Is addiction ruling your relationship?
Valentine’s reflections: When and how to intervene to save your sweetheart
Are you questioning a loved one’s behavior, wondering if it’s evolved into addiction? Often those closest to the person succumbing to life-threatening behaviors are the last to recognize it.
Celebrity life-coach, human behavior expert and author Dr. Patrick Wanis offers clear signs that you need to take action and advice on how to proceed. With a Ph.D. in Health Psychology and as creator of Subconscious Rapid Transformation Therapy (SRTT), Dr. Wanis has lent his expertise in human behavior and relationships to major media such as FOX News, MSNBC and E! After Michael Jackson’s death, CNN.com featured Wanis’s analysis.
Addiction signs you should not – or no longer – ignore
Broadly speaking, there are three areas to look at.
1. Addiction interfering with work
“Is your loved one’s job on the line?” Dr. Wanis asks. “Does she not care about her business anymore? Is he or she missing or skipping work more and more often and/or showing up to work late?” Perhaps she has a work friend you can delicately inquire with. Chances are, workmates are noticing something’s going on, too. Just be careful that you choose someone you can trust. And don’t feel like you need to divulge everything or pour out your heart. You’re on a fact-finding mission just now.
2. Withering social connections
Dr. Wanis suggests that you ask yourself: “Are friends avoiding you? Have they stopped calling? Do they turn down your invitations? Have they stopped asking you to do things together?” Realize that healthy people recognize when someone is diminishing their lives: embarrassing them in public, endangering them while driving, making them feel threatened by someone who’s under the influence. “Do you feel like you’re being ex-communicated” because of drugs or alcohol usage? Be objective and honest with yourself.
3. Your relationship is suffering
“Is he spending more time with his habit than you?” Dr. Wanis asks. Excluding you? Hiding things from you? “Do you feel invisible or like you don’t exist? Realize and accept that addiction is now controlling him and thus addiction has become the priority, and you are not the priority anymore, although you should be.”
Addiction confirmation: Now what?
1. Addiction assessment
“How serious is the problem? Are we talking about someone who gets drunk three times a week? Or doesn’t get drunk but gets tipsy every day? You have to evaluate the severity of the issue: To what extent this problem is destroying his life and yours? Remember, addiction refers to the fact that the behavior is now controlling his life,” Dr. Wanis says.
Addiction warning signs you shouldn’t ignore:
- How is your loved one’s usage and behavior affecting you?
- Has your loved one become abusive?
- Do you live together? Or is that why you don’t?
- Are you trying to build together: a home, a business, a family?
- Do you see your finances dwindling?
2. Whose responsibility is it to help? Is it just you? Are there other friends?
Have the conversation with your sweetheart: “I’m concerned with THIS problem.” Be sure you distinguish between the individual and the problem. “You need to create a disassociation,” Dr. Wanis warns, “so the person doesn’t feel like she’s being attacked.” But this person you care for needs to know that the drinking and/or drug use and ensuing behaviors are negatively affecting you.
3. Be prepared for denial
“You should expect the response of denial and counterattack: ‘You have the problem, not me.’ Or ‘You’re exaggerating,’” Dr. Wanis says. Or perhaps your loved one heard you but is unwilling or unable to change.
4. Intervention requires preparation
“Get family, friends and those closest to him to plan a strategy. Agree on the ultimate goal: to get him to a facility that can provide treatment. You, on your own, cannot get him to stop, but you can research a place to send him. Also determine how to pay for it,” Dr. Wanis says.
5. Intervention in action
Have one person lead the conversation, so it doesn’t sound like everyone’s attacking him. “Make statements like ‘Drinking affects all of us, your job, your personal safety and ours. This is where we want you to go; we’ll support you through it,’” Dr. Wanis says. Remember Point #2, above, to separate the behavior from the person: Create a disassociation. One person speaks at a time.
“Be firm, strong, and resolute – he is not going to easily accept that he has a problem or that he needs help. Remember that the goal is to get your loved one to the right clinic or specialist, where he can get the real help he needs to overcome the addiction,” Dr. Wanis advises.
Originally from Australia, celebrity life-coach, author, expert in human behavior and relationships, Patrick Wanis holds a Ph.D. in Health Psychology. Dr. Wanis has appeared on Extra, the Montel Williams Show, Mike and Juliet, Cosmo, Rolling Stone, InTouch Weekly, Women's Health, Dating on Demand, Vh1, Date.com, Matchmaker.com, NY Daily Mail, NY Post, Vogue Australia, FHM, etc. WGN Chicago and syndicated TV show “The Daily Buzz” anointed him “The Woman Expert” and FOX News pronounced him “A voice for women.” More than 5 million people have read Dr. Wanis's books in English and Spanish.
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