Episode 78: Loving Someone with an Addiction: A Conversation with Nicholas Mathews
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Hey, thanks for coming. Welcome to the Love Shack.
Hey, welcome to the Love Shack. It's a little a place where we get to get together, explore fresh perspectives and eavesdrop on juicy conversations and discover the things that really matter while having a little bit of fun along the way. This is episode number 78. We're gonna be talking about loving someone with an addiction, a conversation with Nicholas Matthews. He happens to be a recovered addict himself as well as creates and has invested in setting up his own rehabilitation centers. It's gonna be an incredible conversation. And listen, I know that addiction is a tough topic to talk about. It's not one that we get overly excited to engage. In. In fact, it's usually a place where we try and shy away and we wanna support you in all of us together facing this conversation and talking about it openly so that not only can we support the people that we love, that maybe you listening to this podcast or personally struggling with addiction. And we need to find some better ways to have these conversations and support both sides of this conversation because here's an alarming statistic. 21 million Americans have at least one addiction and yet 10% of them truly receive the treatment they need in order to recover. So this means that most likely we are or have already encountered someone with an addiction or I'm struggling myself. So today in the Love Shack, we're gonna be discussing this topic.
Absolutely. We're gonna be discussing how affect addiction, excuse me, affects your closest relationship and how you can get some help and support with this. Again, this is a place very near and dear to both Staci and my hearts. If you're struggling personally, you're looking for answers to support a loved one with an addiction. In this episode for you as Staci shared, we have Nick or Nicholas Matthews as our guest this week inside the Love Shack. Nick is a substance abuse and addiction expert who dedicates his life to helping others get to the root of their addiction. Nicholas will be sharing some strategies for facing the struggles of substance abuse. And after listening to this episode is, you know, this is always our intent for some significant relevant takeaways immediately after you're done listening, you'll understand the impact addiction can have on relationships with actionable strategies for facing understanding and talking about the struggle of addiction.
Yeah. Hi, we're Thomas and Staci Bartley. For any of you who are new to listening to the show, we help committed couples rescue their relationships so they can finally create longer-lasting love in their lives without having to spend hours analyzing their past, invading themselves up, or feeling like they're making no progress at all. We do this via sharing our unique frameworks, teaching new skills and our signature courses love for a lifetime and relationship rescue. It's a pleasure to truly be here with you today. We are gonna take a quick break and we'll be right back to introduce you to Nicholas Matthews and this important conversation that is time for us to turn and face and learn some better ways of navigating through it and dancing with it in our lives. We'll be right back.
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Hey babe, did you know that the average couple spends only two hours a day with each other? And the majority of that time is spent eating, watching TV, and surfing social media rather than connecting with each other. And if children are involved, my gosh, it's even much time than that.
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Welcome back inside the Love Shack. We are your hosts Tom and Staci Bartley episode 78, and really, really stepping into a very, very important conversation as I shared earlier. And Staci did as well. This is a subject, I would say, both addiction and or of health, and Nick's going to share with us they, they kind of run along parallel where one ends and another one starts. We're not quite sure, but again, we've both had previous spouses that have battled with this, and our children and brother, so.
And we support many clients.
Exactly. And with a lot of clients. So this is really, really important. And we're gonna step right into this very important conversation.
We have Nicholas Matthews who happens to be the founder of Stillwater, behavioral health. He has a dual diagnosis treatment facility that personalizes care and helps those struggling to recover from substance addiction and mental health disorders. Nicholas also is a personal recovery story. He abused opioids at a young age before becoming a heroin addict at the ripe old age of 16 years old. Like, take that in for a minute. Holy cow. It was only when he developed a life-threatening liver condition that he realized he needed to get. So after succeeding, the cool part is he knows and has walked the talk. He knows what it's like to be a struggling addict himself. And he's dedicated his life to guiding others into sobriety, by becoming a consultant for various treatment facilities. And this work made him determined to fix deficiencies and the clinical settings of care and boost the overall effectiveness of treatment programs. That's when Stillwater was born, he intends to grow the facility to help even more people regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds. And he currently studies at the Harvard business school online, Nick it's truly a pleasure and a get to have this conversation with you. So welcome to the show.
Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Yeah. So we would love to start with your personal story if that's okay. Because a lot of us both, you know, those of us not struggling with addiction and those who are in the throes of it currently, we don't really believe that it's possible sometimes, right? For us, that doesn't struggle. It's like, well, just, this is a really simple fix. Just don't do it. You know? I mean, problem solved all of this stuff that we're dealing with in our lives and our, and our relationship could be fixed if you just wouldn't do that thing. You do. So just stop. And, and those of us who are struggling to go, it's not that simple. Right? You just don't get it. You don't understand me. And so I'm, I'm really looking forward to listeners hearing your story just so that you can understand and relate to both sides of that conversation that I know are playing out in the minds of those who are listening to this conversation right now.
Sure. Yeah. Yeah. so I, I think I'll preface this by saying that my story is not a particularly happy one. And, and I share are, you know, completely transparently. I'm, I don't really have any shame or stigma. I think it's such a common thing for me. I just kinda wanna embrace people. It's a little bit of a rough one. As I think most people who have what I have, which would be, you know, it categorizes as alcoholism or drug addiction. They're usually not good stories. You know, the way it kind of comes to a head is almost never pleasant and it's never for somebody else. Right. So, you know growing up my mother who is you know, really a Saint, right, she's a remarkably good person. You know, my father's also he was very abusive very, very abusive, physically, emotionally, mentally, etcetera, to her myself. Um, she made the kind of executive decision to remove him from the house when I was about eight after some violent outbursts. That just wasn't okay. You know, unfortunately, childhood trauma is such an interesting thing to discuss because when you're a kid and one of the pitfalls I think of sharing my story is a lot of times people will try and compare their own sort of, you know their own trauma to mine and vice versa. We tend to do that as human beings. We just like to compare ourselves to other people, but when you're seven, the worst thing that you've ever gone through in your life up until that point is still the worst thing you've ever gone through in your life. And my point in saying that is that trauma is trauma. I'm a believer that most, if not all of addiction is a symptom of trauma because it's a medication, it's a medication to learn how to exist with these feelings of uncomfortability, the fear, the anxiety, all these things that we exist with. Um if you're living with this sort of consistent feeling, of PTSD and it's kind of controlling your life, well, I hate to say it, but the greatest thing that's gonna help medicate that for a little bit is gonna be heroin. You know, so I started, I think when I was 11 years old was the first time I ever got stoned with some friends on marijuana. And I remember enjoying myself way more than they did. I remember feeling like, oh, this is where I wanna be. And I really do I'm not lying when I say, I remember that distinct thought going, oh, this is perfect. Right? And not, not even having the sort of cognitive where all to identify that I had just medicated a problem that I've been living with for years. I didn't realize what I was doing. I just know, oh, this is incredible. I feel so much better. And it planted a seed. It planted a seed that I could take an external substance to deal with my internal problems. Yeah. The problem is, is that marijuana slowly but surely stopped working and then you graduate to pills and alcohol, and then that stops working. And it's sort of a, as you build tolerance, it's kind of a, it's a graduation process until, sorry, go ahead.
I was just gonna ask you the question. So in your opinion, knowing what, you know, personally and professionally, would you say that marijuana is a gateway drug? What is your point and takeaway on that?
You know, I, I think that that's an interesting question because for me it absolutely was. However, I don't think that that's necessarily always the case. I think why you use marijuana in the first place is what's gonna determine if it's a gateway or not. If you are medicating to escape, whether subconsciously or consciously that medicine will stop working and you will naturally lead to something else now, hopefully, that's something else is a much healthier coping skill, but if you're like me and you're alone and nobody to talk to and no advice, nobody to lean to you're just going to move on to a different medication. So it's kind of, a roundabout way of answering the question, but I get this a lot where I have people that are concerned like, oh, I smoke marijuana. Am I gonna be doing heroin in three years. I'm like, well, relax. Do you know what I mean? Right. I dunno, you know, it really depends on why.
Well, and one of the conversations that I love to have in my clinical practice is this just to give everyone an even playing field and to normalize the conversation of addiction, what we don't realize is that I could be addicted to shopping. I could be addicted to sugar. I could be, we live in the endurance capital of the world here in Auburn, California. I could be addicted to running and I used to run five miles. Now I run 10. Now I run 50. Now I run a hundred now, you know, and it comes from the very same emotional driver where I'm trying to escape reality and I'm turning to things to help me cope. And so we have these things that we deem, you know, not-so-good addictions that really wreak havoc in our lives. And some that we would say are, is preferable, like high performance, can be an addiction, right? Overworking overexercising. Overshopping anything that we do in excess to escape our lives. I just wanna normal by saying we could all look. And probably all of us would find that we have some way of coping with the DISE that we feel emotionally and physically in our lives. And yeah, some of it leads to substance abuse. And, and yet I, I wanna normalize this, and I would love your thought on this. It's coming from the same emotional driver, which is out of escape or dealing with pain. And I always like to ask the question too, of what if we didn't do it then, because it's a survival mode, right? It's a survival skill. And if I didn't cope, then as a seven-year-old boy, like you were saying, how would I have coped? Instead, you were going to, it was inevitable for you to find some way of coping with what, you are emotionally feeling. You know, some little boys are gonna do it in baseball. Some little boys are gonna find marijuana, some right are gonna do other things, but we're all going to find a way to cope just a little bit, because we need to, to survive, which is just survival mode is just something that buys us time, right. It doesn't fix our problem. Often times adds, you know, different complications and things that we drive ourselves to, but it buys us time to turn it around, understand, figure it out, fix it, et cetera. So I, as you tell your story, I mean, I'd love to know how you feel about that, right?
Sure. No, I look, I, I think you kind of hit the nail right on the head. And it's often one of the things that I will use to kind of help somebody identify because again, my story can be rather extreme and we're talking intravenous, crystal meth, and heroin. So a lot of people will either recoil completely from that and, and detach from any identification, or I will be speaking their exact language. And they're like, will you sponsor me? Those are really the two, the two, you know situations I get from telling my story. And, and I think you are right. I think that you know, it's, it's human nature to sort of find some kind of an external resource that's gonna help us exist. Every buddy has some version of trauma and more importantly, you're right. We all do need to cope. The difference is, is that some of these coping skills can actually kill you. Or they're, you know, you can get a felony charge for them or whatever that may be. They're really dangerous. Others. it's funny that you mentioned running, I have a friend of mine whom you know, a member of a 12 step program. And so I go to my meetings every week and stuff, and I, I know a fellow in there who he has north of 30 years of sobriety which is a significant chunk of time off of substances, but in the last couple of years has had to have a series of surgeries on his leg because of the running. He cannot stop running and his doctors are telling him, Hey, you're bone on bone. You don't have any more cartilage off of the hips. Stop. And he can't do it. He, he like he has we teased him about his addiction replacement. Like, oh, you put down cocaine, but you picked up running.
Yes. I always say, if you gotta run a hundred miles, you're running from something, let's just be honest. Let's explore this a little deeper.
Yeah. And you know, I think that's, what's been so valuable about my experience in recovery is what recovery has been for me and is for a lot of people is finding an internal solution, a spiritual solution, if you will, to a spiritual problem. That's what I struggle with. It was, it's a malady, it's a malady of self. This need to escape because when left to my own devices, I'm uncomfortable in my own skin. So this process, the deadly addiction that I had, and the path that it took me down really did force me to legitimately find that solution. And I think that an internal solution is really difficult because it's not immediate. It's not the same sort of immediate response you get. You know, if somebody who let's say they have an internet addiction or a video game addiction or something, that's not particularly dangerous, but does adversely affect their life. Right. they're gonna feel immediate relief as soon as they look at their phone, immediate it's, it's instant gratification at its fineness in the path that I take today is no longer instant gratification, but it is limitless gratification meaning I can continue to tap into that well, to take care of myself and be okay. And for that, I think that the trade-off is probably pretty fair.
No, I love that. That's a great distinction. I love that limitless, right? It's not instant, but it's limitless and it can help support me and, and help me cope with difficulty. Right? Because it's gonna be part of life, the disappointment the emotional triggers, those kinds of things. One of the things I'm really passionate about is talking about normalizing emotional pain as though it's not something that's wrong with us, right. We're not broken. It's a normal, natural part of life.
Would you say, Nick? I also, love that limitless gratification, yet it's not instant. So would you say that's the main challenge with working with people, you know, helping them understand, you know, we can get you to limitless, but there needs to be some investment into developing this limitless, limitless capability and capacity versus the instant dopamine hit if you will.
Yeah. Right. I mean, that's the biggest sort of struggle when you're trying to help somebody is, is if you think about it as a sales job, let's say if I'm selling vacuum cleaners, I can just show you via demonstration. Look how good this vacuum cleaner is. But for me to sell you a way of life, you have to trust me when I tell you that it works. And that is a difficult pitch because, you know, this is an addiction and alcoholism almost always manifests in isolation. Kind of closing off from people around you. So we then become the most important people in the universe. We are, there's no problem bigger than our problems. And we have, we don't have the ability to see past our nose sometimes. So to try and get somebody to trust me, this investment in yourself will pay off dividends in the future. It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of effort. It really does. Cuz you know, we're kind of an inherently distrustful population if you will, as addicts and alcoholics.
Yeah, for sure. And, and you know, what you're, what you're pointing to is, you know, the emotional body and the physical body, which both are so real, I call 'em our human navigation system. And oftentimes we want to find a physical solution for our emotional challenges and pain because that's what makes sense to us. Right? We just like your demonstration with the vacuum. It's like, if I can see something physical and how it works and it makes sense to me, okay, then, then I, it gives me a sense of calm and ease. But when we start talking about the emotional drivers in our lives, those are, you know, ethereal, they're invisible, nonetheless just as concrete oxygen is invisible is pretty important. And, and our emotions are very much like that, right? So it's difficult for us to take that leap of faith and find an emotional solution to our emotional health and wellbeing because a physical solution makes way more sense to us. Right. I find that couples really tend to argue and fight and pander about, you know, the circumstances when really what's driving the show is the emotional experience of those circumstances. That's what the problem is. So it doesn't really matter per se, what the circumstances were, you bounced, the check, you, you, you did, you know, in our conversation, you, you took the addiction, those kinds of things. It's like, what was the emotional driver that led to you feeling like you needed to do that? That's what we need to have a conversation about, which kinda leads us to something that I wanted to really discuss and dive deep into you with you is the codependency nature of relationships when it comes to addiction. Right? Because that is such a huge part of the dance that starts to play out in relationships. Do, did you personally in your journey have an experience where you were in a relationship where somebody was very codependent and, and as were you, and you did the dance of relationship while you were, you know, using
Oh, sure. If I own a pair of sneakers for too long, I become codependent on the sneakers. It's really common. You know, again, when we're talking about external validators, what's better than a person what's better than a human being. You're, you're better half and whatever that looks like for you, but a person validating that behavior co-signing telling you that you're okay telling you, you don't need to do the work and going so far is to manipulate them, to give you what you need. Mm. You know, I recognized and I think I'm, I'm probably still recognizing and constantly on a journey of self-discovery and self-improvement, but I have a really bad habit of using human beings to my own benefit, rather than focusing on what I can contribute to their lives, to have improved their lives. I focus on what they can do in my life. That in and of itself is a broken belief system in a, a, a broken way of looking at potential relationships. And it feeds codependency. Because as soon as I let somebody get close to me, it's because they have something that I need or something that I want or something that I expect and expectations keep me sick because they're a person they're not perfect. More importantly, the minute that they have any sort of boundary and they, they no longer want to give me that. Maybe it's you keep lying to me. So I'm, I'm no longer gonna be okay with this. And they set a boundary. Well, now I will vilify you and remove you from my world. It, it's a really nasty habit. You know, I think that you can use your partner. You can use interpersonal relationships and this isn't just romantic. This could be friends or mentors, supervisors, or anybody close to you. You can use other people the same way that I use heroin. You really can use that dynamic to validate your existence and protect yourself from having to do any work.
And I also see where it becomes really handy. If you have somebody who wants to be that supportive, loving person in your life, start cleaning up your messes. Right. So, so then it makes it even easier for me, to use and justify what it is I'm doing.
Yeah. I would just say, Nick, this is a place in my prior marriage. I mean, help us understand what could we give the listeners? Let's say that, you know, I'm a, I'm the non-addictive spouse or close partner, and this is something I delicately danced for many, many years when, you know, how does one decide what is supportive and truly will serve our addictive partner? And what is, what is enabling that partner? I, I always struggled that with continuously.
Yeah. Enabling is an interesting one because I think it does vary from person to person, you know, ways in which I think the traditional view is like giving you money, not holding boundaries. Those are traditional easy things to identify as enabling. But what about when we have a conversation and you're upset because I keep drinking every night when I get off work. So I tell you, you know, what you're right. I think I do have a problem. And as soon as this is done, I'm gonna take care of it. I promise you. And then that gives you some hope. And it makes you feel like you had a small victory in the relationship and you were heard and you were validated right. Fast forward six months, and you have the same exact conversation. You know what you are, right. It is still me. I really do need to do something about this. I promise I will. And then you, again, agree and say, okay, well I'm, I'm getting somewhere from my position. That's still enabling, right? The sort of inability to set firm boundaries and follow-through can enable behavior because we're now, we teach people how to treat us, right. And if we're letting the people that we care about the most placate us and tell us what we wanna hear. And you keep doing that over and over then guess what the dynamic of your relationship has become. It's a juggling act of I'm gonna keep pushing and pushing and pushing, and then I know exactly what I need to do to get out of trouble. So enabling can be a very, very fine line. One of the things I always encourage people is whatever you do in a relationship, be it a personal boundary confronting somebody leaving in some extreme circumstances, like separating for a while, whatever that looks like, whatever you do, make sure that you do it for you and not to them I view enabling as a series of intentions, what, what is the intention behind the decision? And if the intention is pure, then I always encourage people to try and trust their instincts and take, put one step in front of the other.
Nick, what you just said is profound. And I really wanna just pause here for a moment in the conversation for our listeners, because it's so important that you understand what was just said, the intent is it to make them pay, or is it because it's something you know you need to do for yourself? Is it because you know, you yourself personally have run out of emotional gas and options and that now you are starting to break down, there's a very fine line between breakthrough as a couple, and that we're making progress. As you mentioned, and break down both personally and relationally, those boundaries absolutely need to be honored. And when you do those things, you know, he's given you a very fine place that it has a great implication, where you look at the intent of why you're doing what you're doing, and you make your best decisions from there. If you're breaking down, it's important that you stop that. That's a boundary, right? And I've got to leave now not to make you pay for your drinking or what you've caused as far as pain and upset in our relationship. But because I'm doing it for us, for our family, for our children, for me.
And I would say, Nick, let me just stack on that if I may. So would you not to generalize, but I mean, I'm, again, speaking from my own experience, would you say, you know, walking this delicate place that you so eloquently and incredibly accurately described, is there probably more leniency that is often, you know extended to our struggling partner than maybe when it would be needed to be tightened up, not to generalize, but you follow what I'm asking there?
So meaning instead of, you know, you, you had given us the example now we're six months later and you know, you said, okay, you're right. I still have a problem. So as the non-addictive spouse, husband, wife, partner would say like, look, I'm gonna give you not, you know, we need to, like in the short amount of time, I need some significant demonstration by you that you're taking this more seriously than the last six months that has elapsed. , you know?
What you're saying, babe is like drawing harder boundaries?
Yeah, maybe. And I tended to just, you know, the timeline seemed to be kind of never, you know, the string was always lengthened and I'm not, you know, but I'm not trying to say, but it sounds like, again, it is such a hard place as a loving spouse to do that. Right. Or towards your child. I mean, I know that I'm in your, I'm talking to the choir here, so, right. You know, I guess I'm looking for some more distinction on what you have found professionally is that usually the case where maybe a shorter timeline should have been extended versus a longer timeline for drawing that boundary?
You know, there is the interesting thing about this because setting that boundary and this kind of ties to what I said about doing things for you and not to them, because if I'm doing it to you, what, what I'm subconsciously doing is I'm tying an expectation to you. I'm leaving myself susceptible to being let down by your behavior, lack thereof, or whatever it is that you're doing. That's bothering me so much. Okay. And boy, our expectations of real struggle and relationships Every time I talk to people, I'm like, well, what did, why do you have so much expected expectation on this person? So to answer your question, I think those boundaries whether I give you 30 days, six months, or 10 years if you never wanna change the behavior you want. And it doesn't matter if I give you all the time in the world if I'm sitting there expecting you to want to change your behavior, whether it's for me or for yourself that is not going to work. Boundaries have to be incredibly personal in this kind of situation, at least in my experience, Hey, I know you wanna do that. I know you wanna have beers every night when you come home. I am not okay with it. It triggers me. It makes me feel uncomfortable and unsafe in my own home. Unfortunately, I can't be privy to it. I can't sit oddly by and allow it to happen in my home. Whatever you do with that information, that's on you. And, and I think what happens is these boundaries oftentimes are what you're gonna check into treatment within the next 30 days. But what nobody ever really wants to discuss is if I do go to treatment, I'm really doing it for you, cuz I don't want my wife to yell at me anymore. I just wanna come home and have beers after work. Right. so this is, is why I think it's tremendously important to get some counseling or couple's therapy as you go through this process because having a mediator it's, it's, it's a lot easier said than done. Like what I'm describing to you is simple enough that you can wrap your mind around it, right at that moment when you're raw and vulnerable and hurt. And you just want, I want you to wanna do this for me. Can't you see that I'm hurting? Well, unfortunately, you're constantly leaving yourself susceptible to being let down. So find a mediator, find, find that sort of passion for self-care put yourself forward, and on the forefront of the conversation and your results are, are gonna be a lot better than setting boundaries for somebody else.
Well, and you know, in the couples that we work with, this is, and even in my own personal life, right years ago, even in the throws of me struggling with this personally bringing my own needs and the protection of me and my kids and the love of, of my person, you know, my husband at the time the littlest amount, like the drop of hope that I would cling to that this is all gonna be okay. And that we're gonna be able to turn this around, just tell me what I need to hear almost became the coping mechanism that was dysfunctional for me, like, right. I mean, so that's the tough part where you give me a little teeny tiny drop of hope that you're seeing the problem that you're wanting to turn this around, that we're gonna be okay. And that you're gonna work on this, even if it was just a fleeting five minutes, gives me hope for the next month. Right now. Remember what you said? Yeah. I remember what I said. And the hardest part is to put yourself in a place where, as you said, this does not work for me. I'm unwilling to do this anymore. And I know that we're risking our relationship here, but I know that I need to do this for myself. And hopefully, it will be the catalyst or the wake-up call for you to say, oh, she's serious this time. Like, if I was gonna change this around and really dig deep and maybe find the desire to get help, this would be that moment. And when I act on what it is I said, right, and they don't talk me out of it or, or kind of bend it a little bit or caused me to think I'm crazy. And I'm, I'm a monster. And all of those other places that we know they're gonna go in their own desperate need to, to justify what it is they continue to wanna do, because it's scary for them too, to turn and face what it is they're dealing with emotionally. It really is the most loving thing that we can do loving for yourself, loving for, you know, maybe the family that's at large, in love for them, because you're not allowing them to continue this co-dependency or this enabling. And as long as we're doing that, I think sometimes we don't think about it, we're not helping them get better. We're helping them continue the course.
Right. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's sort of the clearest cut and common example of real altruism that I can actually imagine, you know, doing something with the absence of self, even if it's going to hurt, it's not easy to set boundaries on people that you love. Because that pain is because you love them and you don't wanna see them on the path that they're on. And, and I love what you described as sort of using those moments where they validate. I like to think of it as, you know, instead of just agreeing with me or placating me, just tell me, I'm not crazy, please. I need to hear it. It's like a hit, I'm starting to lose my mind here. Like, I can't be the only person that sees this as a problem. Just tell me that I'm not crazy, please. And that'll be enough for now. And what is a scary, scary place to be in a relationship where you're supposed to be safe?
Yeah. So Nick, so on that, so, you know, where you sit on the aisle, you know, just expanding further on what we've just described, what would be helpful for you as the addict to hear from your partner, instead of, you know, you doing it just for them, you know, for your partner. So you can go back and, you know, what would be some actual phraseology, some specific words in the sequence of them. That would be what you need to hear that would potentially move you.
Sure. You know, I think anytime anybody's ever had success, sort of getting through to me in active addiction, it was always like, I'll never forget. I was 17. And I remember my mom kicked me out. And again,, it had been her and me, since I was eight. So that's a that was a codependent relationship in and of itself because it was her and I against the world. And I could really do no wrong. And she was always gonna have my back. And she would always pick me up from county jail or whatever it was. And she just said, I am not going to come home and find you dead. I need you outta my house by the end of the day. That had nothing to do with me. She said I am not going to do that. I'm not gonna find my kid dead. That's not an experience that I am willing to have. you gotta go. And there wasn't any negotiation there wasn't oh, don't worry, mom. I won't. Yeah, I just went. Okay. because the gravity of that was not only so real, but she didn't, she didn't criticize me at all. She didn't criticize my behavior. She didn't take my inventory. She didn't give any task or direction. Other than she set a very firm boundary that she was not going to do something. And I didn't have much say in the matter, and that got through to me in such a real way, because it was it's, it's the best example of an eye statement that I can think of. Right. I had nothing to do with me. Right? I'm not doing this. I'm not gonna be married to somebody who drinks every single night. I don't deserve that. It's not what I'm gonna do. So balls in your court, I'm not asking, I'm not telling you what to do. I'm not asking you what to do. This is about me. I'm having a conversation about myself. You're irrelevant. And if you do that, at least in my experience, it's really hard to argue. We want to naturally we wanna argue. Cause that's what we do. When you tell me I drink too much. Oh, come on. I used to drink whiskey. Now I only drink beer, relax, and get off my case. Why are you always like this, right? But when somebody gives you a true real I statement boundary, well, all right. Give me 10 minutes to regroup and think about how I can respond.
Well, and sometimes, you know, I love what you said. I call it planting our flag where that I statement is, I am not willing to do this. This is not working for me. This is what I need to have to happen. Right? Those I statements of planting our flag, they may be attacked. You may, I call it planes, trains, and automobiles, where they're coming at you from every angle potentially possible that they could pull out to create doubt in your decision. Doubt about what you just said, doubt about why you're crazy doubt about, you know, how this whole thing is gonna play out. And you've just lost your mind and why you being such a jerk, you know, all of those wonderful things that you and I have both heard many, many times. And, and I always say, just cling to that flag. It's a broken record statement. You come back and you just keep restarting it. And then you act on it right now. I'm not coming home to you being dead. I'm not doing this anymore. I'm not tolerating this anymore. And, and I'm done, I'm done with this and it's okay if you continue, I, God love you. I, I'm just choosing not to. And they continue to do that broken record statement. There's they? You're right. There's nothing that they can do at this point in time to Gaslight you manipulate you because that all comes from a place of trying to instill doubt inside of you. And the minute they can instill doubt or second-guessing within you, they have you, you're in for another round, right. You're in for another dance. So that's why those I statements are so critically important in situations.
Well, and I really appreciate your, your incredible honesty, Nick, you know, that, you know, you're, you know, using humans strictly for your own benefits. I mean that like, you have to understand as the receiver of that. Like, you know, I mean, again, thank you for your incredible honesty. Like you're, you know, an addict's going to do what they need to do right. To, to hit that dopamine hit. And if they need to use you as you, so, you know, honestly share they're you're going to, they're gonna do it. Right. I mean, so keeping that I statement like your mom said, see, that's the thing too. We teach that in our like, keep it on the eye. And once we put the finger towards someone else that just opens up the whole can of worms, that you're never gonna win that one.
Yeah. Right. Yeah. This is an incredibly invasive thought pattern. Right. You know, again, it wasn't until years and years of work and, and abstinence from all substances full sobriety, that I was really able to understand the intricacies, of this addiction that I struggle with and how it affects me interpersonally in my relationships. And those make for some uncomfortable Eureka moments. You're like, oh, oh, I'm the problem. You know, it's a really rough day. But you know, there's something beautiful about laying flat on your back. I think you got nowhere to go but up.
Oh, I love that. I, and you know, I, I do a lot of work around the idea of manipulation and boil it down into, you know, really I can only be manipulated, did it if I, if I doubt myself, right. I doubt who I am and I, I doubt what it's okay for me to do. And that doubt is what leads to me, basically taking that flag and saying, I don't know what to do with this thing. You tell me who I need to be and how I need to show up for you and how this is gonna go. And then I'll be that for you, and that's always the road to a lot of dysfunction and breakdown because I have lost my sense of self. And yet that's what we teach when it comes to relationships and marriage. Right. It's kind of like we step to the altar and go, okay, here's the deal. I'm gonna sacrifice everything I am to please you. And you're gonna do the same thing for me. Right. And I think that's what makes that line so difficult. Cause I'm supposed to support you, be there for you, especially in times of struggle or, or shall we say challenge or dysfunction. And we know that we all have those places when that is inside of us as a human being. And so knowing when to plant that flag and when to not plant that flag and just be there to comfort you from my empathetic place is a very difficult thing for me to wrap my head around. Right. and it's difficult for those who are just wanting to cope and be left alone and do that thing I know that's just gonna make me feel better at this moment. Right. It's difficult for us to not turn my partner into a villain so that I can just continue to do that in just, that behavior. Right? and that, I think that's what makes it so subtle is because of some of the ideas that we have around love and relationships and how this is supposed to play out back to expectations again. Right. So for true recovery to happen, give, give us some, some takeaways here. I can't believe we have to land this episode already, cuz there's so much more I wanna talk about.
We'll have to ask you back, Nick.
But what are, some signs of addiction that maybe I need to be concerned about? Let's normalize that if we can and then what are some, some things that need to happen for recovery and, and what's the normalized road for that? Like probably relapse is gonna be part of the deal. For example, getting the support and the team around you is probably another one. But I would love to hear you share from your experience and expertise, a what are some signs of addiction and then what is a road to rehabilitation, true sobriety, and where everybody kind of has that story that we're all hoping for, which is, you know, we win, we put this together. We, we go on and we create some of those things that we've always dreamed of doing in our lives.
Sure. you know, I think one of the most kind of consistent telltale, examples of addiction manifesting for somebody in becoming a big problem is again, the isolation that will happen. The isolation and the infinite uniqueness. It's a, it's a really common sort of psychological defense mechanism that we implement to protect our behavior. So if you're a loved one or if you're struggling yourself, do you think that you're special? Do you think that you're alone? And it's a tough question to ask people because I've had to ask people like, Hey, do you think that you're worse than me when you like when you really lay it out, do you honestly believe that you and I are that different that you have come up with some bright idea that never heard to me when I had a needle in my neck, I promise you that you, that you haven't it's but the, the further we isolate and the more infinitely unique we become in our own minds, that is a really telltale example of your brain, trying to protect addictive behavior because you're doing something that logically you and understand is not good for you. You also understand that everybody around you is gonna recognize that it's not good for you. So I need to start setting up, stopgaps now to protect myself. Oh yeah. But I had the surgery and I just have had bad luck. And I got this crazy girlfriend and my boss sucks and I gotta get up all the time. I really deserve to do what I'm doing. And if you don't co-sign that, well, then we're gonna talk anymore. now you can't accept me for the way that I am. You're judging me. You don't get to judge me. You're outta my life. I'm getting toxicity outta my life. This is the year of me, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And before you know, it, that person is the most important person in the universe in their own mind. And they're completely alone. You're stripped of all extra validators because I'll convince myself that my spouse is my partner or my spouse is my problem. I'll get rid of that. Then I'll convince myself that my boss is my problem. Now I don't have a boss anymore. I don't have a job either, but I don't have a boss. And you, we will slowly break these things away. We push away the people that are closest to us. We isolate further and further. And then again, we have these moments of clarity where we realize I gotta do something about this because I am the common denominator in every problem in my life. Unfortunately, a lot of people can't or won't really go through any process of change until they hit that point of just being strict emotionally, you are bankrupt. That's what we call it. This is emotional bankruptcy. You can't make excuses for yourself anymore. You've hit a wall. However, what varies from person to person is the sheer amount of wreckage that is caused from the start of the behavior to that moment of clarity and that emotional bankruptcy. We do some wild stuff. We hurt a lot of people throughout that process in the name of self-preservation. And that's why when you get into recovery, one of the first things we do, if you're working steps, for example, is you make amends you gotta clean up that wreckage. And then you gotta change the behavior
And just, to put this out there, have you seen anybody be successful at true recovery without the support of people around them? Right? Like a, a, a facility like yourself and, or, you know, the most loving spouse or partner in the world or their parents?
All the different resources.
Right. You know, we've always called that kind of, I've seen people string together sobriety just by, well, you know, I'm not gonna do this anymore. It causes problems. We call that white-knuckle sobriety. So now you are an unmedicated patient, meaning you were medicating your problems and now you just have the problems, and what a horrible place to be. treatment and support is so wildly critical to learn how to feel comfortable and actually do the work to address why you wanted to drink or use in the first place. What led you to this point, is that unique clinical intervention you need proper help and support and be that 12 steps treatment centers, et cetera, like mine. In some instances, people were absolutely necessary because I do a medically managed detox. Some people their lives could be at risk if they stop using their substance, their physical dependency is so I, we gotta help. 'em Sure. but no, I guess the short answer is you can't do it alone if you're the problem.
Isn't that so great? I mean, great. In a sense there are so many people that are standing by the wayside to help and support couples and human beings in this place, as people such as yourself, your, your center, you know, and it does take a team and it's okay to raise your hand and say, you know, we do this physically when I injure myself or I don't know what to do, why can't we do emotionally and say, Hey, I need help. I need support. I can't do this on my own. Right. I, I don't know the way through and let professionals such as yourself and the work that we do gather around you and help you through this. I think that's so important to realize there's no shame in that actually that's the way through. And that what prevents us from being able to find those answers and to turn things around is we're trying to attempt to solve it from the same place and the same tools and the same ideas and the same behaviors that are creating more and more and more of the problem. we can't see our way through it. Right.
So Nick, as we land this again, thank you so much. We'll have you back, please share with us, you know, the best places for people to reach out to you. Should they wanna, you know, further the conversation.
Oh, sure. You know, you can go to our website, www.stillwatertreatment.com. We have an 800 number on there that will connect you with a live counselor. And we'll talk to you if you're struggling, reach out it doesn't, you know, whether you wanna come into treatment or you need resources local to pick up the phone, it's literally the hardest part. That's the hardest part, reach out, tell another human being what's going on. It's all downhill from there.
Well, thank you. And I would just stack on, you know, on what Nick has shared is, you know, getting a mediator that was that's one of the most profound things and the power of a mediator is he, or she will establish safety, right. And put around a situation. And this I'm gonna brag on my wife. This is what she is very, very good with. She, I mean, divorce mediation when I share with people that's what Staci does, they look like oh my gosh, how do you do that? It's the ability to create safety, and bring people in situations together. Oftentimes they had never been able to do that. So reach out to Nick, reach out to us, work in tandem. We do this a lot with professionals in our community. Thank you again, Nick so much for this incredibly important conversation.
So great to be here with you. And we'll have you back. I'd love to continue our conversation sometime. Take a quick break and let you breathe and what we've just talked about, and we're gonna come back and believe it or not. I just wanna show you as a human being. You have the ability to shift gears. We're gonna have a little bit of fun. You're like fun? Yeah. After that conversation, it's, it's possible. It absolutely is possible. We'll be right back.
Hey babe, did you know that the average couple spends only two hours a day with each other? And the majority of that time is spent eating, watching TV, and surfing social media rather than connecting with each other. And if children are involved, my gosh, it's even less time than that.
I know, babe. That's why you created our conversation cards for connection, cuz they're the perfect conversation starter. So the next time you're sitting on the couch, rather than turning on the TV or grabbing your phone, pull out a card and get ready for some good old-fashioned laughter and love and connection.
You can get your cards at Stacibartley.com.
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Welcome back inside the Love Shack. Tom and Staci Bartley here with you. We're gonna step right in to follow the fun. And this is hot off the press. If you're listening live Staci's book, currently only as an ebook, as a kindle book, but soon to be in a printed book. And the first Thursday of every month, we have a giveaway. Yeah, works. And that's this, this Thursday right now, if you're listening.
so what I'm gonna give you today is an opportunity to win two free copies of an autographed hard copy of our book.
Softcover, hardcover, paper.
A physical. Something you hold in your hands.
Yeah. What we need from you is we need you to roll the dice and tell us a number between one and a hundred for people who are on our fun list. Go ahead and tell us who the winner is. I gotta put my glasses on so that I can see.
Did you say one through one hundred? Okay. I'm gonna have to roll the dice in my mind, cuz I don't have the physical dice that go up to a hundred, but let's go with 42.
Oh, nice. Just so you know, people, Eric usually chooses a smaller number. So we're gonna go with oh Valdo at happy couples.
And why are we giving two books Mrs. Bartley away?
Because I want one for you and one that you can give away to a friend. Again, they're gonna be autographed copies.
And they're not available yet. They'll be available by the end of this month. So reach out to us. We'll reach out to you, reach out to us with the physical address and we will make sure you get not one but two signed copies of Staci's new book, which is available on Amazon right now as an ebook. And what's the name of your book, Mrs. Bartley?
It is feeling like your marriage is dead. A divorce media guide to ensuring a lifetime of love. It's gotten great reviews. I'm so grateful. I'm so honored. This is also a bit of my own story. So if you haven't gotten your copy already, you can get it for 99 cents for a few more days before the price goes up. So go check it out.
In all fairness, it's only gonna be maybe $3 so it can change your life between that and the incredible resources that Staci has put together along with our incredible daughter, Brooke, who last weeks show, if you weren't didn't watch it, haven't checked it out. Check it out. Cuz we came live from Virginia. Now we gotta step into what are we feeling as we land this episode?
Well, I want to talk about the fun list for a minute before you kind of like push us.
Sorry. I'm Radar. Sorry. I'm just watching a clock here. This is live and this is real. Remember the remember like, is it Memorex? Remember? Okay. Sorry.
You're probably dating yourself.
I know I I'm an old fart, but, I'm kinda, I'm kind of happy old fart.
Yeah, you are. The Fun list is a great time for us as well. Every week you're gonna get fun ideas and we don't just do, do you have a way, but we do fun ideas for those of you who are new to the show each and every week because play and novelties absolutely gotta be something that we instill in our lives and in our relationships that kind of keeps the passion going and keeps the fun and delight going.
Of, which one of those is music. A very, very nice segue. If I may say so every week, Staci and I pick a song many times it's Staci, cuz why? Because music moves us emotionally. It incredible. What are we feeling? We, so, we have a song for every single episode. You can find that on our playlist, on our website. what are we feeling this week?
Well, today we have Adele and, oh gosh, I chose this song because she says go easy on me. Right? It challenges our relationships, especially when it comes to addictions and mental health is really difficult for us. And we all need a little bit easy, right? Instead of banging on them to just stop or, or beating yourself up because of what you're doing to cope, you know, maybe we should start exploring what it is. That's emotionally driving that. And I think Adele a song easy on me expresses that incredibly well. So check it out. Enjoy it. Gosh, thank you so much for being here for another episode of Love Shack live, and a special thank you to Nick Mathews for being here as our guest today and you as our listeners, it's so wonderful to see more couples and families embracing our show. Thank you so much to those of you who are so spreading it around and those who you who have been inspired by this conversation and know somebody in your life that could really benefit from this conversation. Please help us spread the love around a little bit.
Absolutely. And thanks so much to Eric Reider, our engineer and the KKNW team. And we will be here. Same time, same place next week. And if you need some support, please reach out to us. Don't wait everyone, wait. It's too long. It's the only thing I know in doing this work. Don't wait, reach out to us. We'd be honored to be, be of service to you.
Okay. We look forward to seeing you back here next week inside the Love Shack. Bye. See you soon for now.
Thanks for joining us today in the Love Shack, we hope you came away with something that made your toes tingle. To learn more about everything you heard on today's show, go to Stacibartley.com/podcast. Love the show. Help us spread the love by sharing the show with others. Okay, everybody time to go. We gotta close the doors to the Love Shack for this week. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here. Come back next week though and join us for another edition of Love Shack live with Tom and Staci Bartley.
Addiction is a tough topic to talk about, but it's important that we do.
The statistics are alarming - Almost 21 million Americans have at least 1 addiction, yet only 10% of them receive treatment. This means you'll most likely encounter someone with addiction in your life, and it's very possible it will affect your marriage, relationship, or family.
In this week's episode, we'll be discussing how addiction may harm even the closest relationships, as well as how to avoid it. If you're struggling to support a loved one with addiction, this episode is for you.
We have Nicholas Mathews as a guest this week. Nicholas is a substance abuse expert and addiction expert who dedicates his life to helping others get to the root of their addiction. Nicholas will be sharing some strategies for supporting a friend or loved one struggling with substance abuse.
After listening to this episode, you will understand the impact addiction can have on even the most "meant to be" relationships. You will also have actionable strategies for supporting a friend or loved one struggling with substance abuse.
Nicholas Mathews is a founder of Stillwater Behavioral Health, a Dual Diagnosis treatment facility that personalizes care to help those struggling to recover from substance addiction and mental health disorders. Nicholas abused opioids at a young age before becoming a heroin addict at age 16. It was only when he developed a life-threatening liver condition that he realized he needed to get clean.
After succeeding, he dedicated his life to guiding others into sobriety, becoming a consultant for various treatment facilities. This work made him determined to fix deficiencies in clinical care and boost the overall effectiveness of treatment programs. That’s when Stillwater was born. He intends to grow the facility to help even more people regardless of their socioeconomic background. He currently studies at Harvard Business School online.
In this episode, we're covering several key topics about how to love and support someone with an addiction, including:
- What signs indicate that someone might have a substance abuse problem?
- How do you properly support recovered/recovering addicts and avoid patronizing them in social contexts?
- What is the first thing you should say to someone who might need help?
- Learn about the root causes of addiction and how to address them
Listen in live Thursday at 1 pm PST/4 pm EST -- and don't forget to subscribe so you never miss an episode!
Links mentioned in show:
- Learn more about Nicholas and his work here.
- Get your copy of the book now!
- How To Stop A Fight In 20-Seconds Or Less. Get Your Free Cheat Sheet Here.
- Relationship Check-up - tired of re-hashing your issues with your partner without making progress? Schedule your check-up today!
- Get on the fun list here.
- Check out our Love Shack Live Playlist for all the songs we play on the show.