Addiction and Relationships

by Annell Decker, LPC

I grew up in a household affected by addiction and it had an impact. I did not understand the scope of my needs, anger, resentment and desperation for “normal.”

Finding the book, Adult Children of Alcoholics by Janet Woititz was amazing. Somebody finally gets it! Her second book, Struggle for Intimacy, helped me understand how my experiences impacted my intimate relationships. I was looking for someone to make me whole or complete. For a simple, but poignant illustration, check out The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein.

Now, working in a treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction, I see many people who are hurting. How does the healing start? What can I do? It all starts with me and that is based on my beliefs about myself. Do I believe in a Higher Power? Does that entity value me as a person? Is that Being my ultimate authority? Like a game of tether ball, that Higher Power stands strong like the pole, so I (the ball) can only get so far away and am firmly anchored. This is reinforced by attending groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Co-Dependents Anonymous (CODA), and Al-Anon and Alateen [strength and hope for families of problem drinkers] and practicing whatever form of spiritual life works for me.

Some people are very important to me; such as, family, friends and coworkers. There may be others in the world I don’t know, but want to help with donations, prayers, etc. How can I improve my relationships? Communication is the way, of course, both verbal and nonverbal. When I get angry or frustrated, taking 3 deep breaths can help to clear my thoughts, help me calm down and give me time to think. Listening is a skill! Coping with the Stressed-Out People in Your Life by Ronald G. Nathan and Marian R. Stuart offers an easy to remember guide, H.E.L.P.

Time out does not have to be a negative thing. Barbara Coloroso offers a different idea in Kids Are Worth It!: Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline. She talks about a time out place of comfort, for body & mind. I deserve that, too. I have a right to take time to think about my feelings, needs, boundaries and actions about problems. Rarely is there an emergency when I have to give an answer right away.

I don’t need to have magical solutions or answers to every issue. I can work on improving my relationships in small increments, in the process of day-to-day give and take.

About the Author: Annell Decker has a BA in History and a MEd in Counseling from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas. She is a certified Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Annell worked with the Family Crisis Center of the Big Bend, Alpine and the Ray D. Anderson Community Corrections Facility, Brownfield (TX). For the last 7 ½ years, Annell has worked as a Case Manager for La Hacienda Treatment Center in Hunt, (TX). She has volunteered her time with the American Cancer Society as well as Peterson Hospice (Kerrville, TX) with their Bridging the Gap and Pathways programs.

Annell’s other articles:
Grieving Parent Concerns
Grief~~A Natural Response to Loss 
Surviving the Holiday Cheer

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