Category Archives: relationships

How do I help someone with addiction?

One of the most frustrating things on earth is watching someone you love throw their life away on an addiction.

It seems like nothing you say or do gets through to them. In fact the more you try to help them, the deeper they seem to sink into their addiction.

Sometimes that’s just annoying. Other times it’s a life and death situation.

If someone is addicted to coffee, you may not approve, but the chance are they’ll be ok. If they’re addicted to smoking, it may well be killing them, but it’s happening slowly and it may or may not affect them. If they’re addicted to alcohol, illegal or legal drugs they could be in more imminent danger. If they’re addicted to starving themselves, you may be watching them die.

Yet, despite this they don’t seem to be able to get their heads around the damage that they are doing to themselves. It’s as though the connections between what they ‘know’ is happening and the consequences to them are entirely gone.

I know this from personal experience.

I was a smoker for 17 years. I started when I was 21 (entirely old enough to know better) and quit 5 years ago. I can remember people saying to me “you know it’s bad for you right?” as though I was a moron or lived under a rock or something. People on the street would come up to me and say things like “It’ll stunt your growth you know”. I think they thought that was funny as I’m 6ft tall and a grown ass woman. My mum (an ex smoker) hated the fact I smoked and would ask me repeatedly to quit.

None of that made any difference.

It wasn’t about education either. As I said, I started smoking when I was 21. I was working as a microbiologist in Liverpool having been to University studying Biochemistry. I knew what smoking did to a body. I knew what it ‘could’ do to me. The thing was, it didn’t really do anything nasty at first. It was just a laugh with mates when we were out drinking. By the time I’d developed a smokers cough, I was already well into the addicted part.

So what made me try to quit? For me it was my best friend. I was complaining to her about people moaning at me about smoking and she said “So, are you just going to smoke until you die?” That was it. No attitude, no lecture, just a question. A question I had to think about. As I thought about it over the next couple of weeks I realised I didn’t want to die a smoker. I could visualise what my old woman self would look like smoking and coughing, wheezing along, maybe with an oxygen tank….and it horrified me. So then I had to think, well if I don’t want to die smoking, I’m going to have to quit at some point. Why not now? I mean it’s not like it’s going to get any easier?

Here’s my advice.

Don’t

  1. Don’t Nag – it’s annoying and it just makes people dig their heals in.
  2. Don’t lecture – it just makes the person being lectured at think up opposite arguments, which then helps to persuade them that what they’re doing is OK
  3. Don’t promise rewards for abstinence – study after study has shown that offering rewards convinces the psyche that it must mean that thing they are being asked to do is difficult.

Do

  1. Model the behaviour you want them to adopt. If you have someone in your life who is drinking too much, don’t drink around them. Don’t make a thing of it, just don’t do it. If you do what you are asking them not to, it just normalizes it for them and they think you’re an idiot.
  2. Spend time with them. Show them they are loved and worth loving. One of the main reasons people self harm (and addiction IS a form of self harm) is because they don’t like themselves very much
  3. Do fun stuff that distracts from their addiction. The more good stuff they have going on in their lives, the less room there is for bad stuff.
  4. Ask questions. Get them to think about what they are doing, in their own time, in their own way
  5. Be prepared for the fact that you may never get through to them. Ultimately you have to accept that it’s their life to live.

One final note – don’t forget to look after yourself. Don’t get obsessed with their addiction. It won’t help you or them. Take care of yourself and model healthy, social behaviour. It’s more powerful than you know.


If you or someone you know has an issue with addiction, get help. You do not have to deal with this on your own. There are plenty of support groups online and in person. There are also thousands of professionals out there who can help you.

Good luck on your journey

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Addicted to Love

addictedto-love

As a segway on my blog, moving from the subject of Love for February and Addiction for March, today’s post is about those who are addicted to love.

I have a friend who is completely addicted to love. She loves the idea of love. She ends up going from one relationship to another with barely a gap between them. If you saw her Facebook feed you could be forgiven for thinking that she is a nightmare of a person to be with, but as her friend, I can tell you she’s actually a really great person. So why can’t she sort out her relationship situation?

Well, to start with, as I already mentioned, she goes from one relationship to another with barely enough chance to get catch her breath, let alone take some time to grieve for the old relationship and find calm and comfort from herself. Why is that important? Because she doesn’t know who she is. She’s never alone enough to get to know herself. I’m pretty sure if I asked her, she would say that she has a strong sense of who she is, but I don’t think she does. She certainly isn’t comfortable on her own. That’s why she goes searching for another relationship the moment the most recent one ends.

Now I don’t want to get too ‘Laws of attraction’ on you, but I do think we get back what we give out. If you’re in a happy mood you attract people who are happy. If you are in a grumpy mood, you attract people who are grumpy. If you are desperate and needy you attract either a) people who are desperate and needy (not that attractive) or b) people who will take advantage of your desperation and neediness. I would argue that neither of these is a great basis for a strong relationship.

This then leads to her being incredibly disappointed in how the relationship goes. She has wonderful expectations on what should happen. She likes a man to be a man’s man, tough and strong and able to look after her. She wants to be wined and dined. She wants them to be honest and emotionally available. She wants them to be amazing. When they turn out to be human, fallible and often a little emotionally closed off she gets upset and ends the relationship. Does she the take time to work out why this keeps happening? No, she dives straight back in again to see if she can get it right with the next one – and quite importantly, she blames them for not living up to her expectations. She constantly bemoans the fact that she can’t find a good man rather than working out why the good one’s aren’t chasing her.

So what should she do? Well to start with, take a break. Decide not to be in a relationship for a while. It would be helpful to her to take some time to let the wounds heal (and believe me, she feels like she is covered in wounds), to grow and to learn to be by herself. Then she needs to learn to love herself. Not just to put on a lot of puff and bluster (which she is already quite good at) but to actually learn to love all of herself. That means accepting the bad parts as well as the good. Once she has done that, maybe she will be able to be as kind to others. She will be able to love someone who is less than perfect, to understand them and help them in the way that she has helped herself. She will also be projecting more confidence and happiness – which I think she would find attractive in others, and they will find attractive in her.


Not everyone finds it easy to get over a relationship or to be on their own. If you or someone you know struggles with this, maybe you could find some help from a therapist. Invest in yourself – it pays dividends.

 

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Love is not enough

How many times have you heard ‘all you need is love’? or ‘Love conquers everything’?

It’s a cute idea, but unfortunately it’s nonsense.

In certain cultures people can get married without even having spent time together before the wedding day, yet they still go on to have beautiful, strong and often loving relationships. Others fall deeply in love with an abuser who destroys them.

Love is easy – you fall into it, you fall out of it, it just happens. A good relationship needs you to put in some effort.

In the example I gave above – falling in love with an abuser – there are some really important things missing.

Respect

A good relationship requires respect – from both parties. It doesn’t mean that you always have to agree, but you must respect each others feelings. If you dismiss how someone feels, or tell them they shouldn’t feel that way, it’s not respecting them. If you accept this behaviour from someone else – you’re not respecting yourself.

Trust

Trust can take time to build, especially if you’ve been hurt in the past. It can be destroyed in seconds. It’s one of the most fragile things in any relationship and must be handled with care. Whilst it’s obviously important to honour the trust someone gives you, it’s equally important to give that trust in the first place. Yes, you may have been hurt before, but if the hurt was caused by someone else, it’s deeply unfair to punish your partner for the behaviour of someone else.

Courtesy

Courtesy is the little things – the ‘pleases’ and ‘thankyous’. The ‘bless you’ when you sneeze, the ‘pardon me’ when you burp. It’s the small polite things that demonstrate that you are thinking about the other person all the time.

Caring and Kindness

Caring is kind of like Love light, but it’s just as important. Showing that you care about what sort of day they had. Caring about their sore foot. Caring if they are tired or want to talk. I’m not saying their feelings should always come first, but show them that you care about it. Be kind. It’s simple but if we all treated our partners with kindness we would end abuse immediately.

Reliable

To me one of the biggest things about any relationship I have is reliability. Doing what I said I would, when I said I’d do it. Showing up, every time. I can rely on my partner and they can rely on me.

Responsibility

Responsibility is about owning the¬†obligations in the relationship and not giving excuses. I am responsible for my behaviour – no-one else. If I put myself in situations where I get drunk, take drugs, have other people influence me, that’s still my responsibility.

Honesty

I need to be honest with myself and my partner – all the time. I also expect that from them. This links back to the trust. If I want them to trust me, and I want to be happy trusting them, we need to be honest – even when it’s hard or it hurts.

Communication

Honesty is worthless if there is no communication. If someone doesn’t tell you something that’s bothering them, that’s a form of dishonesty. If you don’t tell me, how can I possibly do something about it. People seem to think that their partner should be able to read their mind. Unless you’re dating Derren Brown, that could be a little unfair.

Commitment

An here’s the big one. If I’m in a relationship with you, I’m committing to it. 100% There are no days off, there are no exceptions. All of the above, all of the time. As ¬†I said at the beginning the love part is easy – it just happens. Maybe I’ll fall in love with someone else – I’m not in control of that. But what I am in control of is my thoughts and behaviours, and if I’m committed to the relationship, I will shut down any of the other stuff before it’s a problem.

Love just happens – a good relationship is much more beautiful than that.


Jealousy is a horrible destructive emotion. If you need help getting over negative emotions, you should consider a therapy like hypnotherapy or BWRT.

 

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