I’m writing this article because over the last couple of months I’ve encountered more than one person who has had problems in their consanguinamorous relationship because of their other half having an addiction. Much as it would be nice to think we would never have such a problem, addictions of one sort or another affect many people, and unfortunately consanguinamorous people are just as prone to suffer with these issues as any other group of people. Yet unlike for most people, it is much harder for consanguine couples to get the help they need to overcome these issues because of the current anti-incest laws. This is yet another harm that is done by such legislation, but hopefully this article will go some small way towards self-help.
There are two main kinds of addictions:
SUBSTANCE ADDICTION: This could be illegal drugs, or alcohol, and there is a physical component of the addiction. Some drugs make the body dependant on the next fix and cause the addict to forever search for their next fix in order to experience that high again. There is also a psychological component to it as the person believes that they need the drug as opposed to simply wanting it and craving for it. People under the influence of the drug (or extreme cravings as a result of withdrawal) may do or say things that they never would otherwise, and their behavior can become extremely difficult for loved ones to cope with. This is doubly so if their behavior strays into illegal territories such as stealing to fund their habit.
BEHAVIOR ADDICTION: These are addictions like gambling, pornography, and hoarding. There is no physical addiction to these things, but the addict is still looking for a ‘high’ of a kind. A gambler will want just ‘one more win’ on the slot machines, the porn addict will search for ever more extreme scenes in order to get their ‘fix’, and the hoarder will buy more and more useless trinkets. These behaviors can potentially be just as damaging as substance addiction in terms of the impact on the addicts family. Imagine having no money for bills because it all went in the fruit machine, or a partner being sexually unavailable because they spent all night watching porn, or the house being gradually filled with the latest buys of stuff you already have far too much of.
In BOTH instances, the addiction has likely occurred because the addict feels that there is something missing in his or her life, a deep seated sense of emptiness that needs to somehow be filled and met. Yet without even recognising this on a conscious level, these people the go out and try to somehow ease their suffering. Alcohol may numb it for a while, but the empty feeling comes back as soon as they sober up. Somebody may get a buzz from buying that new dress or pair of trainers, but it wears off as soon as they get home and dump their latest acquisitions on top of the existing ones. In short, people suffering with addictions need help, not just to correct the behavior, but to resolve the inner problem that lead to it in the first place. Not doing this is the reason why an addict may give up one vice only to replace it with another. For instance, giving up alcohol might be a good thing, but it’s not really an improvement if that habit is replaced by gambling.
Now, I’m no mental health expert, and nothing I can say in an online article is going to be any real substitute for professional help for such issues. But I have dug up some useful resources online for people battling these sorts of problems. I’ll list them all at the end of this article, and I would advise those suffering from these problems to seek help for them.
Now, with regards to how to support your family lover through these problems, there are one or two things to consider:
- EXERCISE CAUTION WHEN SEEKING PROFESSIONAL HELP so that your relationship is not discovered. It is ideal if the addict goes to seek help alone, but if he or she wants you to go along to appointments, make sure that you’re clear which role you’re going as… for the benefit of the therapist, are you his relative or his partner? Clearly you cannot be both without giving yourselves away. If you share a surname and look alike it may be safer to go as family members, if you don’t look alike and have different surnames you could go as partners.
- YOU WILL HAVE A HUGE RANGE OF EMOTIONS FACING THESE PROBLEMS. You will want to support the person both as a partner and as family, although the emotions from each role may be a little different. You may suffer infuriation and feelings of being neglected as a partner, and as family you naturally want to help as much as possible. All of this is natural and you need to ensure that you take some time out for yourself to process these feelings.
- YOU MAY SUFFER SETBACKS. It is not uncommon for addicts to relapse at some point, but be patient and stick to whatever program the therapist has given you to work with, it DOESN’T mean you’ve been a failure as a supportive family partner, it means that he or she is still in the process of getting better but isn’t quite there yet.
- IF THE CURRENT THERAPISTS SUGGESTIONS ARE NOT WORKING, then there are choices to be made. You could try a different therapist, or you could ask the same therapist if he or she knows of any alternative strategies are available.
- AVOID BLAMING THE ADDICT for the addiction. He or she probably already feels plenty guilty already, and does not need you heaping on extra guilt… such a thing could be counter-productive and lead to more of the behavior you DON’T want to see.
So here are the links I’ve dug up, the list is by no means exhaustive, there are a lot of these websites out there: