Watching a loved one continue to harm themselves with their addictive behaviour is heart-breaking and frustrating, especially when you know that there is nothing that can be done to prevent it unless the individual wants to get help. In many cases, an addiction intervention is the only way to get a loved one to accept that he or she needs help for their illness.
It is often said that addicts will only accept help upon reaching their rock bottom, but rock bottom is not the same for everyone. It is actually the point where the addict can see the harm that his/her behaviour is causing to their lives and the lives of those around them. They may reach this point after an addiction intervention, or it may be when faced with an ultimatum from family members or a medical professional.
Do Ultimatums Work for Addicts?
The problem with issuing an ultimatum to an addicted loved one is that you must be prepared to follow through. Telling someone you love that if they do not stop drinking alcohol or taking drugs you will throw them out of the house or cut all ties with them is a good way to encourage them into treatment. However, if they know you are bluffing, it will never work.
In an upcoming episode of reality series My 600lb Life, a father decides to take his two morbidly obese sons to visit a weight loss surgeon. Both men have developed food addictions, with Steven Assanti tipping the scales at 734lb and his brother Justin weighing in at 604lb.
Knowing that their compulsion to eat was killing them, their father Steven Sr took the decision to drive them across the country in an RV. However, Steven’s bad behaviour led him to be kicked out of the hospital, and he was then admitted to a rehab facility for drug addiction.
Does a Difficult Childhood Lead to Addiction?
Both Steven and Justin share a crippling food addiction and admit that they had a difficult childhood. Their mother was an alcoholic, and when she split from their father, she neglected the children. Steven said, “My childhood wasn’t good, to say the least. My mom was an alcoholic, and my parents’ relationship was pretty rocky. So, me and my brother Justin put up with a lot of abuse because of that. It was arguments all the time, and fighting.”
When their parents’ marriage ended, their mother would leave food out for the boys, who were aged eleven and five at the time, while she would go out clubbing and drinking all night. Justin said that Steven was ‘greedy’ where food was concerned and said, “Anytime there was food around, before I could eat it, he already gobbled it down.”
Both boys continued comfort eating as they got older, and when their mother began dating a violent boyfriend, their problems worsened. They had been deeply affected by their troubled childhood and had learned to use different methods to get what they wanted from their parents. Justin admits he would ‘shut down and refuse to cooperate’ until he got what he wanted. This led him to grow up being untrusting of others and feeling lonely. Steven was the opposite and would lash out until his demands were met. He still does this as an adult.
On the journey to the weight loss surgeon, Steven’s demands for food are seen as he constantly calls his father while lying in the back of the RV. He is seen saying, “I’m feeling very weak, and if something happens to me, you’re going to be very sorry.”
He then tells the camera, “I don’t feel entitled, but I want what I want, and when I don’t get it, I get p****d off. And I start ranting and raving until I do get what I want. I just want what I want, that’s it.”
As has happened throughout his teen and adult years, Stevens demands were met by his father as he stopped to get the food that Steven said he desperately needed. Nevertheless, despite seeming to enable his son, Steven Sr appeared frustrated and said he was fed up with constant food stops. He said, “We have been travelling about 38 hours right now, and then every 100 miles we had to stop cause who wanted to eat? You know, I understand that, but not every 100 miles. It’s ridiculous; 100 miles only takes two hours to do.”
After arriving at the weight loss hospital, both men were assessed, and Steven was placed on a strict calorie-controlled diet to get his weight down. Justin was cleared for surgery but after throwing a tantrum left the hospital.
Meanwhile, Steven’s bad behaviour with hospital staff led to him being suspended from the programme. He begged for help and said he needed pain medication. When the doctor refused, he claimed he needed help to wean himself off the pills and checked into a drug rehab centre.
It is clear that both men have struggled as a result of their difficult childhood and that help is desperately needed for food and drug addictions.
If Steven and Justin’s story is something you can relate to, call us here at Liberty House Clinic. Maybe you can relate to Steven Sr and need help in terms of arranging an addiction intervention for a loved one who is unable to help themselves. If this is the case, call us today for advice and information on how we can assist.