First, let me explain some background. I have been hearing from people messaging me yesterday and today about others that have died via drug overdose. Almost all occurred in the comfort of the family home. It is extremely difficult to convince an addict to go to treatment or to remain in treatment if allowed to live at home. Comfort is the enemy of the addict’s recovery. They have to get uncomfortable to get the help they desperately need.
We can learn a most powerful lesson from the nesting of the eagle. I have heard the story of the way the mother eagle handles the nest and not sure if it true or legend but regardless, it’s a great analogy. So here it is.
In preparation of laying her eggs, the mother eagle builds her nest. First she puts a solid first layer of thorns, sharp sticks and branches. Then she puts in layers of softness with feathers, fur from animals she killed for food, etc. She lays her eggs and when the babies or fledglings (not sure exactly what they are called) hatch, they have a very soft and comfortable nest. As the babies grow and get stronger, she begins to “stir the nest” a little and remove some of the soft comfortable padding. She does this until the nest is very uncomfortable and even unbearable. The mother does this as she instinctively knows that the young eagles will not take the “leap” or “launch” to test their wings and grow strong and learn how to fly/soar. So, the young eagles make their way to the edge of the nest, high on a cliff. They are so uncomfortable in their nest at this point that they are willing to take this “leap” and learn to fly.
Ok, now transferring this story to helping those suffering from the disease of addiction. The addict will not seek help or be willing to get the kind of help needed to enter into full recovery if “the nest” is too comfortable.
Ok, so let’s establish some background information that is accepted by the professional community; 1. Addicts are pain avoidant 2. Addicts hate change 3. To grow, it is important to get out of a “comfort zone” 4. Addicts own “best thinking” got them to where they are not self-sufficient and have not “launched” 5. “Home rehab” never works 6. You can’t help your own because of the FOG (fear, obligation & guilt) which clouds family members’ vision. 7. Addicts need connection within a recovering community along with those who understand and are trained in the field of addiction treatment 8. Lies fuel addiction, therefore there is no such thing as an “honest addict” who is active in their addiction.
I mean, really, think of the choice these addicts are facing. On one hand, he would chose going to rehab, which entails possibly painful withdrawal, loss of certain “freedoms” (such as phone, car, etc.) and having to root up painful faulty core beliefs (which lead to their thoughts, which lead to emotions such as shame, grief, loneliness, which lead to their behavior such as self- medicating) which lead them to the deadly disease of addiction. Or they could remain home in a comfortable setting and not having the discomfort of getting better. Is that really a choice for someone who has a disease of the brain and is not using rational or logical thinking or wisdom?
Or how many times do parents, with good intentions, usurp or ignore advice from trained professionals and instead listen to the addict (whose own best thinking got them to rehab, jail or a failure to launch) whose brain is healing from addiction. These addicts need to be protected from themselves by removing the choice to return home. I have heard countless parents saying they were allowing their son to come home because “it is better than the street and I am afraid they are going to die”. I know that in my recent experience that none of these overdoses happened “on the street” but instead happened in colleges (despite professional advice that their son was not ready to return to school) or the comfort of the family home which gives a false security that the addict is protected.
I have wanted to post this before but didn’t want to hurt any parent who may have lost a loved one while doing the best they could do at the time. This is not in any way blaming as I have been guilty of enabling an addict while sincerely believing that I was “helping” them. The reason I have now decided to post this is that I can keep my silence no longer. My heart is broken and I do not want to again witness families losing their son or daughter. If this helps bring clarity to one person and gets one addict the help they need, then I can handle whatever criticism comes my way. I love each and every family and I do know it is very hard to see clearly especially when asked to do what feels very unnatural at the time. These families are some of the most honorable and wonderful people I know. I am not assigning blame or shame. I am just sharing my knowledge, experience, and observations with hope it may save a life or prevent another family from going through this nightmare.
– Kim Castro Owens, MSCM, MAC, CAADC, CACII, MATC, CCS