Ep 53 The Lie That We Can Only Help Ourselves

Living With Your Child's Addiction Podcast
Living With Your Child's Addiction Podcast
Ep 53 The Lie That We Can Only Help Ourselves

How many times have you heard you can only help yourself? It’s critical to help yourself, but it’s not the only thing you can do. You can invite change in your child and create space for them to decide they want to change. We’re constantly told that our kids won’t change unless they want to, but we’re rarely told that we can create favorable conditions for them to want to change. You can help your child.

Episode to listen to next:

Episode 49 Beyond Addiction How Science and Kindness Help People Change author Nicole Kosanke PhD

Episode 41 Interview With My Daughter 

Links that were mentioned in this episode:

Al-Anon’s core purpose, mission, and strategic goals

CRAFT Studies

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This transcript has not been formatted or edited.


I’m Heather. After many wasted years trying outdated approaches to my daughter’s addiction that felt wrong to me, harmed our relationship, and didn’t help my daughter, I finally found an effective evidence-based approach that repaired my relationship with her, helped me create my own peace of mind, and made me an ally in my daughter’s recovery. I teach you a loving and compassionate approach.


to help you encourage change and create connection. Addiction impacts the entire family system. Family recovery is the answer.


Before I get started today, I want to thank you if you left a review for me last week. It is so appreciated. Reviews are so important for podcast growth. And the more my podcast grows, the more parents I can reach. That is really important to me because I don’t want anybody to go through their child’s addiction alone without resources any longer than they have to.


So again, I’m asking, please leave a review and share the podcast with anybody you know that needs it. And I’m just gonna thank you in advance for that. So the name of today’s episode is The Lie That We Can Only Help Ourselves. And I hear that lie told quite often as almost a reassurance.


It is not reassuring to me at all to hear that. I want to hear that I can help my loved one. And I desperately wanted to hear that I could help my daughter when I was Googling for help all of those years before I actually found it. And the truth is, you can invite change in your child. And there’s a specific way to do it. Craft.


which is an acronym that stands for community reinforcement and family training, is designed to help family members of people who use substances feel empowered to engage them in treatment. It’s an evidence-based treatment. That means it has been shown to be effective in peer-reviewed scientific experiments. And the rate of success from various studies


are around 70%, which is huge. That means 70% of family members engage their loved ones in treatment when using craft. When I say family members, I mean parents that are helping a child, children helping a parent, and spouses helping partners engage in treatment. So this doesn’t just work for parents and a child.


And it actually works in a lot of other situations other than addiction, but we’re just focusing on addiction today. So even if your loved one doesn’t engage in treatment, the craft skills can still be used to create an improved relationship within the family, get that connection and reduce conflict. In comparison, 12 step programs have around a 12% success rate.


in engaging their loved one in treatment. But in all fairness, I don’t can compare craft to Al-Anon because Al-Anon’s goal is to make family members feel better and provide community. It is not made to get family members into treatment. Now that might happen as a byproduct though. And that’s where that 12% comes in. And I’m going to put links to these studies that back up the statistics that I just gave you.


and a link to Al-Anon’s core purpose, mission, and strategic goals in the show notes, in case you want to look up any of what I just shared with you. Because that’s pretty amazing numbers to me, 70%. But last week in episode number 52, I shared a little bit of my Al-Anon story and what Al-Anon helped me with. I mean, it helped me immensely.


when I was married to Helena’s father, who was abusing alcohol, it got me focused on myself, which was really important because I was totally focused on him. And it helped me stop taking everything he did so personally. So that helped, but it did not help me engage him in treatment. It didn’t give me specific tools to use with him. It was…


more of a hands-off approach and focus on me. So it was a hands-off approach to his drinking or sobriety and just focus on me. But that was not going to work with my daughter. Like I couldn’t imagine taking a hands-off approach with her, but at the time it was all I needed to do, knew how to do. So I had to do some research to find other ways.


But it makes me really sad because I googled how to help my daughter probably thousands of times. I mean, you know, all of those nights I’m laying in bed, I can’t sleep. All the times that I was supposed to be doing something else and completely distracted by trying to figure out how to help her. And nothing about craft ever came up. Everything that I found was only geared towards helping somebody that wanted to change. And my daughter was not ready to change.


In fact, everything that I was doing just pushed her away and made her hate me and made her want to change even less. It created a lot of resistance. And one thing that I did that was particularly bad was contracts. Somewhere I read that contracts would help hold her accountable. And of course, I was willing to try anything. And Helena had so much resentment about those contracts. They were a point of contention for a really long time.


She kept saying to me, I need your love, not a contract. And just even talking about that makes me feel a little bit nauseous thinking about how out of touch those contracts were, but I was desperate. I was willing to try anything. And they were confusing. They were even hard for me to carry out my end of it, let alone, I can’t even imagine how she could have carried out her end of them. And they just caused so many resentments. It makes me really sad thinking back to that.


But she was right, like that’s what she did need. She did need my love. The problem was I didn’t know how to love her through her addiction in a healthy way until I found the book, Beyond Addiction, How Science and Kindness Help People Change. I found that book at the end of 2018 when Helena was 18 years old and she’d already moved out of the house by then. She’d moved out because she couldn’t stand me. And honestly, I really could hardly stand myself.


I had made some minor progress in our relationship and I was showing up better than I had been before she moved out, but not much better yet. And Helena had been abusing substances for six years when I found that book in 2018. So six years had passed. I knew that we had had a problem for four of those six years.


And it had been four years of hell for everyone involved, including Helena. Her addiction started with depression, an eating disorder, and cutting. I didn’t know about the drug and alcohol abuse initially, but I knew that she was taking diet pills because she got caught stealing them from Walmart and she got arrested.


And Helena was always tall and slender, but she got really skinny. And she went from wearing clothes that fit her figure really nicely to these baggy clothes to try to hide her weight loss. And she was wearing long sleeves in the summer to hide her cutting. But by the end of 2018, we had experienced multiple runaway incidents, several behavior health stays, rehab.


many emergency room visits, four overdoses, court, house arrest, rehab, and more doctor visits than I can even count. I was taking her to appointments usually three times a week, but sometimes five times a week I was taking her to different doctor appointments, just trying to find anybody to help us. And chances are, since you’re listening to this podcast, you know exactly what I’m talking about and how…


overwhelming that process is just that constant chaos and that sense of hopelessness that nothing that you’re trying is working. Before I found the book Beyond Addiction, I believed the only way to help my daughter was to help myself and not to enable her so that she would hit rock bottom and decide she wanted to get sober. That was the only way that had been taught to me.


When I found the book Beyond Addiction, it was the first time that somebody told me there was something else I could do that I could motivate change in my daughter. As I read the first few pages of the book, I saw things like this book is different. You might be afraid nothing will help, but we’re optimistic we can change that. We are optimistic because we know change is possible and you can make a difference.


These were all the things that I wanted to hear for the last four years while my family was going through hell. Yet, even though I was very hopeful when I read the book, I had some big barriers that I was facing when it came to implementing craft. And a lot of those barriers admittedly came from me. And number one, the first barrier I faced was…


The book gives a lot of examples for how to implement craft, but I thought my daughter was much worse off than all the examples they used in the book. So I was really skeptical about it working for me, even though I could see how it would work for others. It did make sense to me. I just wasn’t sure about how it would work, or I was afraid it wouldn’t work in my life.


And that was just my mindset at the time. I felt apathetic about everything because nothing I did so far had worked. It had been years of things not working. So of course I just felt helpless and hopeless. The second barrier was that most of the professionals were giving me the tough love message. And even though I didn’t resonate with it, even though it didn’t feel right with me, everybody was telling me the same thing. So of course I was trying to do those things.


You know, I was getting conditioned by every professional I came in contact with to believe that I could only help myself and let my daughter reach her bottom. So that made me skeptical that trying something new could work too. Like why haven’t I heard more about this from all these professionals that I’ve been to? And the third barrier was I was completely overwhelmed about how to implement craft. It’s a process.


It’s not a set of answers. It’s not like, well, if this happens, then do this. And if this happens, then do that, because we’re dealing with humans and there’s no way to have a set of answers for everything that can happen because each person is so different. So it’s a process for finding what’s going to work best for your family, which is wonderful, but it also makes it difficult because


I was already overwhelmed. I was confused about everything, and I was absolutely terrified of enabling Hylianna. So it was just easier to convince myself that everything that I was doing wrong, I was trying to implement it, reading the book over and over again, but also having a lot of doubt in myself. And the fourth barrier is that Kraft is not very well known.


and there are a ton of practitioners, so it was hard to find help implementing it. I never actively looked for other craft resources other than the book because I thought CMC Foundation for Change was the only place that’s facilitated craft in there in New York City area. And I have to admit that now, with the clarity of hindsight, it doesn’t make sense that I didn’t do more research back then, but…


That just goes to show how hard it is when you’re entrenched in the middle of addiction. It’s like driving in the densest fog you can imagine. I can barely see past the hood of my car, so I guess I was driving as fast as I could for a person entrenched in such a dense fog for so many years. And that’s a lot of barriers to get through when time is of the essence, especially today with illicit fentanyl. It’s just added a whole new level of danger to addiction.


My implementation of Kraft was slow and clunky at best. And I grieve that today. I grieve that it took so long for me to find it. It took so many years. And I can’t help but wonder how different our lives would be if I had found Kraft when Helena was 14 instead of 18. She really responded well to it.


even though she was deeply entrenched in her addiction to heroin and meth. I mean, by this point she was injecting heroin. I bought the book Beyond Addiction in November of 2018 and by August of 2020, Helena went to rehab. Before that, she had tried detox twice, methadone once and suboxone twice. So she became more and more willing to change.


during that period from November 2018 until August of 2020. That’s when I started seeing her really make changes and try to help herself in becoming more open. Her addiction was so bad. Before that, I believe she might not ever get sober. So my main focus was on using craft to connect with her.


and having the best possible relationship that we could have given where she was in her constantly escalating addiction. And that connection gave me a lot of influence with her. We had just the best possible relationship that we could have. And there were, now looking back, I’m like, wow, that really had a huge impact. I read this book and it impacted her, which is huge.


I did an episode number 41 where I did my first interview with Helena. I’ve done two episodes with her where I interviewed her. But in the first one, number 41, I asked her if there was anything I could have done differently that would have helped her get sober sooner. And she said no. At the time, I didn’t question her response. But lately I have. Because we have sometimes we have these.


competing beliefs. It’s this cognitive dissonance, right? Where that old, deeply conditioned part of me that believed that I couldn’t do anything didn’t question when she told me that no, I couldn’t do anything, right? And I had this other part of me that had seen the results and knew that I could help her, that I could.


invite change in her and create space for her to be able to make changes and choose her own recovery. And I have a different perspective now that I don’t have her addiction in my life every day. Of course, I would give anything to be back in that fog and be dealing with her addiction and have her back on this earth, but I don’t have that anymore.


I guess more clarity and more perspective to look at what we went through. When she was sober, some of my fog lifted, but we were still navigating some big hurdles in her recovery and none of it was easy. And if you haven’t experienced sobriety yet, I just have to be honest that it does not stop being hard. So it’s all the more reason to get the tools that you need now.


The first couple of years are tough and sometimes full of relapse. So it’s still difficult and you’ll be using those tools in sobriety that you used in active addiction. So you’ll never stop using those tools and they help you in every area of your life anyway. But I often think about her response to me in episode 49 and I wonder about it. I know that when I changed my approach, it did help her. When I started using craft.


changes started happening, she started slowly opening up, especially where our relationship was concerned. We got closer than we ever were even before. And I have to wonder if her response to me when I was interviewing her for that episode was conditioned, right? Like maybe her response was as conditioned as my belief that there was nothing I could do to help her because we’re constantly told that


they won’t change unless they want to. And they’re constantly told the same thing. They’re always told you will not change unless you want to. But very few people talk about how we can create favorable conditions for them to want to change. We only talk about how change can take place if they want it to. And I believe that I created favorable conditions for her to want to change. What I was doing was helping.


I could see and feel the changes, especially when I look back on it now. It’s kind of mind blowing what was happening during that time, but I was just so entrenched in it. It was hard to see. I wish I could have a conversation with Helena. I would love to hear her perspective about how different it might have been if I had known how to support her sooner, if I could present it to her the way I’m presenting it to you right now. But I’ll never be able to have that conversation with her.


And I try to have a lot of compassion for myself because even though it’s clear to me now that things could have been so much different if I had gotten a hold of the right information sooner, but they weren’t. I mean, there’s nothing I can do about it. The only thing that I can do is share what I know with as many parents as possible and hopefully get them the tools much sooner than I got them. So that’s it for today. I’ll do some more episodes about craft skills soon. I say.


some, not some more, I haven’t done any yet. But I will do some episodes about craft skills soon. Today, I just wanted to share that it’s not true that we can only help ourselves. It’s important to help yourself. And it’s also a part of craft to help yourself. You have to put your own oxygen mask on first. But the truth is that you can help your child too. If you want to sign


Any questions you have about craft or anything else you’re struggling with, there’s a link in the show notes to sign up. I will talk to you soon.


Thank you for listening to this episode. If you want to learn more about my work, go to Heat If you want to help other parents who are struggling with a child’s addiction, you can do it two different ways. First, you can share the podcast with them directly or you can share it on your social media. Second, you can leave a review. Talk to you next week.