Listen, Learn, and Love - 3 Keys to Harmony

Dr. Joan's Advice

Date: 02/11/2014

By: Dr. Joan

Subject: Addiction and Relationships

Dear Scared Sister:

You say you need help understanding your relationship with your addicted sister. You ask if you are supposed to keep reaching out to her OR if you should stay out of the way because the two of you always end up in an argument.

Your dilemma rests on two major topics: Addiction and Relationships. We can’t get into depth here, but we can give you some basic pointers that might help you pursue more complete answers.

Let’s start with addiction. I’m no expert, but I have read that humans become addicted, let’s say to drugs, alcohol, or things like chocolate, because they feel a strong push or pull to satisfy the part of the brain that demands immediate gratification. Your sister’s brain may be yelling at her to seek instant gratification and she chooses street drugs to satisfy that push/pull in her brain. Your brain may be wired differently than hers and you don’t have that same need, or you may have higher resistance to it. Please study this idea and see if the information you discover helps you to understand your sister a bit better.

Now on to your relationship with your sister. I can’t observe the two of you in action together, but I can predict that your sister needs to know that you value her and love her. When she argues with you, whatever the topic, always verbalize ... tell her ... that you value her sistership and you love her. Tell her these things quietly, softly, and repeatedly. Therefore, in answer to your question about whether to keep interacting with your sister, I give you a loud YES. She needs to know she is valued and loved.

Finally, keep looking for little opportunities to introduce your sister to OTHER ways for satisfying her brain’s push/pull for instant gratification. There ARE other ways, such as: take a brisk walk in a beautiful forest, see a movie, listen to a favorite piece of music, learn to play guitar and get it out every time the push/pull strikes, go for a swim, visit a children’s hospital and take training to be a volunteer, call a friend and ask how her day is going. You might want to suggest to your sister that you would love to take up guitar with her, or join her in any alternative activity she selects.

Good luck, my dear, to you and your sister. And remember, the healing process, for anything, takes time.

Dr. Joan’s Harmony Key: Patience has rich rewards.

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