Dear Sheila,

I have a father who is an alcoholic as well as an marijuana addict. My dad sometimes acts out, or is hateful and mean to my loved ones and I when he is high. I want to be a good daughter and love him through this issue, yet I am not sure how to connect with him after he does such cruel things.

Do you have any advice on how I can spend time with my dad, yet somehow get him to stop that behavior?

—Addicted to Family in Massachusetts


“Every problem is a gift, without problems we would not grow.” -Tony Robbins

Dear Addicted to Family,

Dealing with a loved one with an addiction can be so tricky. You can help by: support their efforts on kicking these drug and alcohol dependencies. Acknowledge their successes—even if their success seems small. Be prepared with a list of support groups, doctors, and programs for any time your loved one asks for help.

Give the person information they may need to get further professional advice, yet in no way condone the using patterns they are repeating. Sadly, addiction affects so many people.

Since you are not under the influence, you are in a much healthier mental state than your dad is when he acts out. It is the non-addict that must set the tone during this type of relationship. Choose how and when you will spend time with your father. If you know of times when he is more likely to be using, schedule a different day for a visit that will align.

Take a moment to write out a short list of what is and is not acceptable for your dad when he is around you and your family. Title it, “An Agreement to Myself.” If possible, talk with your loved one when he is not in an altered state. Let him know what happened briefly and tell him in advance what the consequences will be.

Say, “If you start cussing, we will have to leave immediately. We will return at another time when you are sober.” Let the person with the addiction know that this will be the exact standard you will hold them to, and be willing to follow through with whatever you say you will do.

If you cannot tell them in person, either write it to them or keep that in your heart and follow through on your new standards.

A person who is under the influence or struggling with addictions is not in their best mindset. If they were not in a drug-induced state, they would never want you or their loved ones to be treated so poorly. They are not well, and setting loving boundaries will help them and let them know you are always in control of how others treat you.

Addictions can be cured and overcome. Love the person and yourself through this with agreements and sometimes the gift of time for your self-care whenever needed.

As always, I wish you,

“Life, Love, Laughter & Light!”


—Sheila Mac

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