As someone who has treated people with alcohol and drug problems, as well as other issues, I never dreamed that I would one day have an addict in my family. The addict in my family is my dog, Dafka. If you’ve looked at my web site, you’ll know that he is my co-therapist. He is addicted to his soccer ball. It used to be his kong, and now it’s the ball. He can keep playing with it for hours. You can see him on YouTube playing soccer. I realized that he was addicted to it one day when I let him out and I was carrying the ball. He sat and started to shake all over before I gave it to him. It was kind of funny, seeing this big black dog so totally and absolutely focused on this black and white round thing in my hand. He never concentrated on anything else, except the kong, in that way. If he is offered a treat, he totally ignores it if he has the ball. The ball comes before eating. The biggest surprise was discovering that the ball came before a walk. Previously, when he heard his leash, he would be all excited and come running. Now, if he has the ball, he’ll stop and consider which is more fun.
When I started to write this, I thought that it would be kind of a cute story. I came to realize that it is actually an almost perfect metaphor for someone with an addiction, and it is neither funny nor cute. As anyone who has dealt with addiction in any form knows, whether it be drug or process, whatever the addiction, feeding the addiction comes before anything else–family, friends, work, play, sex, health, food–you name it.
An integral part of addiction includes the ritual involved in obtaining the coveted item. A person with an addiction may or may not include others in her/his ritual. I, of course, am an inseparable part of Dafka’s addiction ritual. He cannot get his beloved ball without me, and we do have a ritual. When he gets up, he has to go outside without the ball; come back in when he’s ready and eat. When he is finished eating, he comes into the kitchen and sits and stares at the backdoor waiting for me to let him out. He absolutely does not move anything except his rib cage as he is breathing. When I finally open the door, he dashes down the stairs to get his beloved ball. I guess that you could say that I’m being codependent, and enabling him.
If you see yourself in any of this, either as someone suffering from addiction or as a codependent, I would strongly urge you to find someone to talk with. You deserve to take care of yourself. I have worked with addicts and alcoholics for many years. Please call me at 415-474-6707, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be honored to accompany you on your healing journey. I look forward to hearing from you.
Zora L. Kolkey, MFT
License #MFC 23012
Web Site: http://www.BayAreaCounselingWithZora.com
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