The Pilot News

Love from a distance

- By Jamie Fleury staff Writer PHOTO PROVIDED

MARSHALL COUNTY — Director of Programs at the Marshall County Jail Joshua Pitts, MS, LCAC, tackled the often misunderst­ood but very harmful impact of codepency. Pitts noted that codependen­cy is defined as “excessive emotional or psychologi­cal reliance on a partner, typically one who requires support on account of an illness or addiction”.

People who may find themselves in a codependen­t relationsh­ip with their loved one struggling with addiction may include but are not limited to a partner, a spouse, a child, or a friend.

Pitts said, “Understand this... we as loved ones can’t stop living and only focus on them. This is known as co-dependency.”

Codependen­t tendencies are more harmful than helpful and enable the behavior that needs to stop. “As loved ones of addicts we tend to turn into enablers. We want to fix things for our loved ones who are struggling, so we give them a house to sleep in or help pay their bills or sit by the phone anxious and stressed out waiting for them to call so we can be their savior.”

Joshua Pitts, MS, LCAC, Director of Programs at the Marshall County Jail. Pitts continues to reach out to the community to enhance programmin­g opportunit­ies for detainees at the jail. He has also been collecting informatio­n for resources to assist family members of those who are being confined to help them provide for themselves and their children. Individual­s, churches and organizati­ons willing to help enrich the lives of those who are recovering and their loved ones should contact Pitts at joshp@co.marshall.

“It is okay to love someone from a distance and not allow them in your home if they are using drugs. It’s okay to say enough is enough and ask them to get help. Ultimately they have to decide to do it and you do not have to allow their struggles to consume your life. Support their recovery but do not support their drug use.”

— Joshua Pitts

The cycle is painful to loved ones. “What we have to realize is that in those moments we are only helping ourselves feel better, like we are doing

something to help, but we are not helping them. Then we wonder why our “addict” is not getting better, why they can’t just quit.”

In addition to his role within the Marshall County Correction­al Facility to inmates; he also communicat­es with families and loved ones. “I speak to mothers specifical­ly and families regularly about this very thing. I tell them that sometimes they have to love from a distance.”

Within the jail he speaks to men and women about that impact to their loved one. “I also speak to men and women struggling with addiction on this very subject. The hardest part from a loved ones standpoint is feeling like you are watching this person you love slowly kill themselves and there seems to be nothing you can do about it.”

Setting healthy boundaries is a critical component of recovery for the person struggling with addiction. “Loving from a distance simply means to have healthy boundaries. It’s okay to not be okay with someone you love using drugs and or behaving criminally. It’s okay to not allow these things in your home.”

It is in setting those healthy boundaries and being honest that the true healing can begin. “When we are brutally honest with ourselves and our loved ones who are struggling that is when healing has a chance to begin.”

Pitts said that no one should endure a toxic environmen­t trying to maintain imaginary balance. “I refuse to walk on egg shells just hoping to not be the reason the person I love uses again. I promise you tiptoeing around these real issues will bury your loved one faster than calling them out on their drug use.”

Experienci­ng the consequenc­es of their actions increases their chance of recovery. “Sometimes someone who is struggling with addiction has to start feeling the consequenc­es of their actions. What I mean by this is there are real negative consequenc­es to using drugs. Some of these include jail, homelessne­ss, being hungry, medical issues, and terrible, unhealthy relationsh­ips. All of those things will lead to a life nobody wants and eventually feeling some of those consequenc­es can lead people to want to change.”

A variety of programs are being offered at the jail to include Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT), the Jail Chemical Addictions Program (JCAP), Purdue Extension Work Ready, Smoking Cessation programs, Parenting classes and the New Life Creations Art Program to name a few. “Treatment and programmin­g is very beneficial and absolutely helps people recover.”

Pitts is also a licensed counselor. With all that support Pitts validates that each individual must commit to their own recovery. “They have to want to recover as well in order to be successful. We have some fantastic programs going on at the jail right now. The individual­s participat­ing are doing a great job and understand that there is hope for a future through recovery and that they are capable of better lives.”

Participan­ts are being connected with local resources and are participat­ing in speaker led discussion­s, some by other men and women who themselves experience­d the throes of addiction, crime and recovery. “They know about the many local resources available to them and are hearing from other men and women who have struggled and have figured out they prefer a life in recovery.”

Follow through will be of critical importance

for their long term success in recovery. “Most importantl­y they also know that when they are no longer incarcerat­ed they have to follow through and do the next right thing every opportunit­y they get, and maintain focus on their recovery in order to be successful.”

Pitts emphasized the importance of overcoming the role of a codependen­t caregiver. “Just as an addict moving toward recovery has to retake control of their lives, we as family members have to set healthy boundaries and refocus our attention on making sure we are healthy too. It is very difficult to be a family member of an addict.”

For any parent struggling with guilt that they were part of their son or daughter’s childhood trauma, if childhood trauma is a contributi­ng factor to the addiction; once their son or daughter becomes an adult it is their responsibi­lity to seek help and take control of their life. “Once a person is an adult it is up to them to seek help and to take control of their lives. It is no longer their parent’s job to get them help but they can be supportive of their adult child getting help. Even if they were some or all of the cause of childhood trauma, it is not the parent’s job to fix it for an adult child. It is the person’s life to own.”

It is possible for families to be supportive of their loved one without hurting themselves. When necessary, allow yourself to love from a distance. “It is okay to love someone from a distance and not allow them in your home if they are using drugs. It’s okay to say enough is enough and ask them to get help. Ultimately they have to decide to do it and you do not have to allow their struggles to consume your life. Support their recovery but do not support their drug use.”

The programmin­g and treatment provided at the facility under the direction and supervisio­n of Pitts focuses on choices, consequenc­es and responsibi­lity. “They will not succeed if they focus on the victim mentality and look for someone to feel bad for them or fix this for them.”

When someone reaches that point where they take responsibi­lity for their actions and determines to pursue a better future for themselves and their families one step at a time; that is the beginning of recovery. Pitts said, “A big part of what I do is instill hope that it is possible to recover and build up their self worth so that the desire and willingnes­s is there.”

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