fb pixel
Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Asking for Help: Overcoming Obstacles in Addiction Recovery

Concept of asking for help in addiction recovery. Photo of wife and family psychologist comforting and supporting depressed addicted husband at psychotherapy session indoor.

Breaking the Stigma: How to Ask for Help and Prioritize Your Well-being in Addiction Recovery

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II, Waismann Method® and Domus Retreat founder, and David Livingston, LMFT talk about how to effectively ask for help when struggling with addiction or dependency, emphasizing the importance of accepting one’s needs and prioritizing personal well-being. They discuss the obstacles that may prevent people from seeking help, such as feelings of isolation, overwhelming stress, mental health issues, or the reactions of others. The conversation concludes with a focus on maintaining a positive attitude and celebrating successes while acknowledging setbacks and challenges as normal and expected in the recovery journey.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: Welcome back to Addiction, Recovery and Mental Health, a podcast by Waismann Method Opioid Treatment Specialists. I’m your co-host, Dwight Hurst, with David Livingston and Clare Waismann. We’re here to answer your questions about addiction treatment and opioid dependence. Well, welcome back, everyone. This is an exciting topic to cover today. We it was exciting, even just prepping to talk about it just now before I hit record. So I know it’s going to be a good one. Today’s question is if I am a person who is caught up in addiction or dependence or any type of substance abuse problem, how can I effectively and productively ask for help from those around me? What should I ask for? What should I you know, what kinds of things do I do to express my needs? How do I feel about it all? You know, it’s all there’s a lot wrapped up into this. We’ve done an episode or two about if you are a caretaker or support person or in a support system of someone with these problems. Now we’re taking it from the other direction. If you have the problem, how would you approach your support system or others or treatment or any of that? And how do you ask for help? So I’m excited to hear your guys’ reactions to this. Hello, David and Clare, by the way.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: Hello.

David Livingston, LMFT: Hi, how are you?

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: I think I think Dwight, the question itself is already very interesting, you know, because, you know, how does somebody ask for help? And I think the question in a way undermines people’s ability to get help themselves and to recognize they need help and to enter treatment. So, um, I think this is a subject that we can talk about the feeling of shame that is so unnecessary for getting help. There should be a feeling of the ability to feel better and get better and fight for your well-being. So I would think somebody would be proud of themselves. There is also the underlying feeling of somebody needs somebody else to help them get help because they are not able to what is far from reality. I think it underlines a lot of misinformation of who a person is, what their abilities are, what relapse is. All the above, I think, is a great topic that we can empower people to get well, period.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: Shame pops up in, you know, all over the place when it comes to addiction. And it’s very interesting that that’s I think it’s a great place to start with this, which is I’m unlikely to ask for help. The more shame that I have. Right? I already probably feel shame and don’t really want to talk about it. Or maybe I desperately want to talk about it, but I’m too ashamed or embarrassed.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: Shame of what? Being human?

Dwight Hurst, LPC: Oh, being. That’s a yes, exactly.

David Livingston, LMFT: Shame of having dependency needs. So in kind of the school of psychology that I was trained, they say there’s four things present when you’re successful in your therapy, when it’s when things are resolved, you have success at work, success in your relationships, the ability to play, and you can accept your dependency needs. Okay. And the verbiage in the last one is very precise. You can accept your dependency needs. So it’s a need like in order to be healthy, we have to get our dependency needs met well. Just like, you know, we have to eat. We have to take something from the outside in in order to be strong and healthy and go about the rest of our life. We’re built that way from the get-go. And I think we have a culture that is really confused about that fact that we all have dependency needs. And in fact, the better they’re met, the stronger we are, the healthier we are, the more we want to give back, the more our lives open up. I mean, it’s so it’s so big, this topic that and so critical to kind of, you know, and like you’re saying, it’s it’s confusing. I think culturally it’s confused. People aren’t sure if it’s a sign of strength or weakness. And there’s often a lot of wounding around it which like can create shame and confusion and and vulnerability. It’s just, it’s a big topic.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: It’s interesting. I remember hearing it’s a medical doctor in a conference that I was in a long time ago when I was getting started in this field, and it was a great way to shape the way I practice is, is, you know, he’s giving this presentation and and a big part of it was some of the, you know, genetic markers or some of the natural resilience or vulnerability that people have towards addiction and how research shows that, you know, we we do have a scale there. Right. And then he stopped and he really looks at everybody and he says this is often mistaken for a moral weakness or strength, but it isn’t. And then he used some words to describe what he thought of that. And I’ve always retained that and moved forward with this thought of like, you know, as as we’ve often said, you don’t do that with other with many other medical things. There’s a few there’s a few that get picked on. Addiction is one of them. They probably one of the top ones that people look at as a moral failing when it is really like there’s just all these factors and could I be more more vulnerable to addiction than my neighbor? Maybe. But that doesn’t mean anything about me other than a medical fact that I probably should be aware of.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: I think we’re in 2023. We have understood already, you know, and it’s not even talking about drug addiction or alcohol addiction. I’m talking about phone addiction, sex addiction, shopping addiction. I mean, I think we have understood, you know, the nervous system and, you know, the changes that occur in our brains when we repeat, you know, something, especially if it’s a substance and, you know, things just change physically and it is treatable, but sometimes it just happens and it’s not something that, you know, it has anything to do with who we are, what we are capable of. None of the above, you know, I think morality and addiction shouldn’t even be in the same sentence or in the same… You know, it’s different things altogether. And while we as health care professionals did not understand the effects of habits, of dependence, of addiction or whatever behavior we repeat, while we didn’t scientifically understand the cause and the effects of it, I could see those behaviors, those judgmental theories. But now at this point, they’re harmful. They are untrue. They are. They have no basis to it. So we got to, as a society, put this behind us and start treating people with the respect they deserve. That’s it. That’s it.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: I think that acceptance is going to be one of the keywords here as we go through this conversation. We’re already talking about it. The more I can accept that I have this issue and that it doesn’t make me a bad person and that I don’t need to be ashamed, the more I’m likely to reach out to people and to go and also to reject that message when I get it. Because one of the things.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: But why? The acceptance is the issue. Accepting what? That you are human?

David Livingston, LMFT: Know that you have dependency needs.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: That you have needs, you have emotional and physical needs.

David Livingston, LMFT: But that you have dependency needs that in order to be and because it’s a need. So so you know, the disease model of, of addiction is a model because a need never goes away. The need to sleep never disappears. The need to eat never disappears, the need to be connected to other people, to ward off anxiety, depression, to not feel paranoid if you don’t know where you fit in in the world. These are needs that are basic. They begin in the from the get go when we’re born and they exist throughout our lives. And if you’ve had bad experiences with these things, it’s hard to figure that. It’s hard to feel what that’s, right? If you eat, if you get some food poisoning, man, you stay away from that food for a while. And so that’s a lot of what happens with this. And then you find something else maybe not as good for you. Right? But and so you have these you have people who have really sometimes very bad experiences with dependency, and then it moves them towards a self-reliance or reliance on a substance. And then the treatment is, is the is the regaining of that understanding through a healthy and and good experience and with dependency.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: And sometimes the nature of the problem can muddy the waters of our thinking. Not, you know, there’s this societal shame and pressure that we’re talking about, but also there are the symptoms of mental illness, which can sometimes cut into our likelihood of acceptance. And we for those that are also struggling with mental illness or even just the dynamic of addiction, sometimes can either, you know, impair our judgment, obviously. And also. It can throw us into a state of extreme reactions, extreme thinking. It sort of can agitate some of the parts of our brain that have to do with panic and and anxiety. And so in a way, some of the things that we need to do in order to ask for help productively are also in conflict with some of the frequent symptoms of addiction.

David Livingston, LMFT: Like what can you say more of what you mean?

Dwight Hurst, LPC: Well, you know, I find that when there is something that is you described, you know, there is something that we embrace as self-medication. There’s that feeling of need that’s attached to that. There’s that actual there’s dependence, particularly with opiates and alcohol and some of those. But there’s also the behavioral addiction to things, even if they don’t have a strong as strong chemical, there’s the chemicals in our brain. And when we’re doing that, I find that a lot of times if one of the symptoms of addiction is resistance to knowing that I have it right, that’s an obstacle. But I’ve also I’ve worked with a lot of people who, while they are in that mindset and also because of people’s reactions, they can get extreme in their thinking. And I tend to look at it like if I have extreme thinking or black-and-white thinking, it’s all or nothing. I’m either a guilty piece of garbage or I am innocent and everybody else is out to get me. Now, that is not, not everybody has the extremes of those, but it’s easy to bounce back and forth from those positions. In both of those will stop me from seeking help often.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: But aren’t those unhealthy defense mechanisms?

Dwight Hurst, LPC: Oh, absolutely.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: That makes you less reachable.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: Agreed. Very much so. Yeah…

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: But again, then we go back to what we always go back to unresolved, you know, mental health issues, unresolved feelings towards ourselves.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: Well, it’s true. You know, it’s a really good point because I think some of the obstacles to asking for help for addiction may, you know, maybe a lot of them correlate or overlap with the same obstacles to asking for help with our mental health, even if there’s no addiction involved. Right. So so some of the nature of the problem that I’m having makes it hard for me to ask for help about the problem. Does that make more sense? As I as I say that?

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: Yeah! Right, David?

David Livingston, LMFT: For sure! This I think the people who you know, I was talking to someone recently and we were talking about sort of who went to therapy and what type of people got help. And one of the things I said is generally the people who are healthier go to therapy. Okay? Because the people who are too defended, who have had too many experiences and this isn’t a put down on them, it’s usually their experience. What’s happened to them has wounded them in a way that they’ve lost hope, that they can have a good experience. And so so if you lose hope and then someone says, Oh, you should go to therapy, but you’ve had bad experiences when you’ve relied on people, it doesn’t ring true. And so it’s not a put down of that person. It is just an acknowledgment that the people who become most defensive have often had the worst experiences and so the people who’ve had the best experiences are usually more flexible and more willing to risk because they’ve had it. You know, I think everybody’s had good and bad experiences, but if you’ve had enough good experiences, you there’s a hopefulness and a feeling that I can get better and I can get help because I’ve had it before. And so, you know, that’s in play a lot.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: Yeah. I think I think it’s also, you know, comes from self-worth, feeling deserving of, uh, feeling, well, truly feeling well instead of just, you know, the world thinking you’re doing well.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: I think that we can easily get sucked into making things look good instead of making things better or good even.

David Livingston, LMFT: Well, that’s right. A lot of times people’s lives are functioning well, but they don’t feel good. They feel burdened, they feel anxious or other things, and they’re not, you know. So there’s this you know, there’s this break in the in the, you know, the how their life, how their functioning is compared to how they’re feeling. And so you’ll see with addiction that often people are functioning well or their lives are going okay, but they really don’t feel very good. And there are problems that are kind of unresolved. And enough of them that they’ll start to cope to try to feel better. And, you know, and it’s actually easier to just kind of work on them. Usually not. But however, there’s a period in which it can be disruptive, right? To sort of begin to talk and deal with things can initially be disruptive. So, you know, I one of the things I say, I say it to myself and everybody, you know, is, is you you have to have a little courage in this life. You have to be willing to take some chances. Be smart about it. Right. Trust is earned and lost. You have to see who is you know, you have to have a good enough feeling before you invest too much with anybody or in a treatment or in a program. But you have to have some courage, too. You’ve got to take some chances.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: I’m curious what your guys’ thoughts are about this. Many times as people go through this process, they will feel alienated from those around them. Right. And sometimes this has to do with choices or actions that are taken during addiction or maybe just, you know, family history or whatever it is. But the nature of the problem sometimes amplifies or fosters that alienation. So then people are either the two responses I see most often, people are hesitant to ask for help because of the alienation that’s there or on the other side. Sometimes the support system or a family member, a spouse, a parent, child, even. You go to them and say, I need this. And there’s a general reaction of, uh huh. You need this, huh? Well, guess what I’ve needed over the last however many years. And that alienation, I see it as a big obstacle.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: I think there’s a difference between, you know, obviously a child and an adult. A child needs to ask for help because, you know, a child is dependent on someone to ask for help and adults can get help, period. And I think if an adult, let’s say, a wife, a husband, a partner looks at their spouse and say, “Hey! Falling apart here. Going to get help.” Period. I think it makes you not just stronger, but more responsible. It makes you human. It makes you just it. You can’t beat honesty. It doesn’t matter what situation you’re in. You can’t beat honesty. And I think the longer you derail from honesty, the bigger that snowball is going to weigh on you.

David Livingston, LMFT: Right. And the honesty can include like you’re kind of in this scenario, I think you’re talking about, Dwight, where if someone goes to their partner or spouse and says, hey, I’m struggling with substance abuse issue and I need help, and the partner is like, okay, well, you haven’t been here or they’re upset with them. You can talk that through. You can say like you’re saying, Clare. Honesty. “You’re right. I haven’t been and I need to do better.” And, you know, and, and these are separate issues, but they’re connected. And one of the reasons I’m going is because I need to be a better spouse to you or partner or whatever because a lot of getting help is going to bring up competing needs, feelings of somebody being hurt or upset and that, you know, so but you can that can be navigated.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: And I think that can be dealt with once you feel healthier and stronger. So you can even come to, you know, a point where you say, I understand how you feel. I get it. You might be feeling let down, frustrated or whatever it is, but I can’t help you unless I am healthy and I am taking the responsibility of getting healthy. So I’m going for treatment, whatever treatment may be. Is it therapy, is it detox? Is it whatever that may be? I think just taking the responsibility and having, you know, putting the courage in, even if it’s a momentary courage for like five minutes. Is just that nobody can blame you for trying to get better, to be a better person, to get healthier. So you fell? You fell. So what?

David Livingston, LMFT: Yeah, everybody gets lost at times. Everybody.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: How important do you feel like is relationship repair? And that’s a broad term. It doesn’t necessarily mean couples counseling, although that’s one of the options that definitely falls squarely under that umbrella. But how do you see that in people you work with the importance of. Repairing that relationship and building trust and such.

David Livingston, LMFT: Are you asking me?

Dwight Hurst, LPC: No. Either one of you. Yeah.

David Livingston, LMFT: Okay.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: I’m going to let you go on that one, because I’m a little more radical on that one, David. So you.

David Livingston, LMFT: So you’re asking about how you rebuild trust?

Dwight Hurst, LPC: Sure. Yeah…

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: No. How important it is to rebuild that trust. You know, how are you asking Dwight, how far you should go in your efforts to rebuild a relationship that is already exhausted?

Dwight Hurst, LPC: Well, that. I mean that. Yeah, that’s another part of it. That’s really good. I, I guess I was approaching it from a standpoint of just is it? I would say that it’s, it’s very frequent. I mean, one of the closest it’s probably one of the closest times I would come to a general blanket statement would say that most of people are in some need of trying to patch up some relationships. That’s kind of where I’m going. But I like where your head’s at right there, too.

David Livingston, LMFT: Right. It depends on the degree of everything and just kind of talking, you know, generally you, you start wherever you’re at. So wherever the condition of the relationship is, you start there. But and it’s also important to understand that even if someone’s been dealing with substance abuse and someone feels betrayed by it, you know, there’s a tendency to want to throw everything out. I’ve heard people say things like, you know, I’m like, “How how’s your marriage?” “Everything’s really good.” “He’s a great husband”, “a great wife”, this and that. “But I don’t know if I can live with this.” “I don’t know if I can stay with this.” And I’m like, “wait, wait, wait, wait. No, no, no.” “Your life is great. And they just got off of this stuff and they’re coming to you.” These is some chemical things that are dangerous and not good to take that’s getting resolved. And you’ve got a great life. You have to put things into the right size. And so if you’ve built a great life, that has nothing to do with the chemicals, okay, if anything, it may inhibit it. The great life is still the great life. If things are going well, they’re going well. If they’re not going well, they’re not going well. You deal with things as they are, and there’s a danger in kind of confusing this and overlapping things and getting things and making things not the right size for what they actually are.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: Do you think fear is a big factor there?

David Livingston, LMFT: Aalmost always right? I mean, I think I think people feel betrayed if somebody up to something they don’t know and they think they know them and they learn something, that is it. It creates this kind of confusion and feeling that can be very powerful. But so you have to kind of parse that and really make sense of it for what it is and bring it to that. Like I said, to the right size. And often the person who’s dealing with the substance abuse is actually doing it. And I see this a lot because what they don’t want to do is let anybody down. It’s not that they’re doing it to betray them or mess with them. They’re doing it because they so much they feel so much responsibility and love and interest in taking care of people that they don’t want to let them down. And in fact, it’s so important to them. They can’t even tell anyone. And that’s a you know, when that’s the case, you’ve got that’s got to be understood as it is.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: Yeah. There’s a sensitivity that can be there. I think particularly in early periods of nonuse where you stop using because you’re getting rid of essentially a it’s still a self-medication, a coping skill, a, you know, a blanket wrapped around you, so to speak. And then you toss that off and oftentimes, right when you first are going into the initial throes of treatment, I think that’s often the time where you have a bunch of other stuff to clean up at the same time you’re talking about, you know, the relationship stuff. Some people have legal complications or health complications. We’ve done, you know, some episodes talking about that too. And all of that is like, Hey, I’ve got this big project of trying to be sober and do treatment. And there’s a there are several other things that require my attention possibly at the same time when I’m feeling totally overwhelmed. And I think the expression of that and trying to find people who will however they are feeling, will try to understand that and have empathy that can be huge.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: The importance of being honest, you know, not just about, um, your relationship with somebody else, but about your needs where you are. I think timing when you’re trying to get well is so important for everybody involved. As David was saying. You know, I think sometimes when spouses say, you know, “It’s too much”, “I don’t know if I can handle it.” It’s just the timing of everything. People become overwhelmed and they lose the perspective of who they are, what their life has been stepping backwards a little and starting the healing process, you know, slower without so many expectations, you know, so fast, there are no miracles.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: Well and one of the things, particularly in partnership romantic relationships, one of the things that really eats away at it is making decisions based off of old data, meaning we don’t go back and test to see what’s changed. And this is going to undermine when I said most people in relationship repair. But you know, we still have to repair it. But you might not know how strong your spouse or partner is until you give them a chance. Right? Try to get some new data. Come and say, “Hey, I’m trying to get treatment and sober and I need your help.” Give them the chance to say something that you don’t like before you react to what you think they’re going to say that you don’t like because they may surprise you. They may say, Awesome, I’m in. Or some version of that.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: People, people, evolve.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: I often think about something that you’ve said that you said on this program a long time ago. David. You you it was during we were recording during a lot of the COVID stuff, and you expressed the feelings that that that you have or that people have of anxiety. And I’ve repeated this phrase over and over again to clients of mine and to people, which is you’re as sick as you feel, not as sick as you fear. Right. And so kind of that goes along with this thing of ask for help, let people, you know, either surprise you or not surprise you, but you got to give them the chance and say, you know, I’m only as rejected as I actually am. I’m not as rejected as I’m afraid I will be.

David Livingston, LMFT: Right. That’s the courage, you know, And if you’ve had some bad experiences, it takes even a little more courage.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: How do you build up that courage, would you say? What are some ways to do that.

David Livingston, LMFT: When people are struggling with doing something? I, I say this to them. I say, here’s how you do it. Okay? And this works every time. You just speak the words. That’s it. You decide what you want to say, and then you speak the words. Okay. I know how obvious and basic that is, but you just have to make a decision to speak. People don’t speak. Okay? And remember, a thought is not the same as a thought spoken once, A thought spoken. Things change. So you speak.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: It’s sometimes harder to start a conversation than it is when you’re in the midst of it. I find it’s. It’s like if you jump off a diving board, you know, once you jump off, you’re going to hit the water. You’re not going to get lost on the way down to the water or forget how to fall. And when you hit the water, you’re not going to drown. You’re not going to forget how to swim, let me put it that way. And I think it’s the same when you start a conversation or you throw it out there. Once you’ve done it, you’re going to hit the water and you’re going to have to swim. And no matter how good or bad the conversation goes, you’ll get through it and you’ll get out of the pool. Eventually. I realize I made the diving board sound like something to survive, and I guess some people think it’s fun. So there you go. I guess I’m revealing my poor swimming skills.

David Livingston, LMFT: Well, but. But that’s it. So part of what therapy is. So you sit down and you start to and you start to speak and you speak out loud. That which is inside of you. That which is makes you anxious or that which. But the therapy is happening significantly because you’re speaking because the thoughts are change as soon as you put them into words. And there’s a shift in the and what everything means as soon as it’s being spoken especially depending on who’s hearing it. And so that is the vulnerability. And, you know, but one of the things that’s very therapeutic about therapy, longer-term therapy is you learn to speak. You know, you learn to take that chance. You learn to put things into words. You learn to take those risks and it becomes sort of embedded as a way of living.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: And I think also, David, the fear of confronting or dealing with the issue often makes things so much bigger than they are and makes the expectations of things going wrong so much more tragic than it really is.

David Livingston, LMFT: Well, that’s it that you’re afraid someone’s going to be mad at you? Well, you know, people are mad at me every day and I’ve gotten used to it. Now, it’s not that I want people to be mad at me, and hopefully that’s a bit of an overstatement, but it isn’t. It isn’t that you’re not negotiating something or figuring things out, or you’re going to get everything quite right. You’re not. But if you’re willing to hang in there and you’re willing to sort of step forward and step back and so forth, it’s unbelievable how far you can go.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: What about for those who have found that resistance, maybe someone who’s in a toxic system that is not supportive, that comes up not for everyone, but for those who don’t have the benefit of a supportive. Friend or family system around them, or maybe even have a detrimental support system with toxicity. What should they do or where should they turn? Or any thoughts or ideas about ways to work with that?

David Livingston, LMFT: Clare, you’re going to have to answer this one.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: It’s an unfortunate situation that we see more often than not. Um, and unfortunately, you know, this, this is a person that is going to have to find their inner strength in their, you know, want and will to get better. And yes, there is there is help out there. You know, there are groups out there so they can at least be part of some support. But yeah, it’s unfortunate. Some people live, you know, in, uh, very unfortunate realities and they become loners. And I think that’s where we see a lot of the mental health issues of anger growing in this society. People just grow apart.

David Livingston, LMFT: Well, that’s well said. And I mean, the reason I let you start is because it’s a hard thing and you’re 100% right. And it really helps to have I mean, I would say in this situation like that, finding somebody you can talk to who, you know, really has your well-being at heart is critical. And whether it’s a professional or a friend or somebody who you can, you know, to buffer whatever else is not working and and where there isn’t, you’re not getting support. And then and then you have to, you know, come to terms with what your life is and isn’t. And that’s no small thing. But I think it really helps to have some support in some way and somewhere to turn during that. You know, if you’re going to be sort of shifting and looking at those things and you know, it’s a big part of our world. I mean, I mean, there are a lot of divorces. There are a lot of relationships that go bad for one reason or another. And there’s a lot of difficulties that people go through and for and a lot of losses and on and on. And it really, really helps to find and I think a lot of… Because we started this talking about dependency needs so a lot of treatment is helping people build more and more good dependency meaning people they can lean on and people who also can lean on them. And so there’s this sense of a community and of good dependency.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: But maybe instead of saying dependence needs, we talk about emotional needs. You know, health needs just needs. And it’s okay to need it. It’s, I mean, we’re human beings. We need each other. We need support. We can’t believe that we can live alone and deal with the world alone. It doesn’t work. It’s not part of being a human being.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: I had a colleague who would always he’d. He’d talk a lot about a very close friend he had who he would use heroin with back in his days before he became a counselor, not during but before he became a counselor. And when he stopped using illicit drugs and he stopped drinking and he got involved in healthy things and ultimately dedicated the rest of his life. He’s passed on now, unfortunately. But he dedicated himself to helping people through it. But he always talked about one friend they would use together. They were super close, not just because they did drugs together, but they had a real attachment. But every time they spent time together, he’d relapse pretty much. And so he had to not spend time the same way with that person. And that was a huge that was very hard. And I think we have to look at and acknowledge that it does impact our relationships. We tend to assume that once we stop doing an unhealthy thing, everything that happens next is going to be good things. But some of them are rough and there is trade-offs and sacrifices to be made. You know, I’m not one who believes everybody has to cut everyone out of their lives or anything like that. But you do have to be judicious where and with whom you’re spending your time, especially if you’re just starting out to do something like that generally.

David Livingston, LMFT: Right.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: You know, as we grew up, my mom used to say, you can’t be the Red Cross all the time. And, um, I never understood that until I grew up. Um, sometimes you want to help and you want to be there for everybody, but sometimes it is just not healthy for you. And you can’t, you know, help unless you can at least keep yourself in a safe setting. So some relationships are just not healthy. And, um, you know, some people can relate better with some and some people can relate better with others. And I think going back to the question of fighting for a relationship is, um, you got to put things in perspective and obviously you got to think about these things when you’re not emotionally unstable or feeling weak or in crisis. But, um, eventually you got to think is can I be there for them? Should they be there for me? Should I reach out to this person or to that person? Should I keep trying to have this relationship in my life? I mean, all these things are part of, you know, the choices you make every day when you wake up. And those choices will dictate, you know, how your day is going to turn out.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: Yeah. And I think that an important part of this is that as you are going through stuff, there’s a tendency to fall into a trap, kind of a thought trap of saying, you know, if I have and you know, you see these people have some of these bad or undesirable experiences we’re talking about, once again, some people dealing with the health damage from addiction. We had a really wonderful conversation about that a few weeks ago, or a relationship impairment or trying to rebuild a bridge with their kids or even a divorce or something like that. I always like to point out that you have the thought trap is to think I’m failing at becoming more healthy because these things are happening. And it’s like, well, if you’re still, you know, you got to look at these things and say, if you’re dealing with the bad things that are happening and you’re not slipping into self-medication and you’re still, you know, treating yourself kindly and you’re you’re doing everything you can to be sober and healthy. You’re still trying to you’re still sober and healthy while you’re going through some really, really crummy things. Right? Life isn’t about not having crummy things happen or bad things or painful scary things. It’s about thriving, surviving through those things as much as we can. Right?

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: I guess you don’t lose if you learn.

David Livingston, LMFT: I’m not sure I entirely agree with that. But I hear you.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: What you got? We always we always agree so much. Let’s bring some yeah, let’s let’s bring some spice to this. David, what do you think?

David Livingston, LMFT: Well, I mean, I.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/SUDCC II: I guess. I guess we’ll be different. You’re not a loser if you learn. You gain something out of it.

David Livingston, LMFT: No. And I don’t think there’s any word I despise more than the idea of anybody,the word loser. We’re all winners and losers in a million ways. And like you’re saying, and learning how to to handle things better is kind of what we’re all in the same boat trying to do. And it’s critical like you’re saying, like it’s you’re if you’re learning and you’re trying and you’re working towards things that just is that’s so honorable. And it’s just there’s something really decent and honorable, you know? And I think I think what’s really fantastic about any therapeutic community is people who have learned that and sort of admire the effort and the interest and making things better for each other and ourselves. So, you know, that’s really what a therapeutic community is. If you just sum it up and some people do it better than others, but it’s, you know, there’s something very honorable and just trying to do better, trying to make things better.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: And it’s overly simplistic. You’re absolutely right to identify oneself as a winner or loser. It’s because, as you put it, there are elements of both of those things so much in our lives. It’s a good point.

Dwight Hurst, LPC: Thank you so much for being here and listening. We’re going to call it there for today. Lots of important tips, lots of wisdom that I was glad to be a part of in this conversation. If you’d like to get involved in our conversation, please email us info@opiates.com or go to opiates.com. You can go @opiates on Twitter or any social media and tell us questions that you’d like us to address on the show. We’re excited to hear from you. This podcast is a production of Waismann Method Opioid Treatment Specialists and is produced by  Popped Collar Productions. Our music is the song Medical by Clean Minds Sounds. Please consider leaving us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts or your Podcatcher of choice. It helps people to find the show or go out and tell a friend about the show today. For Clare Waismann and David Livingston, I’ve been Dwight Hurst, and glad again to have you with us. We’ll be back in your ears soon. Until then, keep asking questions. If you ask questions, you can find answers. And if you find answers, you can find hope. Thanks again for being here. Bye bye.