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Christmas time, in the house of untreated Addiction. Here’s how to cope.

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The 12 Days of Christmas should be a time of happiness and fun, but it can be a hellish time in the house of untreated Addiction.

Lots has gone on this year. Will 2020 ever be forgotten? You don’t need me to tell you this. You KNOW this.

Christmas for many, can be a time of happiness and joy, where families come together to celebrate this time of year. If this resonates, you KNOW how this feels.

But for some, Christmas can be a time of dread and anxiety being around family members who are addicted, with no hope of a reprieve. If this is you, you will KNOW how this feels. Possibly this year, with the pandemic and now with tighter restrictions, things may feel even worse than ever. For all those members in the house of untreated addiction, who might be suffering in silence, IF this is you, I am here to tell you, you are not alone.

I grew up in this type of household. Untreated addiction nearly destroyed my mind and my life. I don’t mean me, I am not an addict, but I am related to many who are. And they want to stay that way, in addiction, and without care or consideration about the consequences of their actions.

I have spent my whole life recovering from growing up in this type of household. When I was younger, I married it and created my own untreated house of addiction. I was lucky though. He left before we had been together any considerable length of time.

So, for the rest of my life, I have spent it recovering from another’s untreated addiction. The journey had been long and arduous, it has cost me financially and emotionally but I have climbed Everest.

Today I am happier and healthier than I have ever been in life. The household I live in today is loving and supportive, and has no addiction. It is my safe haven.

If you have untreated addiction in your household or suspect that a member might be (maybe your partner or your child or your sibling) it may be time to set some boundaries.

The tell-tale signs that you need to set boundaries, maybe include some of the following:

· Constantly bring up with the addict what they have done in the past

· Making him/her feel guilty about what they have done

· Criticising them all the time

· Telling them what to do, and warning them about what will happen if they don’t do what you say

· Covering up for them.

· Walking on egg shells to avoid fighting.

If you identify with the tell-tale signs you may need to set boundaries with the addict. See below how to. These are suggestions, each home and relationships can very, so “one size does not fit all”. But they are a start.

· Establish boundaries – Christmas is nearly upon us, time to set healthy boundaries with the addicted member of the household. Setting boundaries is about taking care of yourself, knowing what you need and want, what you don’t like or don’t need. This will involve you giving clear communication with the addicted person about what is acceptable to you and what is not.

· “No drugs or alcohol around me or in the house”. IF you don’t want illegal substances in your house let them know this. No drinking in front of the kids, let them know this too.

· “If you get into trouble with the law due to your drinking or drug taking, I will not be supporting you financially”. If you have fallen foul of this in the past, communicate to your addicted loved one that you will not be bailing them out in the future if this happens.

· “No more unacceptable language or insults”. Very often when the addict is drinking, for example, there can be unacceptable behaviour. This can involve them insulting and speaking badly to other family members. Set boundaries to eliminate this behaviour. You don’t need to compromise your self-worth. Let them know what is acceptable behaviour and language in front of you and your children. You have the right to respectful behaviour from others, including the addict.

· “I will not be giving you money, to bridge the gap in your finances due to your drinking”. Addiction can turn family members into people pleasers and doormats. To set the boundary that you are no longer financially supporting your loved one (who is addicted) you protect your wellbeing. Put your mental, physical and financial wellbeing first.

· “If you are late for Dinner, due to your drinking or drug taking, you are not welcome”. Very often the addict can cause lots of chaos and broken promises leaving all members in a spin and resentful. Set the boundary around timekeeping over Christmas, this will keep the focus on you and your families wellbeing and get you off what can be the roller coaster ride of the addict.

Remember, setting boundaries won’t cure the addiction or control an addicted person – but they will protect you. Something to think about and follow through on over the festive period.

Best wishes, Maria.

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