DIVORCE AND ADDICTION
Does your ex-spouse have a problem with addiction ? If so, you have double the issues to deal with. It's likely that the addiction problem existed before the divorce, and you tried everything you knew to cope with it. Here's some news for you: there is nothing you can do to stop another person from drinking or using drugs. You may have discovered that by now. If not, give it time to soak in.
At this point, I want to share something with you that could be a tremendous help. It's called THE THREE C'S:
1)You didn't cause it
2)You can't control it
3)You can't cure it
If you can remember that you can gain some much needed peace of mind. Now, this brings us to another issue: what do I tell my children about their mom/dad's addiction ? The most important thing they need to know is this - it has nothing to do with them. Let them know mom/dad has a disease that is causing their behavior. He or she is not acting that way because they are a jerk, or because they don't love their children.
Tell them about the THREE C'S. This is also the core issue of divorce that children need to understand.
When the childen visit mom/dad, there are strategies for keeping safe when they are with him or her when under the influence. Encourage them to call you when the other parent is drinking or drugging so you can make arrangements to bring them home.. Knowing they can call you anytime can give them a feeling of security. Encourage them to avoid arguing, nagging or pleading with mom/dad when they are drinking or drugging. This could make the situation more risky.
If they have no choice but to ride in the car with that parent, emphasize the importance of seat belts. Let them know it's not a good idea to argue between themselves, or do anything that would increase the stress level in the situation. DON'T ROCK THE BOAT are the keywords in this situation.
As for your dealings with the former spouse, don't try to talk rationally when they are under the influence. If you have an issue to discuss with them make notes ahead of time about what you will talk about and communicate in a business-like way. Avoid talking in person with them. Phone or email communication is more objective than face-to-face. There are fewer possibilities of getting hooked into conflict.
One last but very important coping skill for you and your children is Alanon for you, a 12-step support group for people with substance abusers in their lives. Another good option is the How To Cope program that the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence sponsors. They have a program for adults and for children that is very helpful and effective. You and the children will get all the information you need to know about the disease of addiction.
I would suggest family counseling for you and your children in addition to How To Cope. You are dealing with very complex issues. Remember that you are and the kids are also going through a grief process regarding the loss of the other parent. One important thing to keep in mind is this: your grief process started long ago as your spouse's addiction began to be the focus of your family life. Allow yourself the time to feel sad and angry about the situation. Your spouse's addiction is not your fault. He/she made their own choices to drink or use drugs. You can't control that.
What you CAN control is your own emotional responses. Recognize that you are not a victim. You have choices and you can avoid blaming the other parent. Blaming keeps us helpless and stuck. In order to go forward with your life, you need to DETACH from obsessing about that person's problem. The best strategy at this point for you and your children is to make a life that focuses on YOUR needs and goals.You can, through reading about the effects of substance abuse on the family, gain the necessary knowledge that will help you GROW through this experience and come out a healthier, happier person. The following are suggested sites to explore.
www.http://healthyplace.com AND www.http://livestrong.com
link for further information on co-parenting with a substance abusing ex:
POSTED BY MERLENE BISHOP AT 4:15 PM
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 27, 2010