Words like "addict," "abuser" and "alcoholic" are widely used indiscriminately to describe people who struggle with substance use issues and are laden with negative connotations for much of the culture. As a psychologist who treats substance use disorders I usually discourage my clients and their families from using these words to describe themselves or their loved one.
I know that substance abuse problems vary in terms of severity, fright and heartbreak, and yet I am optimistic! In research and clinical work alike, I've seen the evidence over the past 40 years that families and friends make a difference in helping someone who struggles with drinking, drugs or other compulsive behaviors. Often, it is the critical difference.
Regardless of outcome, stepping in to urge treatment and set boundaries is a way of showing an addict just how far they've fallen at the same time that you're showing them how deeply you love them. Being part of such an event can be a profound, even sacred experience. If it doesn't change the addict, it might change you.
An eating disorder is so terribly miserable, I would not even wish it on my worst enemy's cousin's tarantula. But over half of my life has been defined and ruled by this insidious illness, and as devastating as it has been, it has ultimately changed my life in a way for which I can only be thankful.
The consequences of an affair may have more to do with how each partner responds to it than the affair itself. As many couples have discovered, even in the midst of the most painful circumstances, when there is a shared intention to heal, repair and take responsibility, what may have previously seemed impossible can become a reality.
I believed that unless I had an open-door policy, eventually no one would come knocking and I would be rendered lonely and isolated. I can laugh at that now, but back then, my "savior behavior" that had me believing that I needed to be spontaneously available to provide whatever was asked of me, as an insurance policy against abandonment.