We are continuing a series we started last year of Family Interviews. We spoke with the family members of those who struggled to get sober, those who are sober today and those who died as a result of their addiction. Family members are often in pain after years of doing everything in their power to help their loved one. Living with the effects of someone else’s addiction is devastating and for most people it is impossible to bear without outside help. Our hope is that as a family member, you can find experience, strength and hope in these stories.
The following is an interview with Kate N.
What crisis brought you to recovery?
KN: After my brother’s partner tragically died from the disease, the magnitude of his own disease was revealed. I spearheaded the efforts to get him into detox/treatment while he was in the hospital being treated for the physical damage from his drug abuse. When I returned back home after 10 days in Tampa, I immediately went to a meeting. I walked into that first meeting with every intention of meeting other people who would help me help him stay clean and sober. I realized after 10 minutes of that meeting I was signing up for a whole different journey!
Had you ever heard of Al-anon or Nar-anon before this crisis?
KN: I had been travelling with friends a few years prior to my first meeting and as we talked about my brother’s isolation and suspected drug use, they mentioned that Al-anon may be a good place for me.
What have you learned about the importance of family members recovery?
KN: I’ve learned that the person who is suffering needs to want to get better. I was lucky that my brother had reached his bottom and would have done anything asked to stay alive and that he had the professional support and fellowship so that it didn’t need to come from me. One of the most beautiful things I’ve heard in the rooms is LOVE= Letting Others Voluntarily Evolve.
Does the recovery program that you are a member of have online meetings during COVID19?
KN: I started my program back in California and have been very blessed to be able to reconnect with my fellowship there via online meetings.
Did you have any reluctance in accepting your need for your personal recovery? Meaning, did you ever have thoughts of “I don’t have a problem so why do I am I the one who needs help?
KN: I had some resistance initially to accepting that I had to put down the magnifying glass and pick up the mirror. I remember thinking something along the lines of ‘I’m not the one who destroyed my life so why do I need to do all this work?’ Those types of thoughts quickly vanished when I started to explore my own issues with control, enabling, and people-pleasing.
What would you tell family members who are considering their own recovery?
KN: It is one of the greatest investments you can make in yourself and a gift to yourself and your
family, friends, etc. When you start to learn that you can be happy whether the people in your life are behaving the way you want them to or not, there is such a sense of freedom. There is also so much serenity and peace in the spiritual component of the program- the love of fellows, relationship with a higher power, the power of the pause and the gratitude.
Have you experienced any stigma surrounding addiction and recovery?
KN: I don’t know if I experienced anything personally, but I think we as a society have a long way to go when it comes to stigma on addiction. I personally love the work of Dr. Gabor Mate who says “Don’t ask why the addiction, ask why the pain?” People are really suffering, and it’s saddening to see how we, as a society, treat those that suffer. I find people who are in recovery some of the bravest people I have ever met.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
KN: I love the closing statement in Al-anon and still get a little choked up when I hear it. It states that whatever your problems are, there are those in the rooms who have had them too. Basically, you don’t have to go through it alone, and that comforts me every time.