More responses regarding the desperate uncle whose niece and boyfriend are drug addicts (January 13):
Reader #1 – “For years, I took any and all prescription drugs I could get my hands on – mostly obtained not through legal means.
“My parents and family tried for years to get me to quit, but I always had a roof over my head and food in my stomach because they didn’t take the tough love approach.
“They finally understood it was the only way I’d get the help I needed. I hit rock bottom. I was arrested numerous times.
“My parents always visited me in jail, but they never paid for bail as they knew if I got out, I’d go right back to the drugs.
“Finally, in August of 2001, I was arrested for trying to rob a pharmacy. Part of my sentence was to go to rehab, so the five months in jail awaiting trial plus one month of rehab meant I’d now gone six months drug-free.
“I could see clearly again, and not through my usual drug-induced haze.
“I’m one of the lucky ones, Ellie; I’ve now been drug-free since August 2001, have a wonderful wife and child, a great job. But most importantly, I have the love of my family.
“I’m sure using tough love was awful on my family, but in the end, they saved me.
“The niece’s family has to know there’s support for them, but also that it’s not their fault. Too many families blame themselves for their children's addictions, with questions like, “where did we go wrong?”
“Not everyone who takes a drug or a drink is an addict. There are millions of people who everyday take pain medication as prescribed by a doctor, or have a drink at a bar with no ill affects. But for addicts, one is never enough.
“I am living proof that tough love works.”
Reader #2 – “Despite having an enviable life and career, my husband became an alcoholic and then an addict, making life a nightmare for our kids and me.
“He often became violent. To pay for his drugs, he sold whatever he could. I controlled the finances so he couldn’t take much from our account.
“I was advised to go the "tough love" route so, after a few failed attempts at rehab, I threw him out of the house.
“Eventually, I started seeing another man, our divorce was imminent. Also, some of his friends from rehab had died. He realized that he could lose us (and possibly his life).
“He worked very hard and managed to finally succeed at another rehab program. When we reconciled, he reverted to the wonderful man I'd married.
“Unfortunately, unresolved anger and hate he’d felt towards his family (justifiably) manifested itself in the form of a deadly cancer. We had ten wonderful years together before the cancer finally took his life.
“Lies, deceit, and violence are all a part of addiction and destroy not just the addict, but everyone around him/her.
“Throwing my husband out was a very difficult decision but I had myself and three young children to consider. Even now, after years of therapy, the kids are still affected by everything that happened.
“Aside from the great programs that rehab centres run for the co-dependents, there’s Nar-Anon, Al-Anon, and countless other services.
“The most important coping skill I learned was to look after myself. If Desperate Uncle and his niece's parents can somehow get the strength to put this into practice, it could make all the difference in the world.”
Reader #3 – “My daughter became addicted to cocaine when she moved to the "big city" and started a fabulous new job.
“She met her heroin-addict boyfriend in rehab, then became addicted to heroin when they moved in together.
“It was a long, horrible several years of overdoses, trips to emergency rooms, police, jail.
“They lived with me for awhile but I kicked them out when I discovered they were using in my house and the boyfriend was stealing my jewellery.
“She was kicked out of three different rehab facilities. Her boyfriend finally fled the country after robbing a bank.
“She finally joined a 12-step program and has been clean and sober for five years.
“The uncle’s relatives are enabling their daughter by letting her and her boyfriend live with them.
“They need to get clean on their own, separately. They’re "triggers" for each other.”
Tip of the day:
People who recover from addictions through tough-love approaches, express gratitude for the life-saving love.