July 17th |THE SHATTERING EFFECT OF DRUG AND ALCOHOL ADDICTION ON CHILDREN AND MARRIAGES
Clayton Goldberg, Rick’s son, knows what it’s like to lose everything because of addiction. Today, the sober-free young adult helps others dig themselves out of the addiction hole as a drug and alcohol addiction counselor in an adult treatment center. He joins his dad in this episode to discuss his breakthrough to recovery, how he helps treatment center residents create a plan to stay sober and figure out how to live life when they exit treatment. Clayton and his dad take two calls, one from a parent reeling from a life of drugs and drinking, encouraged by her addict husband; and another the child of alcohol and drug addicted parents. The first caller commits to recovery and makes a tough marital decision which set positive examples for her children. The other caller gets a picture of what addiction looks like from his parents, which forces him to raise himself and his brother and later become a better parent himself for it.
Rick: Good morning everybody and happy Sunday to you. I’m Rick Goldberg and you are on KPRC 950 tuning into our weekly show called Divorce Talk Radio with my name, Rick Goldberg.
We’ve been doing the show for about three months now, almost four months and we cover a variety of topics around divorce. Today, we’re going to talk about the impact of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction on divorce.
And with me this morning, I’m really proud to have my son, Clayton Goldberg in the studio with me. Clay is a drug and alcohol addiction counselor here in town. Clay, welcome to the show this morning.
Clayton: Happy to be here.
Rick: I remember in the days where I used to really have to struggle to get you up out of bed on a Sunday morning. So I’m glad that you’re to a point now where you just arrive and you’re accountable in your own time. So welcome.
Clayton: Boy, those days are over, yeah.
Rick: So what’s – tell our listeners a little bit about you and the kind of work that you do in the field of drug and alcohol addiction.
Clayton: Well, I work in a residential treatment center. It’s adults. And I work with both men and women who are struggling with addiction. Usually when I’m getting with them, they’re at the peak of their addiction. So they are fully dependent, not a lot of things going their way. So, they’re walking in with either homelessness, a lot of mental health issues, and one of those topics being divorce. A lot of them are in legal separations or are bringing in infidelities and things like that that we have to work with the families on. So those are the huge family components where I’m working at too.
So, it’s a 30-day treatment center and I’m getting them prepared so to speak for the real world. So …
Rick: And so, how long are you typically working with them? Well, I guess you said it’s 30 days. So what is week 1 and week 2 look and feel different than say week 3 and week 4?
Clayton: Yeah. So week 1 is usually – they’re coming straight at detox and there’s not a lot of counseling during that detox period because they’re getting the drugs out of their system. They’re not in the right mindset to really get in deep with what’s really going on underneath the surface and to really learn some coping skills they need to kind of get out of that first.
So, when I start meeting with them after about a week, a week and a half of them being out of detox, they’re a little bit more in a better mindset. But they’re still vulnerable. They’re still sensitive. They still don’t quite know themselves. And so, a lot of treatment is about self-discovery and getting their foundation laid out so that by the time that they walk out of treatment, they at least have an idea of where they want to go and how they want to stay sober.
Rick: And how – so how long have you been in this arena doing this type of counseling work.
Clayton: I’ve been in this arena for – since about 2009 I’ll say. I started off in a long-term residential for men. It was about a 90-day minimum treatment. And I loved it and I worked there for about five, six years. Then I started working in an intensive outpatient unit which was session-based treatment. They don’t live there on campus but a lot of it is education in group setting. Did that for about a year and I’ve been working at the place that I’m at right now for the past maybe six or seven months, which is in-patient care.
Rick: Now, would you mind sharing with our listeners like how it is that you got on this track and what led you to this type of career work?
Clayton: Well, I used to be on the other side of all this. So, I had to basically experience and do my research on how it – what it looked like to lose everything. Drugs and alcohol are a big part of my history as far as the negative side goes. And now, having that with me and taking that with me into my sobriety, I realized that, OK, I like helping people. I like to talk to people. I like to get to know people and I like to hopefully steer them into the direction that I didn’t have to go in or that they don’t have to go in so to speak.
Rick: Yeah. There was – I hope you don’t mind me sharing this. But a real impact event in both of our lives was when we had a discussion one day and you were supposed to be making car payments or handling insurance on your car and all of a sudden, you’re at a place where you couldn’t do that anymore and your mother and I were like, “Hey look, you’ve got make these payments or we’re taking the car back.” And then all of a sudden, you sort of got real with us and said, “Well, if you take the car back, you’re going to be taking my home because I’ve been living in the car.”
And it was like, “Whoa!” And then the next thing we knew, we’re having a discussion about, “Well, I guess you’re going to be homeless because we are taking the car or you can go to a treatment center and start getting things right for yourself.” And that was a big event in my life I know.
Clayton: Well, you’re not alone on that. That was big for both of us. I remember that very, very vividly. And I also remember my motive for wanting to get into treatment, which was I needed a place to stay, and that was good enough for me to get help at the moment. But I also remember the complacency that I was in with the misery that it took me. When you say you’re going to take my car, you’re going to take my home. And that’s not cool.
But what scared me the most into recovery was the fact that I was so complacent with the depression. I was so complacent with how drugs and alcohol had affected how I saw myself and how I saw the world in such a dim way. So – and I think that this particular topic of complacency in that misery might come up when we talk later about kind of how this affects divorce and substance use.
Rick: If you’re just tuning in, I’m Rick Goldberg and you’re listening to Divorce Talk Radio. We’re talking about drugs and alcohol and addictions and how they can impact marriages and children. I’ve got Clayton Goldberg, my son, who is a drug and alcohol addiction therapist here in Houston at one of the treatment centers. We’re on KPRC every Sunday morning at 8:00 o’clock. So if in case you just joined us, you’re kind of caught up and you’re tuned in.
We’ve got a caller on line 1 that I’m going to go to. Her name is Sherry. She is calling from Las Vegas. So I’m glad that we have listeners all the way from Las Vegas. Sherry, thanks for calling in this morning.
Sherry: Hey. You’re welcome. I love listening to you, Rick.
Rick: Well, good. What’s going on in Las Vegas?
Sherry: It’s just hot, hot and no humidity. It’s like a blow dryer here.
Rick: It’s like a blow dryer here. Well, I wish I could say the same thing about Houston. It is hot and incredibly humid. I think it’s 99.9% humidity or at least that’s what’s projected for the day.
Rick: Well, thanks for calling our show. You’ve kind of heard what our topic is. Do you have a story to share around drug and alcohol and how it has may be impacted you as a child or as an adult? What’s on your mind this morning?
Sherry: Well actually, I didn’t really get into drugs and alcohol until into adulthood, until in my 20s. So my story would really be that how it affected my relationships. We were married for 22 years and seven and a half of those, we were sober. So it was a pretty turbulent marriage and when it ended, I could see how it had so many effects, the drug and alcohol, how it had so many effects in so many areas of the relationship and how perhaps had we both been sober human beings, the relationship could still be.
Clayton: Hey Sherry, Clayton here. How are you doing?
Sherry: Good. Hi, Clay.
Clayton: Good. You said that at about 22 years of marriage, there were seven of those years that were sober. Did that length of sobriety or that time of sobriety, that happened before like in the beginning of the marriage, towards the middle of the marriage, towards the end? When did that happen?
Sherry: I would say that was in the middle of the marriage. We had that seven – we had seven and a half years of sobriety. It was actually a beautiful marriage at that time. Our kids – it was interesting what happened with the children because the years before that, they were much more on their own. And when we did get sober, the relationship between the kids and us changed dramatically because we started participating in their lives.
Clayton: Yeah. That happens. So …
Rick: How many kids do you have?
Rick: Two. And how old are they?
Sherry: Well, they’re 42 and 40.
Rick: Oh wow! You don’t sound old enough to have kids that age.
Sherry: Oh, thank you.
Rick: Oh, you’re welcome. Sherry, I would love – I want to continue our conversation. So would you mind sticking around? We’re going to take a break and we’ll be right back and we’ll talk with you on the other side. Would you mind that?
Sherry: Sure. No, I’ll wait.
Rick: OK. Great. Well, so when we come back, we’ll continue our discussion with Sherry from Las Vegas. This is Divorce Talk on 950 KPRC.
Rick: Welcome back everybody. This is Rick Goldberg on Divorce Talk Radio here on KPRC 950. Don’t forget that if you’ve got something up and you’d like to call in and get some feedback or advice or just share your story, our number is 713-212-5950.
I’ve got Sherry on the line. You’re still with me, Sherry?
Sherry: I am.
Rick: Sherry was sharing a little bit about her marriage and the ups and downs with drug abuse and drinking. And we were talking about seven years of sobriety that you had in the middle of your marriage, Sherry. What happened that basically led you back down the road to potentially drinking and drugging?
Sherry: Well actually, it was – I’m putting the blame on someone else but it was actually my husband that decided after seven years, he wanted to start drinking again. And he just – he had his own story around it. And he had a program but the program – he stopped really participating in the program and lost touched and got disconnected.
And so then he started drinking again and it was a slow progression. It wasn’t just jumping back in and being a raging alcoholic/drug addict again. As a matter of fact, the drugs I believed that he just – he doesn’t do drugs. He drinks.
Rick: I got you. To this day.
Sherry: To this day, yeah.
Rick: I see. And you’ve been divorced now for how many years from him?
Sherry: I have been divorced for almost 21 years.
Rick: Almost 21 years. Wow! You mentioned your kids earlier. Did your and your husband’s alcohol and drug issues, did that trickle over into your kids at all?
Sherry: Well, I mean they both were in their teenage years going into their 20s. They both did a lot of drugs and alcohol. Perhaps because they saw their parents going through it in a specifically sobriety, they both came out the other end and they are just wonderful, producing, contributing adults now.
Rick: Have they made you a proud grandmother?
Sherry: Yes, they have. Yes, they have. Four times.
Rick: So if you had to do over back during that period of time where your husband wanted to start drinking again, get off his sobriety and I guess peer pressure and pressure from him led you to maybe star partaking again, if you had to do over, what might you have done differently or if you had a chance to advise people going through something similar right now, what might you tell them?
Sherry: Well, what I see Rick is that really, there are no do-overs. We can say a do-over but that time is lost and the most important thing that we have is time. We can’t get time back. So I would say if you’re struggling with drug addiction inside a relationship, you really have to take a look at where the problems lie in the first place.
Sherry: And take responsibility. When you’re using and abusing, the responsibility is not even a word that comes up. You don’t even know what that means. But that’s the bottom line is being responsible.
Clayton: Well, it sounds like you got pretty responsible and not following him down that road that he went down with his alcohol use.
Clayton: And so, do you have any messages or any words of wisdom for anybody that’s married to an alcoholic or an addict that’s actively using and doesn’t know what to do about it? Because we can go – we can follow into their misery whether we’re drinking with them or whether we’re just there with them, helping them along. So do you have any words of wisdom for those people out there that may not know how to handle an alcoholic?
Sherry: Well, I don’t know how wise – it’s either words of wisdom to get into a program and there are plenty. My goodness! You want to surround yourself by individuals who have already been where you’re at and can help guide you because it’s really difficult to put the blinders on and those that life exist without all the turmoil that’s going on. That would be what I would say is to.
Rick: Well, Sherry, I really want to thank you for calling in this morning. Really have appreciated all your wisdom and your do-overs or lack of do-overs. That fact is that I just really appreciate your courage and your vulnerability to share this morning. And so, thanks again. And I hope we hear from you again down the road.
Sherry: Oh thanks, Rick. You bet you will.
Rick: OK. Take care now.
Sherry: OK. Thanks. Bye,
Rick: You’re listening to Rick Goldberg here with Clayton Goldberg and we’re on Divorce Talk Radio here at KPRC 950. If you want to call in the show this morning, definitely give us a shout at 713-212-5950.
So Clay, what do you think of Sherry’s story? Let’s say she comes in to see you in the middle of this or towards the end of that 7-year period where the pressure is mounting. Her husband wants to start using again. What kind of assessment and maybe treatment plan might you have in mind for someone like her?
Clayton: Well, I would definitely ask her to start off by reevaluating what she thinks about divorce or what she thinks about separation because the truth is, is that if we are – if someone is in love with an alcoholic, they’re in love with the behaviors. It’s a complicated place to be in.
That complacency that I talked about earlier, kind of just being OK with the status quo, the squeaky wheel syndrome. “Well, this is just the way that my life is. These are the dynamics now. He is going to continue to drink or he’s going to start drinking again and I’m just going to be that person that tries to take care of him and tries to shade that away from everybody else and that’s my life now.”
It sounds like she was already on – maybe she got on the road of walking away from that complacency a little late so I would probably keep encouraging her to say, “Divorce might not be the worst thing in the world because there’s a lot of good that could come from taking care of yourself.” And sometimes the strategy is divorce. Sometimes the strategy is legal separation. Sometimes the strategy is we need to just take a break for a second so that you can work on you and I can work on me.
Rick: That’s really good feedback. When people come in and they are divorcing and they are in treatment at the same time and they are going through a divorce and they have children, tell me about some of the feelings and maybe feelings of shame and guilt that come out amongst your clients that are really recognized what they’re doing to their family and their children through the divorce process.
Clayton: So obviously, not only does motivation follows someone through treatment but denial does too because they don’t want to believe that they’re the only bad ones that’s going on.
Rick: You’re not talking about the river that runs through Africa, are you? The Nile?
Clayton: No, we’re not talking about that.
Rick: Just making sure.
Clayton: No, far away from that. So for example, I had a client recently who is in a legal separation by the time she got to treatment and she was confused and had high expectations. As long as she got sober, she’d be back in with her husband. And her husband was not up for that. Her husband just wants to get her sober and get safe and she had kids too.
So her motivation was external only, “I’m here because I want to get my kids back. I’m here because I want to stay in my marriage.” And those things were not probably going to happen. There was a lot of evidence showing that she was probably going to be walking out of treatment, still going through a divorce and still having the possibility of not seeing her kids as much as she probably wanted.
So the goal doesn’t become let’s get you ready to get back in your marriage. The goal now becomes let’s get you ready for any outcome that may come your way, which means it might be divorce. And so, acceptance becomes the center of attention of her treatment and getting her to work on herself because she defined herself as the person in the marriage. She defined herself through that marriage.
She wasn’t two turtles going down a river or going down an ocean holding hands together. She was – they were just one big blob and that’s how she saw herself was that, “I can’t – I don’t know me without him. I don’t know me without my kids.” So getting to a place of being able to take responsibility for knowing who she is without that.
Rick: Yeah, I appreciate you sharing that. That’s really good feedback. We are at the halfway point of our show this morning. We’re going to come back. We’re going to talk about some interesting statistics about how people divorcing seem to drink more than people that are married. So stay tuned. I’m Rick Goldberg. We’ll be right back.
Rick: Good morning everybody and welcome back to segment 3 of Divorce Talk Radio with Rick Goldberg. If you are heading for brunch later today perhaps, you will get a Tequila Sunrise, one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite groups. I’m really sorry to see Don or Glenn Frey past later or earlier in the year.
We’re talking about the pressures of marriage when drugs and alcohol are introduced. And in my work, I see a lot of individuals who are in litigation going through a very contentious divorce. I find that right after money issues, sexual issues, infidelity, that drug and alcohol abuse probably puts a wedge between more couples than anything else. Is that true for you too, Clay, in your practice? Do you see that a lot?
Clayton: Well, yeah. Anytime someone is using drugs or alcohol in excessive amount, they’re not thinking straight and so they’re self-destructive. And so they’ll put themselves in either high-risk situations or in a lot of situations where they don’t care what the outcome is going to be. A lot of those lead to infidelities. A lot of those lead to not being able to take care of the family or not being able to take care of themselves. And so, when I can’t provide for myself, I can’t provide for anybody else. So that’s what addiction does is it robs us of our ability to take care of ourselves.
Rick: And the impact that is on children both children when they’re young and as they grow up, it’s incredible.
Clayton: Yeah. It’s hard to figure out where that’s going to go, what kind of kid is going to come out of that, what’s the product going to be from parents of alcoholism or one parent of alcoholism, the other parent not an alcoholic, or no alcoholics? We really don’t know what kind of product that’s going to come out of that.
Rick: Yeah. How hard is it for someone who doesn’t drink, Clay, to be in relationship with someone who is a heavy drinker, maybe almost a functioning alcoholic and on the verge of being someone that abuses alcohol?
Clayton: Well, it’s actually easier than you think. So it’s pretty easy to be with an alcoholic. And usually, if I’m married to an alcoholic, what that’s telling me is that I have something to take care of. And over the years, I get used to that. I get set up with that. That’s what I know. That becomes my norm.
So to get out of that means that I have to change and I don’t want to do that, so I’m going to stay right where I am because even if it’s unhealthy, it’s still serving something inside of me. Maybe it’s that I get to take care of something or that I don’t have to change or I don’t have to have let people know what’s really going on in the marriage right now.
Rick: Now, you’ve been sober for how long now?
Clayton: I’ve been sober for a little less than nine years.
Rick: OK. And congratulations again on that.
Clayton: Thank you.
Rick: How hard is it for you to go out to dinner and be with people that are drinking?
Clayton: Very easy for a certain amount of time.
Rick: OK. Now, was there a certain amount of time that went by before you even wanted to put yourself in that situation?
Clayton: I’d say about a year of sobriety before I put myself in a situation where I was surrounded by alcohol. And I think that was at your second wedding.
Rick: Well, thank you. At least, I can say it was my second of two total weddings.
Clayton: Second of two weddings, yeah. So that was probably – and I had my sponsor there with me. So – and the sponsor is the person who basically guides you through and helps you through sobriety. So, I had a lot of support even though I had all these temptations around. It was fairly easy in that year. I’ve done a lot of work on myself and gotten pretty confident.
Rick: Speaking of that, it’s funny. Right after that wedding, my second wife and I, we came to your one year sobriety birthday. And I remember everybody was coming up to honor you and they would come up and say, “Hi, my name is John. I’m an alcoholic.” And then they would say whatever, “My name is Paul and I’m a drug addict.”
Well, my then wife, she came up to the stage to honor you and she said, “Hi, my name is Loris and I’m a vegetarian.” It was pretty funny.
Clayton: Which is a big problem – no, I’m just kidding. No.
Rick: I think that’s the gateway, vegetarian is, kind of a gateway drug into who know what.
Clayton: OCD, a whole bunch of different behaviors.
Rick: You can call us if you’ve got something to share here on KPRC 950 at 713-212-5950. And in fact, I’ve got a caller on line 3. Her name is August. Hey, August. How are you?
August: Hi. I’m good. Thanks. How are you guys doing?
Rick: We are doing more than good. You just don’t – you don’t know how much fun it is as a dad to get to hang out on a Sunday morning playing in a studio with my son. So I’m having a great time. How are you doing? And thanks for listening to the show.
August: Thanks. Thanks. Thanks for taking my call. I really enjoy listening to your show and the topic today really resonate with me and I felt compelled to call in because drugs and alcohol have always been a part of my life.
Clayton: How so?
August: I grew up with drugs and alcohol. Both my parents were alcoholics and drug addicts. And then of course eventually I became – I had my own problems growing up and then as a teenager and then I married an alcoholic, got divorced from him, and now, I’m remarried. Said I’d never do that again. And then of course I see those little tendencies creeping up again and my husband now. So it has always been surrounding me.
Clayton: So watching your parents – in growing up, you watched your parents and their issues with alcohol and addiction, what message did that send you as a young kid about what that behavior looked like?
August: To be honest, as a young kid, I didn’t really – I didn’t know any different so I didn’t – it was when they eventually got sober when I was 11 or 12 that I started getting those different messages because everything changed. It went from basically raising myself. My brother and I being able to raise ourselves so all of a sudden, I had rules and things like that.
Rick: So it was actually more fun in your house it sounds like while they were using as opposed to when they were sober.
August: Yeah. I never really thought of it that way. But yeah, I guess it was. I was my own boss.
Rick: I’m kind of curious and you might be able to shed some light on this. I know our listeners would be interested in hearing the answer to this. But when – you said something like when you were young, that was just what was normal, being around parents that were using that. You were used to it. That was normal.
At what age, August, did you get to where all of a sudden you realized that that really wasn’t normal that they had problems and they had struggles? Did that light bulb ever go off for you or was it not until adulthood were you able to look back maybe and really discovered that?
August: It was in adulthood because where I grew up there was a lot of that going on. I came from – all from friends, our parents were divorced and they also were alcoholics themselves and drug addicts themselves. So my friends were drinking the same thing and I didn’t realize that there was something different until I was grown up.
Rick: If you’re just tuning in, I’m Rick Goldberg and this is Divorce Talk Radio. We’re talking about the impact of drugs and alcohol on marriage. We’re here every Sunday morning at 8:00 AM and you can download the podcast to this show or previous shows at KPRCRadio.com. We’re with August who is sharing about sort of how parents, her parents were using as she was growing up. She has kind of been sharing some of the impact and struggles with that.
So, are you sober now, August, in your life?
August: I am. I am now.
Rick: And how does that feel as a mother being sober and being able to raise your kids versus maybe how your mother was doing it?
August: It feels good. I feel like I am able to be very present with my kids. I am a much different parent than I had. I’m very present with my kids. I don’t pawn them off with babysitters so I can go party or be with my friends or do those things. And it feels good to me and I think in turn it feels good to them.
Clayton: August, you mentioned that your current husband right now maybe experiencing kind of the beginning stages of some use right now.
August: Yeah. My husband – it’s so perfect that you guys were doing this call today. I’m so grateful but there are no mistakes, right? This was just a conversation this morning. My husband had been – he was sober for five years when I met him. He was drinking. He was an alcoholic. He was young. He was sober for five years. And he started drinking again and we saw that it wasn’t really – he couldn’t do it. He wasn’t ready. He was wrong. He is alcoholic and he can’t just go back to it.
And now, what’s interesting is that he is not part of a program. He is not part of anything that I’m used to seeing people do when they get sober. I think they call that dry, right?
Clayton: Yeah, it’s a word to describe it.
August: And yeah, and so he is actually getting ready to go away again for work and we just had a conversation this morning about what happens when he’s around all of that again, when he doesn’t have the support that he needs and he’s around a bunch of guys and buddies that are drinking and doing those things and it looks like fun.
Rick: Well, August, we want to give you some feedback and we want to do it on the other side of the break. So will you hang in there with us while we take a break and we’ll come back to you in just a moment?
August: Sure, I’d love to.
Rick: OK. Fantastic. So we’re going to break right now and move into our last segment and continue this discussion with August and some of the issues that she is experiencing. This is Divorce Talk Radio 950 KPRC with Rick Goldberg. Stay tuned. We’ll be right back.
Rick: Welcome back everybody to Divorce Talk Radio. This is Rick Goldberg. We’re on KPRC 950. If you want to call us this morning, our number is 713-212-5950.
On the line with us is August. She has been sharing some issues around drinking and sobriety and things that are related with her husband right now. And so August, are you there?
August: Yeah, I’m here.
Rick: Yes. So you were sharing that you were just talking to your husband this morning. And go ahead and kind of pick that back up for us.
August: So, we were talking this morning. He’s getting ready to possibly leaving for quite a long time for work after having some on and off issues with alcohol. There had been some pretty dramatic results of his drinking in the past. And so we were just talking about what happens when it’s really easy to hold on and say no to a beer with the guys for a little while but what happens when eventually he has no support around him and he decides to make those decisions or when he makes those decisions, how does he get more support? How can I support him?
Clayton: So, it sounds like you want him to have some direction with his sobriety right now but you’re kind of left out of control on that aspect.
August: Yeah. Yeah, I would say that’s exactly it.
Clayton: Yeah, because he’s going to be going off and you can’t really keep tabs on him and really, do you really want that role of probation officer and trying to figure out what he is doing? So it sounds like what you – the difference here is support rather than direction. And a lot of times when there is an alcoholic in the family whether they are using or not and whether there’s somebody who – whether it would be the husband or the spouse and they’re together and they have kids, both parents aren’t engaged or aren’t participating in the children’s life or they’re not so much engaged. They’re not available for them because they’re so ingrained in making sure that each other are OK because there’s a problem in the household.
And so the solution becomes, “Well, I got to take care of myself. I got to make sure that I’m OK so that if I’m emotionally available, I can be available for my kids and I can be available for my job or for my activities wherever that is.” And start looking into, “What are my – what’s my spiritually look like? What am I doing on a daily basis? How am I choosing to come down from these things? How am I choosing to support him?”
So I would – it sounds like you’re between a rock and a hard place right now because you want to be able to know that he’s OK but not be the one telling him that he needs to be OK with all this stuff.
August: That would be a perfect way to sum it up.
Rick: So what would you like to say to him if he was here right now and he could listen to you, what would you really want to tell him?
August: I would like to tell him how much I love him and care about him and that how important he is to me and to the kids. And that him being healthy and making good decisions or poor decisions affects us all. And that I’m here for him in any way that I can be. And probably I would ask him, “What can I do to help support you make the best decisions moving forward?”
Rick: And what would you want to hear back from him if you could have anything back from him, what would you want to hear?
August: Ultimately, I would want to hear thank you for – him just acknowledging that he knows I’m here for him and that I have nothing to worry about that he’s going to do the things that he needs to do to stay sober and continue to be who he is for our family, be healthy for the family.
Rick: Well, that’s beautiful. He is really lucky to have a woman like you in his life that really loves him and supports him and wants the best for him. And I get that I know it seems like a struggle for you that in-between zone of really wanting to as Clay said, be a little bit of a probation officer kind of help give him some support and direction yet that’s a tough area to be in. Yet, I really see you kind of leaning on the side of wanting to just let go and really just hope that things will turn out the way things are supposed to turn out.
So, thanks so much for calling the show this morning. We really appreciate all your insights and have an amazing day.
August: Thanks. You too. Thanks for taking my call. Have a great day, guys.
Clayton: Thank you, August. Bye-bye.
Rick: So Clay, what do you think? That was a – it can’t be the only type of – it can’t be the only person that you’ve heard that’s kind of going through that sort of plight with their partner, right?
Clayton: No, I hear it all the time. I think the one thing the addict wants most of all if they’re in a relationship or with their families, they want trust back. They want trust back whether it’s quickly or right away at this moment just because they got sober. Trust is what they want the most back.
And the truth is, is that they’ll be willing to do whatever it takes, drug test me. I’ll tell you which kind of meetings I’m going to. I’ll tell you what kind of therapy I’m getting into and I’ll tell you about those conversations. And it’s like, whoa, whoa, pump the brakes a little bit because they don’t deserve all that information.
The truth is, is that their role in your life is wife or their role in your life is husband. Their role is not probation officer. Their role is not your therapist. Their role is not this other thing. And so, you telling them that it’s OK to get in that role totally tangles up the dynamics even more.
So, what I would say to the family and this is where the family component comes in, I work with all of them, and I would say, “Look, this is role. This is your hat that you wear. And you can put out your wants and you can state your concerns but at the end of the day, if you’re assertive with that, it’s up to them whether they’re going to make the decision to do that.” And then working with the addict on learning how to develop that trust with himself more than anybody because if he becomes a trusting person for himself then that’s the kind of person that he is going to be in his relationships.
Rick: Yeah, that’s a good point. I’m a big believer that everybody will get there at some point but everyone is just going to get there on their own timeline.
Clayton: Yeah. And until then, you just have to hope for the best and expect the worst and that’s the rock and hard place is that being accepting of not having control.
Rick: If you’re in a relationship and you suspect that your partner might be using or drinking a little bit too much, what are some of the early warning signs that as the non-using partner in the relationship you might be able to pick up on?
Clayton: Like which things that the partner might be doing or the addict might be doing?
Rick: What might the addict be doing that the unsuspecting partner might be able to pick up on? What kind of behavior changes, that type of thing.
Clayton: Maybe some lying, maybe some hiding a little bit, stretching the truth a little bit, not being accountable, not showing up to things that they said they’re going to show up to, disinterested with getting up for the day and going to work, not going to work. Really, it’s difficult to tell the signs in the early stages because a lot of times they’re not so loud.
The signs are – they’re not billboard signs, big billboard signs. They’re regular billboard signs that we drive by and we go, “Oh, we don’t read every billboard sign. We drive by a lot of them. We don’t read every single one of them.” So we only read the big ones. So it’s only until the big ones come out, “Oh my God! He cheated on me. Oh my God! He went out to go get Milky. He didn’t come back for three days.” It’s like, OK. Now, there’s a problem going on.
So, it’s hard to tell in the beginning. And there are a lot of different solutions that a lot of the partners try out to try to redirect the behavior or try to confront it and unfortunately, they do it wrong at the beginning. There’s an enabling that goes on and walking on eggshells, avoiding the problem, treating it like it’s a good thing because they’re so much more lively when they’re drinking and they love my friends when they’re drinking, when they’re a little boozed, and that’s OK. That’s a good thing.
And so, they’re almost reinforcing the behavior in a positive way. So that confuses the dynamics. It gets complicated. It gets tangled. It’s only until these big billboard signs start to show up that we start to read them.
Rick: So is there a maintenance that you think couples can go through from your perspective where you can kind of self-assess whether or not you think you have a drinking problem or not so that you can catch it early as opposed to waiting until it’s kicking you in the butt?
Clayton: I think that if you’re an alcoholic or if you think you might be an alcoholic, even the thought of, “Am I an alcoholic?” you’re probably an alcoholic because if you have to think about it, you probably do have a slight problem with it.
Rick: Do you have to put people through like alcohol or drug assessment test?
Clayton: Oh sure, sure. I think the unspoken rule is you’re never supposed to call somebody else an alcoholic unless you’re a therapist or a clinician that can actually diagnose for something like that. But – and just, alcoholic and an addict, they’re interchangeable, same terms.
Rick: So if you are – so what are some of those, and we just have a couple of minutes left before we’re going to end our show today, but what are some of those questions people can ask themselves or maybe they can even ask of their partner to see if there’s some issues in their family?
Clayton: Gosh! Am I happy? Am I happy without drinking or using? Am I being – am I living in integrity? Can my partner confront me on things and I not get too upset? Can I – do I feel guilty about doing good things? Do I feel like I deserve this?
Rick: Well definitely, I have to have you back on the show another time so we can maybe go into a little bit more of that. This has been a great Sunday morning, spending it with my son and our callers and you listeners have been really a great joy. You’ve been listening to Divorce Talk Radio 950 KPRC. This is Rick Goldberg. I’ll see you next Sunday.
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