Introduction: It Takes A Family

There was a time when drunk driving was fairly acceptable behavior. Bars provided drinks in plastic “to-go” cups to take in the car. Repeat offenders still held valid driver’s licenses, no one ever heard of a “designated driver” and friends regularly let friends drive drunk. Getting caught resulted in little more than a slap on the wrist. Then two mothers, whose children were victims of drunk drivers, began an organization called MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) and convinced the nation that driving while intoxicated was unacceptable. Today, we are much safer on the road because of the passion of these mothers. Now we must go a step further and contend with addiction in our families, so we can live happier, healthier and more secure lives in our homes.

Having worked for years with alcoholics, addicts and their families–and growing up with alcoholism among my own relatives–I have come to a profound realization: Addiction must be denied a place in our families. I think we have all been told that we must wait until alcoholics and addicts want help, but we also know that wanting help can take years or never happen at all. In the meantime, we pay a dear price for addiction’s “right” to exist in our families unchallenged. This book is about the spiritual act of saying “no” to addiction. Letting go is often misunderstood to mean we are to do nothing. When I say no more letting go, I am saying that we must never let go of our right to take positive action against this destructive disease. Instead, we must let go of those things that block our ability to take action. When families make a commitment to work together in love, a power they didn’t know they possessed emerges. They gain tremendous influence, becoming highly effective at motivating alcoholics and addicts to accept help. When taking the right kind of action, the wellbeing of families begins to take precedence over the will of addiction.

A few years ago, I wrote a book titled Love First: A New Approach to Intervention for Alcoholism & Drug Addiction. I wanted to give families, who were ready to take action, access to a detailed roadmap showing them how to intervene. Since then, I’ve talked to people who tell me their families are having difficulty making the decision to do something. They can’t move forward. When a family is hesitant or wavering, it usually means they don’t have enough information. No More Letting Go presents families with what they need to move from uncertainty into a place of clear and definite decision-making. No More Letting Go then provides a number of specific ways to help addicted loved ones, giving families the latitude to select a method that best suits their individual situation.

Once we decide that untreated addiction is as unacceptable as drunk driving, we will begin addressing the problem differently. Imagine a time when it will be unthinkable not to intervene when someone we love becomes addicted to alcohol or other drugs. Ignoring a friend or relative’s addiction will feel as wrong as handing car keys to someone who is stumbling drunk. No longer will we enable the disease; instead we will put a stop to it by initiating recovery. We will be able to depend on most everyone to help us, because almost no one will find it tolerable to support ongoing addiction. Those who become addicted will get help years or even decades sooner, and families will escape endless days of anguish and distress. Small children will know they can depend upon non-addicted family members to protect them from the pain of growing up in alcoholic homes.

Family is our springboard into life. If our family life is robust and healthy, we have a head start on the world. But when addiction distorts and twists our households, we begin at a disadvantage. The longer we are subjected to another person’s addiction, the more we change and the farther we diverge from the world of the well adjusted. We cannot sacrifice the sanctity of our lives to the rapacious nature of addiction. We are given only one life to live, and it is precious. Each of us, including the addicted person, has a responsibility to stop addiction from stealing away with the best of our lives.

Read Chapter One by clicking here.

 No More Letting Go

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