and never later. When you try (and try) to collect, the excuses usually run anywhere from trouble with his or her ex, car payments or so many people owe him money that he can only pay you when those "dead beats" pay up. A favourite excuse is "well, _______owes me twenty, so collect off of him." Another excuse for not paying back is "What? After all of the favors I've done for you? Man, you owe me."

Marriage, family and even a top secret security clearance might mean stability to some people, but it is not the rule. I recall a military guy with both a top secret security clearance and a family, who was in charge of his training course's party fund. At the end of the course, the party fund was empty. Gone.

This goes the same with business. The fraternity brother, army buddy or team mate is always a bad risk if they are a "party-goer." I had an ex-army buddy, who started an entertainment company. If a week passed when he did not brag about his new extravagant lifestyle like $20-a-hole golf games and $200 champagne, I was sure to mark it on my calendar. His company was doing just great, for a while. Then the money ran out, the products stopped selling and trouble started with the securities commission. The stock was worth pennies, partners left and the office closed. No doubt, business is tough. But, I should have clued in to the constant pot smoking, the parties, the over-priced automobile and the domestic problems occurring around that office. One just kind of over-looks some of these behaviors, until it is too late.

Again, the alcoholic or addict must always prove that he is better than someone else. He or she will continually set people up to put them down. Whether it is hanging up the telephone on someone, belittling them in public or physical bullying, it is non-stop.

Here's a typical tactic. The addict will sometimes maneuver a woman to stay over at his place. Whether by keeping her out late, spiking her drink, insisted that they both had too much to drink, etc. Since he did not take advantage of her, he gains trust. Furthermore, he now has her feeling guilty and shamed over sleeping over. He has technically scored points to his own ego by having her over within the first few dates. Now he also has her within his territory, so to speak. He might even brag what a morale giant that he is. This might sound downright weird, but an addict will deliberately put on big displays of their own righteousness. They will rant about other alcoholics and insist that they "don't drink anymore." They constantly remind people of that "fact."

One trait that I have noticed of heavy drinkers, especially in the military, is their habit of working very hard or appearing to, for short periods. They usually will not follow a consistent routine, but tend to slack off and then put on a good show of energy in front of peers or supervisors. I remember a guy in the signals regiment who would drink until sun up. A couple of times during our morning run, he would suddenly sprint to the front of the group and then pass out on the grass. I have to admit, it did provide entertainment for an otherwise boring run.

Alcohol/Drug addiction can also be revealed in over-achievement. The addicted people will work in any trade, from judges to scientists, but a high number tend to be in the fields of acting, construction, military, politics (like that is a surprise) and bureaucracies. Once in a position of power, they can wreck havoc on those around them. (Note: Adolf Hitler had a reputation of being a heavy amphetamine and barbiturate user since the 1920's.)

Alcoholics have severe mood swings. Most violent acts happen between binges when the addicts are experiencing withdrawals. This is to say that a sober alcoholic, even a panhandler can be more violent than when drunk.

Addicts are such good liars because they repress memories of their bad performances and they physically undergo "blackouts." Blackouts can occur while the addict is still totally functional, yet their brains will have no memory of the event. As far as they are concern, they did nothing wrong. This trait can also make the addict, a fall guy for crime. (One such former heavy drinker and petty criminal, David Milgaard, once blacked out in the wrong part of town. Namely, near the area where a nurse had been murdered. Milgaard was found guilty and spent 20 years in jail before new evidence proved otherwise.)

    Simple indicators of addicts are:
  • · Mood swings;
  • · Financial problems;
  • · Heavy tobacco, caffeine and sugar consumption;
  • · Poor eating habits; and
  • · Constant excuses for being late or off work.
  • Remember, addicts, like social drinkers, do not start out as criminals. Sometimes they can recognized their problem and work at changing it. Other times they do whatever to keep a supply of alcohol or drugs always on hand, regardless of the cost to those around them.

Author: Doug Setter

Doug Setter holds a Bachelor's Degree in Food and Nutrition. He has served as a paratrooper and U.N. Peacekeeper and has completed 5 full marathons and climbed Mt. Rainier. He has a welterweight kick-boxing title at age 40. He consults clients in alcohol reduction, stomach-flattening, kick-boxing and nutrition. He is the author of "Stomach Flattening", "Reduce Your Alcohol Craving", and "One Less Victim". Visit his website: www.2ndwindbodyscience.com.

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