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"Codependent, WHY do we continue to rescue? "
copyright 2011, all rights reserved

by Toby Rice Drews
author of the "Getting Them Sober" books

When trying to end the rescuing of the alcoholic/addict from the consequences of their behaviors -- for many of us, instead of continually beating ourselves up about "Why am I continuing this rescuing?? Why can't I stop?!" -- it is much more effective to deal with the situation by focusing on, instead, the reason we rescue in the first place.

Much of the reason that we continue to rescue is due to the irrational guilt we feel if we, deep inside, believe that we're not nice if we don't rescue. How to effectively deal with this?

If we tell our guilt to take a back-seat for now -- not that it has to stop or go away, but just go to the back row -- and take the action -- do what we know is right -- we can often get past this stuck point. We often have the erroneous idea that we have to erase guilt before we can act.

When I am counseling parents of addicted children, I find that they often feel totally submerged in guilt... like it's quicksand and they're caught in it. But it doesn't have to be that way. When they really learn about this disease and learn how it is such a fatal and progressive disease, they are often then able to see the logic of putting their irrational guilt on the back burner, so that they can stop the rescuing and hopefully, the disease process in their child.

Let me give an example: Brad (not his real name) and his wife have a 22-year-old son who smashed up the car. Their son works three miles from home, and would have to walk 8 blocks to catch a bus to get to work if he couldn't get another car. Even though they knew it was not good to buy a car for a drinking alcoholic, they still felt very guilty about him having to walk in all kinds of weather.

They could finally get beyond that painful and deep guilt when they saw that there was a higher parent-love issue here: the issue of letting the alcoholic face the consequences of his own behavior so that he could feel the pain enough to maybe ask for help. So, they visualized the guilt actually walking to the back of an auditorium and sitting in the back row while they did what they had to do to stop the rescuing. It doesn't mean that we don't deal with the feelings.

It's just that we don't have to wait to take action until all our feelings are calming down. (Of course, like anything on or from this website, only do or not do any suggestions if they are good and safe for you and your family-- and it is good to get professional help to make those decisions.)------ best in recovery, Toby

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