The wildfire of addiction burns everyone

Of all serious psychological problems, it is perhaps addiction that has the potential to cause the most collateral damage.

The addict avoids their feelings while the hearts of those who love them are broken

“Addiction, at its worst, is akin to having Stockholm Syndrome. You’re like a hostage who has developed an irrational affection for your captor. They can abuse you, torture you, even threaten to kill you, and you’ll remain inexplicably and disturbingly loyal.”  Anne Clendening

Friends and family all too frequently simply cannot comprehend why the addict continues to abuse a substance or persists with self-destructive behaviour. It beggars belief that an addict will knowingly continue to do the things that have torn apart not only their intimate relationships but the very fabric of their life. The Stockholm Syndrome metaphor illustrates the control addiction continues to have notwithstanding the devastation often left in its wake.

Our metaphor of ‘the wildfire’ is even more powerful. The wildfire threatens far more than just the individual. It imperils homes, families, livelihoods, and even entire communities. Back burning, evacuation and firebreaks are perfect metaphors for establishing clear boundaries between the addicted and well-meaning people who love them. The key message is, “Fight the fire but don’t risk being consumed.” Remember your primary keystone principle of self-preservation: You can’t help anyone if you don’t first help yourself!

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How do you feel?

In crisis

I am struggling to hold things together.


I worry about everything all the time.


I have been sad and miserable for a long time.


I continue to use even though I know it is bad for me.

In pain

I am constantly in pain. It seems to go on and on and it never stops.
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