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Tina B Tessina

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Hello, and welcome to the "Happiness Tips" newsletter. In addition to a helpful tip for increasing your happiness, you can find out where I'll be signing books, and how to contact me, along with "Happiness Tips from Tina" in every month's newsletter. Please remember to add tina.tinatessina.com to your "acceptable" list, especially if you're on AOL.
Newsletter Dated: 5/5/2011 2:53:07 PM

Subject: Happiness Tips from Tina: To Help an Addicted Friend

Dear Friends:

Welcome to our new subscribers, I love hearing from all of you, and I've printed your email responses at the bottom of this newsletter. I welcome all suggestions for topics. To make sure your spam system doesnít reject this newsletter, please add tina@tinatessina.com to your list of acceptable e-mail. I am not able to fill out forms online because youíre screening for spam. To unsubscribe, see below.

Remember if you donít want the newsletter, just click the link at the bottom, and youíll be instantly unsubscribed. If you missed the newsletter last month, the article is on my website at http://www.tinatessina.com/monthly_column.html

Happiness Tip: To Help an Addicted Friend

Iíve been talking with clients a lot recently about what to do if someone you love or care for is self-destructing through addiction, or is making it difficult to be their friend because theyíre out of control. We all have had some dramatic examples on television and in the news recently which illustrate how crazy addiction can look.

Of course, addiction is devastating to a friendship. Frequently, people who are caught in an addiction or compulsion overstress their friends and family, sometimes to a point of dragging them down, too. Most addiction involves spending money: for drugs, alcohol, or uncontrolled overspending (shopping, gambling, speculative investing, etc.) legal fees from DUIs, lost jobs and income, hospital costs, and myriad other gratuitous costs, so an addict may "borrow" or cost you money and not pay it back. It also involves betrayal, because addiction is usually a clandestine thing  the addict knows there's some kind of a problem, even if he or she is not admitting to addiction, and often uses friends to hide the problem. When a friend learns he or she has been used, the most devastating part is the sense of betrayal. Friendships do survive if the addicted person gets treatment and becomes clean and sober, but it's not easy. While a your friend is out of control, they are not available to be a good friend, so you may need to keep your distance.

To help a friend with a substance abuse problem:

1. Get informed about options. Before attempting to help, make sure you know what the options are for your friend. Alanon (http://www.alanon.org/ or 18884Alanon) is an organization for the friends, spouses and family members of alcoholics, and the other twelve step groups have helpful information about various addictions. To educate yourself and get info for your friend, you can go to the www.AA.org website for helpful information and articles on addiction.

2. Find expert help. An addict or alcoholic has impaired impulse control, so just telling him or her to change won't work. Expert help is needed. You need resources so you can offer him a program, rehab, or suggest therapy. You can find options at http://www.soberrecovery.com/ which has a directory where you can seek services in your area. You and your friends may also decide you need to have an Intervention, which means getting together in a formal way to confront the person with the problem, and pressure that person to get help. Interventions are most successful when in Interventionist (a therapist who specialized in them) is consulted beforehand.

3. Gather a support system: Find some friends or family members you can trust to be helpful (or who are in recovery themselves), and talk to them to find out what they know about the situation, and if theyíd be willing to help. If youíre not sure about the extent of the substance abuse problem, they may be able to confirm your fears, or set them at rest. If you find that your fears are confirmed, make it clear to everyone that your friend has a real problem. Make a plan for what each of you are willing to do to help. Someone who is knowledgeable may volunteer to take your friend to a meeting, or support you in confronting your mutual friend.

4. Create a time and place to talk to your friend. Once the first three steps are in place, you need to talk to the friend. If you, a relative, or one of the other friends can get him or her alone, away from work or other friends, do so. This is a very personal issue, and very painful for everyone involved, so itís important that you make this first step private.

5. Describe the problem and offer help. Once you get your friend alone, tell him or her what you know about the situation.
* Give evidence, times and dates of instances where you felt this friend was in danger or endangering others, or perhaps risking a job or other friendships. (if itís drunken, out of control or drugged behavior, a video from your cell phone can be very helpful) This may mortify your friend, but itís important that he or she knows you know.
*Say you care, youíre willing to help if your friend wants help, and what you can do to help.
Donít just refer your friend to the website or phone numbers. Give him or her all the details you can, and be willing to take him or her by the hand to a meeting or session. The alcoholic/addict needs to know you are willing to support getting clean, abstinent, or sober.
*She or he may tell you "I'm fine, I donít need help." or even be angry at you. In that case, donít get angry or annoyed. Instead, say if he or she ever needs help, youíre available. Remember, your friend is probably feeling hopeless and helpless, and perhaps even worthless. He or sheíll need friends for support every step of the way.

6. Take steps to prevent disaster. If your friend is endangering himself or someone else (driving drunk with friends or family in the car, for example) you may need to get tough, take the keys away, call the police. If your friend is violent, get a restraining order and call 911 if he or she violates it. This is very difficult, but it could be the event that gets your friend help. If this person's behavior is making your life miserable, you may have to drop him or her as a friend. If you find you must let go, please tell your friend why youíre backing away. Sometimes the loss of a friendship can be the impetus to go to AA or treatment.

7. Get support for yourself. Thereís only so much you can do for someone who is self-destructive. It can be very upsetting to watch a friend go through this, and to realize youíve been abandoned in favor of the addiction; so be sure you have a support system in place while youíre dealing with it. Youíll need others to comfort you, to help you remain as objective as possible, and to keep you from being dragged into the downward spiral of addiction and compulsion.

None of this is pleasant, or easy, but if you honestly believe your friend is self-destructive and our of control, itís the caring thing to do. Remember that addiction is progressive, and the addicted person is not in charge any more, so he or she can't just stop the troubling behavior.

© Tina B.Tessina, 2011 adapted from: It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction (New Page) ISBN 1564145484 and The REAL 13th Step: Discovering Confidence, Self-Reliance and Independence Beyond the 12-Step Programs (Career Press) ISBN #1564145484

If you want more, here are some related articles you can download from my website at http://tinatessina.com/monthly_column.html


Apology and Forgiveness
Asking for What you Want
Coping with Critics
Creating Family Acceptance
Detox Your Life
Family Violence Q&A
Friends in Need: Interventions for Domestic Violence
Gentle Persistence
Guidelines for Finding and Using Therapy Wisely
How Not to Fight
How to Keep Yourself Out of a Violent Relationship
Into Every Life
Itís a Dirty Job
Learning Forgiveness
Life Lessons
Mirrors and Teachers
The Nail in the Fence: Healing Wounds
No Cooperation? Solve it Yourself!
Setting Boundaries and Saying No
Ten Things People Donít Know About Therapy
Turnaround Time
Turning Poison Into Medicine
What Is A Dysfunctional Relationship?
You Be The Judge
Your Primary Relationship

Appearances Calendar

Follow me www.twitter.com/tinatessina @tinatessina
The Dr. Romance blog: http://drromance.typepad.com/dr_romance_blog/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tinatessina
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/tinatessina
You can find me on the Internet as "Dr. Romance" on Divorce360.com: http://www.divorce360.com/articlesbytinatessina/128.aspx
Iím a Contributing Editor for Redbook

I'll also answer your questions at http://www.tinatessina.com

Upcoming radio shows, TV, and lectures are all posted on my website at http://www.tinatessina.com and at http://www.booktour.com/author/tina_b_tessina


I welcome your feedback and support, please contact me at tina@tinatessina.com.

Wishing you joy,
Tina B. Tessina, PhD
www.tinatessina.com


MAILBOX
RE: 10 things about therapy:

Good one, Tina. I think this is information that needs to be said more often. Too many people are afraid of what they will learn and seem to think it will diminish their worth if they admit
they are not perfect and/or could be part of the problem. Barbara

Hi, Barbara: Thanks for saying this. I consider it high praise from an accomplished writer like you.
My Dear Tina,
I am so happy to receive your periodical mailings. I'm so glad you are still doing what you
do best and are so successful. All the best.
Jim

Thank you, Jim. Iím so happy you like the newsletter












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