Just over five years ago my life was in complete turmoil. I was in a marriage with an out of control addict. I had lost practically all of my possessions due to my husband pawning anything valuable to support his habit, and we were on the verge of foreclosure. I felt emotionally and physically broken down. I really couldn’t find anything in my life to feel happy about. I felt completely powerless.

After almost two decades of living with an addict, my own mental health had been affected. As my husband’s addiction grew more and more out of control, I gathered the courage to visit a twelve-step family recovery meeting. I discovered that I had formed the patterns of codependency.

I began to read anything I could get my hands on about codependency. I learned what detachment meant, what my role had been in enabling my husband, and the importance of focusing on my own life. But regardless of how much I learned, I couldn’t seem to overcome the negative patterns that had formed. I just kept doing the same old things over and over again. It was like a bad habit that I couldn’t break.

I then came across a section of books in the library that taught the tools of affirmations and visualization. The ideas shared in these books intrigued me, and I started to try them out for myself. I immediately loved the practice of repeating affirmations, and my mind latched on to them like much-needed nourishment. It was amazing how quickly my frame of mind began to improve.

Visualization was an exciting concept for me. I created my own vision board, and spent time every day imagining my dream life, feeling the peace and happiness I desired. The more time I spent visualizing, the more confident I grew. What might have seemed like wishful thinking in the beginning, began to take form. Within a very short time I had bloomed into a new woman.

Through the tools of affirmations and visualization, my self-esteem grew strong. For many years I had lost touch with my own inner strength, but that changed. I came to realize that there was a power greater than addiction, and that power was myself, the power within me.

I had finally found the missing piece. It is one thing to have knowledge, but having the strength to follow through on what you know is right, is something else all together. It’s like being on a diet and knowing that you should order the side of broccoli, but you end up ordering the French fries instead. It isn’t until you find the inner strength to say “no” to the French fries, that positive changes start to take place.

Finally, I had found the strength to walk away from the arguments, to detach and focus on my own goals, and to appreciate the simple joys in life. My husband noticed the changes, and I sensed a newfound respect from him. What was once a household filled with hostility had now become quite calm.

Although my husband was still using, I was no longer consumed by his problems. I encouraged him to get professional help and he slowly became more receptive. But each time he got close to admitting himself into treatment, he would get scared and back out.

For the first time in our marriage I was able to set healthy boundaries, and I gave him an ultimatum, either he went into treatment or I was leaving him. I’m sure he thought I was bluffing, but this time I was ready to follow through. He chose not to go. The next morning I left with my son and moved into my father’s home.

Leaving was the toughest thing I’ve ever done, but I stayed strong and refused to return home unless he went into treatment. Close to one month later, he was ready to surrender and get help. He admitted himself into a three month in-patient program. He emerged from treatment healthy and strong and with a new outlook on life. It has now been over five years and we are enjoying a healthy marriage together.

I discovered that the family really can make a difference. You don’t have to wait for the person suffering with addiction to be ready, that day may never come. You can open the doorway to recovery and lead the way.

For myself, recovery from co-addiction came in three distinct stages. I call these the pieces to the recovery puzzle:

Piece #1 - Gain knowledge about addiction:

It’s difficult to help another person if you don’t understand the problem. This includes understanding what your role has been in enabling the addict in your life. If you were told that your child had diabetes you would learn everything you could about the disease. You would arm yourself with knowledge. You would stop buying sugary snacks, and you would probably make a lot of changes as a family in order to help your child with his or her battle. Like diabetes, addiction is a disease. By learning as much about addiction as possible, families can help their loved ones to recovery.

Piece #2 - Reach out for help:

Because of the stigma attached to addiction, families often keep the problems a secret. But by keeping the addiction a secret, we are only further enabling the disease. You deserve all of the help and support you can get. I urge you to turn to the people you trust, and let them help to lift your load. Look for the people in your life who have always been there for you and loved you unconditionally.

There are also countless support groups available to turn to. One of the best forms of support, for those of us involved with an addict, is Al-Anon. What better group of people to turn to for comfort and support than those who are living with the same struggles? The most important thing is to break out of your isolation. Spending time outside of the addictive environment is crucial to your well-being. A support group can be any group of people who encourage your positive growth. Look for opportunities to spend time with people who are positive and leave you feeling good about yourself.

Piece #3 - Harness your inner strength:

What is inner strength? It is the power inside that pushes you to action even when you’re scared, that allows other peoples’ behaviors and comments to roll off your back no matter how hurtful they may be, that gives you the willpower to accomplish your goals regardless of how large they are. Inner strength comes from having a close connection to your spirit.

The more in tune you are to the voice inside of you, the stronger you will be. People call that inner voice many different things: intuition, Higher Power, God, or you may call it something else altogether. It doesn’t matter what you name it, as long as you build a close relationship to it. There are countless ways to build your inner strength, here are just some of the tools I used: meditation, affirmations, visualization, and prayer.

This last piece proved to be the most important for me. While I had been learning about addiction for some time, and visiting recovery groups, it wasn’t until I tapped into my inner strength that I was able to make a full recovery from codependency. Once my husband realized that I was no longer a partner in his disease, he was left with the options of accepting help, or progressing in his disease alone. Thankfully, he made the choice to get help.

While addiction is a cunning disease, and could always rear its ugly head again, our family is now healing. After nearly twenty years of addiction I had my doubts, but I now know that recovery is possible. While none of us chose this path consciously, a deeper love exists for the families that make is to the other side. There is hope for our families. There is life after addiction.

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Espich is the author of "Soaring Above Co-Addiction: Helping your loved one get clean, while creating the life of your dreams". After nearly two decades of living through the turbulence of an addictive relationship, she created a plan to gain back control of her life. As a result, she not only turned her own life around, but encouraged her husband to accept treatment and overcome his long-time drug addiction. She is now passionate about helping other families to overcome the devastating effects of addiction. She utilizes her fifteen years of experience as a professional trainer and coach to facilitate workshops based on the principles of her book. She is also available for one-on-one coaching. For more information visit http://www.soaringabovecoaddiction.com