Another person’s anger can be unpleasant, can unsettle us, make us unhappy, guilty or paralyse us. It can also frighten, even terrify us.
The anger that our addicted son or daughter projects at us is immensely powerful, because it wounds us to our core. This is the little boy or girl that we held in our arms and comforted when they woke up from a nightmare, who came to us for hugs when they were hurt. And now they turn on us as though we have been unfair to them, betrayed them and failed them.
Remember this when they hurl abuse at you:
It is the drugs or alcohol talking – not your son or daughter.
Now the practical stuff. These outbursts are wearing you down and you feel like a prisoner in your own home. You need help. The first person to turn to is – yourself.
It’s like this. You don’t have to stand around and take this abuse. When you are under an attack, the sooner you remove yourself from it the better.
Physically removing yourself gives you time to recover and it changes the dynamics of the power game the addict is playing. You take back control.
Options for dealing with anger and violence
1) Leave the building.
Go on a walk, get on the bus or in the car. Go to see a friend, a film, or sit in a cafe. Go anywhere that people are going about their business in a calm, sane manner. Get some space
NB: this is important:
If you feel under any threat or in physical danger at any time – remove yourself immediately. If there are younger children in the house, you need to remove them and yourself for the moment.
You may want to consider calling the police if you are concerned. If your addict has physically hurt you, then it is best you do inform the police. This is for your own protection; and also it is a consequence of his/her action that the addict can experience.
If you get to the point where you feel you can’t think, eat or breathe because you fear so much for your safety, you must LEAVE. The next thing to do is get help. Go to the police, and/or your GP. Stop worrying about what will happen to your addicted son – especially if he is in his 30’s, 40’s or 50’s. I’ve spoken to quite a few friends and acquaintances who find themselves in this position. You must look after yourself first and foremost.
2) Name the demon.
Whether you can do this will depend on the strength of the anger your addict is throwing at you.
If it feels safe to do so, you can say is something along these lines:
“I am not feeling safe right now. Your anger is frightening me. I’m removing myself until you have calmed down.”
This tactic will show your son that he can no longer manipulate you into doing things to keep him happy and allow him to remain stuck in his Addiction.
3) Removing your addict from the family home.
You can only take so much anger or violence towards you from your son or daughter. If you feel you have reached the end of your tether, removing him from your home is an option that it is wise to consider.
Addiction is such a powerful force that we have to take equally powerful action in order to break its stranglehold on the family. Your addict is ruling the roost and it needs to stop – for everyone’s sake, his or hers included.
You will need professional support to take this step – which is best organised through an Intervention at which your addict will be given the option to go to re-hab. Having a Professional at this Intervention keeps everyone safe and increases the chance of success. It’s vital that you have a clear plan and know exactly what to expect and how to hold boundaries.
For more information on Interventions, go to the Addiction Helper site : www.addictionhelper.com/#features-tab3.
Addiction Helper is an organisation that helps families as well as people with addictions. See also their Family Section: http://www.addictionhelper.com/help-for-family/