Episode 29: Loving an Addict
In this episode, you will learn:
Candace’s incredible journey with addiction and how she recovered
How Candace works differently than other addiction counselors in the space
Why boundaries are a critical part of loving someone
Why the person loving the addict will be the one to help the addict start to heal
Episode 29: Loving an Addict
Katie Wrigley 0:07
This is the pain changer podcast episode 29. This week we are kicking off mental health awareness month with Candace Plattor and we are talking about addiction. I am so excited to have this guest on my show today. I actually took one of Candace’s courses myself back when I was disabled, and I got so much out of it. I am so thrilled that she is here to join us today. And that is coming up next. Thank you so much for joining me today, Candace, and welcome to the pain changer podcast. Would you be willing to share some of your background with the listeners?
Candace Plattor 0:47
Yeah, just thinking, wow, that’s such a nice thing for you to say, I’m really glad that you got a lot from our program. Hi, everyone. Yes, I am an addictions therapist, and I work primarily with the loved ones of people who are struggling with addiction. You know, there’s a lot of help out there for people with addiction. And I just to let you know, I use the word addict. And sometimes people think that that’s disrespectful. It’s a label. And, you know, that’s how people feel. I just want to say that for myself, when I discovered that I was an addict, it was the most important discovery, I think, that I’ve ever made in my life. And I was able to know, I was able to see what was going on. For me, first of all, I had no idea. I knew something was very wrong with the picture of my life, but I didn’t know what it was. And when I heard the word addict, it made so much sense to me. And I’m now 35 years clean and sober. I just celebrated that a little while ago. And so when I use the word addict, it’s not in a disrespectful way. So I hope that people can understand that. But you know, there’s a lot of a lot of help for addicts of any kind, really, but there’s hardly anything out there for the people who love them. And they’re, you know, it’s like, they’re riding on the same roller coaster car, as the addict. And so when the addict is doing okay, you know, then the loved one is doing okay. And when the addict isn’t doing so well, the loved one isn’t doing so good either. And that is the kind of thing I work with people around. Because if that continues, then the addicts generally stay stuck in addiction. So we need to really be working more and more with families, we need to help them understand what they can do, what they can do to really help. And so that’s what I do. And I’m in Vancouver, Canada, which I think is the most beautiful place in the world. I’m sure other people think that where they live is a great place too but I just love that career. So I’m in private practice. It’s my business, called love with boundaries. Because especially when we’re dealing with addicts, we need to love with boundaries. And so we’re global, we have clients all over the world, I just stop. I just signed somebody on from the ollie. So we’re kind of all over the world. We’re in Australia or New Zealand or in England, or, you know, as long as you can speak English, we can work with you anywhere in the world, any time zone, we’ll just figure it out.
Katie Wrigley 3:55
Awesome. Great. And I’m gonna make sure that we have that information captured towards the end of the show. That’ll probably be one of the last things that we cover so that’s the freshest in people’s minds. And we will add that into the show notes too. So people can benefit from the program just like I can. And in the interest of full transparency. I just want, Candace has no idea that I’m actually going to say this. I got so much out of her program that I didn’t actually complete it. I think I got about a third of the way through and it gave me so much, she’s that good. I can’t wait to start this conversation. But I absolutely, highly recommend that you check her stuff out.
Candace Plattor 4:32
Thank you so much. That’s fine with me if you don’t need to do all of it. Whatever it takes to be able to make the changes in your life. So are you asking me about my story and how I got started in this?
Katie Wrigley 4:49
Yes, absolutely. Yes, I would love to hear. So it sounds like you were an addict yourself. And I thank you for that disclaimer about what you mean. It’s simply a way that you were able to attach more emotionally, more deeply to what was going on with you. So you were able to shift it. I believe that’s what I was hearing there and why you use the term?
Candace Plattor 5:13
Yeah. I think if there’s anybody that’s listening, who doesn’t like the word addict, we can certainly find another word to use. So that’s fine, too. So, you know, the pertinent, relevant part of my story starts when I was in my early 20s, which was a long time ago. And I was having lunch with a friend. And shortly after that, I became very, very ill, very ill. And we thought that I had food poisoning. It was those kinds of symptoms that were going on. But I never got better for a very long time. And I went to doctor after doctor and they were telling me it was in my head, you can probably relate to some of this, they were telling me that I was just imagining it, come on, get a grip, right. Eventually, probably about a year later, I was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, which most people know what it is now. But it’s an inflammatory bowel disease that’s very difficult to deal with. It’s painful, it’s embarrassing. It’s just very difficult to deal with. And they gave me the wrong medication, they thought I had colitis, and they gave me the wrong medication for about a year, which was not helpful at all. And I’ve been extremely sick. In my early adult years, I’ve had three different major surgeries, like bowel resections, where they slice and dice and take pieces out. And that’s the kind of thing that you have to heal from that. And it just, you know, has not been a picnic. But what happened to me was the doctors at that point, you know, addiction wasn’t on the radar then, especially, but not the way it is now for sure. And what the doctors did was they saw this young woman in their office who was crying and in pain and you know, my life was just falling apart. So they just gave me medication, lots of it, all kinds of it. And later, I found out how addictive those medications are and the human system. So they were giving me Valium. So benzodiazepines, they were giving me opioids, codeine, Demerol, morphine, Oxycontin. I was smoking pot because it helped and I liked the feeling. You know, when I was using, I loved the feeling of being high, it took away all my stress, took away all the shame that went with having a disease like this. And I just kept taking it. I just kept using pot, I kept using all these opioids that they were giving me. And if you fast forward about 15 years I had been basically an opioid addict for 15 years without knowing it. Without realizing what was happening to me. And the thing to understand about all of these substances, the ones that they were giving me, and pot as well, is that they’re depressants in the human system. They’re not like cocaine. That makes you high, high. You know, they’re depressants. Alcohol is another depressant. So by the end of 15 years of this, I became so depressed that I was suicidal. I really didn’t know if I wanted to live anymore. I really had to do some soul searching about that. And one day, I started to think about all the pills that I had and how I could take them at a certain time and nobody would find me in time, I could just ask myself, and I started getting a little scared. You know, because I had the opportunity, I had the means. I certainly had the depression, you know. So I remember coming home from work one day early, having had this revelation that I could actually do this. And what I did instead was I picked up the phone. And I called the Vancouver crisis center. And somebody at the end of that line, I don’t even know if it was male or female, I don’t remember. Whoever it was pretty much saved my life because they respected me. They listened to me. They validated the emotional, physical, spiritual psychic pain that I was in. And they guided me to the next step. So I ended up going to a suicide prevention counseling place, I think the next day, not even sure how I got myself there. But I did. And I guess I wanted to live. The psychiatrists that I saw there, strongly suggested that I signed myself into a psych ward. So I did, and I was in the Vancouver General Hospital sideboard for about four weeks. And it was really okay, because I wasn’t sure you know, if I had my clothes, and if I had my keys to my car, and if I could live the life I was living, I wasn’t sure I’d stay alive. So it’s okay for me to be there. It was safe, I was safe, and I didn’t have to cook my meals. And I didn’t have to look after myself. And it was also, it looked at that point, it’s different now, but it looked like Cuckoo’s Nest, you know, with the gray slabs, cement walls. That’s what it looked like at the time. It was not a comfortable place to be. And while I was there, I met some people who, a couple of people, who were trying to get off drugs and alcohol, and they were going to 12 step meetings across the street and a nurse’s residence every day. So I started going with them. And that was another point of my recovery that really changed my life. I don’t go to those meetings anymore. And maybe at some point, we can talk about that. But, you know, for the first 10 years or so of my recovery, I was going to meetings, sometimes two or three times a day when I needed to. So that was the beginning of my recovery. And I still had Crohn’s, and I was looking at not using the kinds of medications that I had been using, so that I could stay clean and sober. Right? And when you have an illness like that, it’s like thank God for those drugs when you really need them. And then there’s a difference between use and abuse. So I stopped abusing them. And when I needed to take something for pain, I would always let somebody know. So I was really accountable with that. And that worked for, you know, a while. When I was eight months clean, I had to have my last surgery. I’m so grateful it was my last surgery. So that was you know, 35 years, 34 years ago. And they had to take another chunk out, I was still so sick. I told the doctors and the nurses that I was an addict. They, I thought, put it in their chart. I really, really wanted to take my one year cake. I had worked hard in my recovery. I was looking at my one year cake. It was only a few months away, you know? So I went in for the surgery. And I wake up on a morphine drip that I could control with my thumb. And I loved it. And I knew the pain that’s involved in that kind of surgery because I’d been there before. And it was like pain, what pain? Who cares if I’m in pain, you know, and so I knew I had a decision to make. And you know, it was the same kind of decision of do I live or do I die? Do I stay or do I go? Yeah, I knew that I couldn’t stay on the stuff for very long. So I made a decision. I made a decision that this is important. I made a decision. I made a choice that I was going to use that. I was going to stay on that trip for two days. And then I was going to get rid of it. And I was going to find another way to deal with the pain and recover from the surgery. So, two days later, I told the nurse, take it away, do not bring it back. And I started taking extra strength Tylenol, they started bringing me ice packs to put on the big, thick, heavy scar on my belly, you know, the pain started to go away like on its own, and it started to heal. And I took my one year cake, I discovered that I could make a choice about whether I was gonna stay addicted or not. And that was a very important time in my life for me. It was not fun. I did not like being in that position. But what I learned from that experience was something I could have never learned in school or from a book.
Katie Wrigley 15:52
No, no, no one’s gonna teach you that. And thank you so much for your vulnerability and sharing your story. There’s there’s so much in there that brought up compassion for me and so much more respect for you than I had before we even started this episode, the strength to not only, the first really strong sign of strength that you communicated, I just heard was when you call that crisis center, and you chose to live, despite being able to map out your death and ending your life. And the gaslighting that you’re talking about from the medical community is unfortunately so common that I’ve gone out of my way to have guests on there that listen to people that hear people that treat someone as one whole person, not mental health over here, physical health over here, dental health over here, this health there.
Candace Platton 16:40
Or “You’re an addict and we’re not going to listen to you because you’re doing anything like that”
Katie Wrigley 16:48 Right! “You must be lying about your pain because you’re an addict.” And unfortunately, with pill seekers, sometimes there’s an element of truth to that, but not really. They are in pain when they’re seeking it. They’re just coming at you in a violent, really off putting manner when someone is really jonesing for their pills, but it’s coming from a place of pain and that person is begging to be heard. So I have a question, how are the opiates affecting the Crohn’s because I know those wreak havoc on my digestive system. So I can’t even imagine if you have irritable bowel disease like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, what are those opiates actually doing to you on top of the addictive nature of them?
Candace Plattor 17:35
Yeah, it’s an interesting thing with Crohn’s and maybe colitis and illnesses like that, it can be very different for different people. But there’s no cookie cutter, kind of “You have Crohn’s, this is what you’re going to experience”, because some people can eat very different foods than I can and have Crohn’s and vice versa. So what I recall from the opioids, you know, my diarrhea, see, this is the problem with those kinds of illnesses. People don’t want to talk about diarrhea, they don’t want to talk about throwing up, they don’t want to talk about constipation. That’s where the shame of this disease comes in. It’s, I like to call it shit shame now.
Katie Wrigley 18:22
Yeah we talk about all that on this show.
Candace Plattor 18:25
I talk about it all of it too, I do, because we all do it.
Katie Wrigley 18:27
Right. It dissolves the shame when we talk about it. Everybody poops, there’s a book about it!
Candace Plattor 18:34
Everybody poops. So true. And some of us poop more than other people, poop. And so what the opioids did for me, they were very constipating for me, so in a way, that was lovely. Except if I abused it too much, then the constipation would kick in and that’s not very comfortable either. Anybody who has constipation knows that. So I would go from one end of the extreme to the other. I was dichotomy all the time with the opioids and it just became a balancing act for me. But really, I didn’t give it that much thought, I don’t think, I just wanted to be high. I just wanted to escape and those drugs were very good at doing that.
Katie Wrigley 19:27
Yeah, yeah, I used to be an addict myself and then your program, I think, loving an addict or loving addict, I was leaving an opiate addict when I did your program but in my own addicted days, I liked the cocaine the upper and then I liked the alcohol the downer, and I loved opiates and I used to call Percocet my fuck it all pill because I would take and I did not care about anything or anyone. Not at all. Not even a little bit. It just disconnects you. I’m very spiritual and I feel like I get disconnected from Source and I haven’t taken opiates in years now because I don’t need to anymore. I don’t know that I ever actually needed to but I thought I needed to. But they are incredibly powerful. And it does alter your brain the same way that pain does. The same way that addiction does. These all physically change your brain.
Candace Plattor 20:30
It changes your brain, it alters your organs, just how your body works. Yeah, I mean, again, you know, there’s a, there’s a line between use and abuse. I’m glad this medication exists for the people who really need it, but we need to use it carefully and sparingly. Because it’s so addictive. It’s incredibly addictive, all of these drugs that I was on, the valley of drugs, the opiates, the pot, pot is addictive. For anybody who doesn’t believe that I’m living proof of the fact that pot is addictive. It gets into your fat cells, and it stays there for a long time. Yeah, I remember being in really early recovery and walking down the street with a friend that I had met in twelve step programs. And I looked at her and I said, I feel like I’ve just smoked a joint, I feel high. And what I learned later was that I was losing weight at that time. I had been overweight, because I was using all these drugs and munching on chocolate and pizza and anything I could get. And I was losing weight. And as I lost weight, this stuff started to come out of my fat cells. So then I’m walking down the street feeling like I’m stoned. But it’s like using poison. It’s like putting poison in our bodies. So we want to, when we really need it, we want to be able to have it. And we want to be really careful with it. I hope everybody who you know, but there’s also the choice involved in this. Because, you know, just because you need painkillers sometimes, just because you love an addict who’s on opioids or something like that doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. And doesn’t mean that they can’t make choices about their lives and their recovery and their health. And I am living proof of that. So for me the choice model, which I’ve kind of developed over the years, you know, 12 Step programs are about the medical model, you have a disease, you’ll always have the disease, you’re powerless over it, you know, you’re going to relapse, because that’s what you do with that kind of disease. I haven’t relapsed in 35 years. I have a medical disease. And I know the difference between Crohn’s and addiction. So far, I have not been able to get rid of Crohn’s. It’s much much better. But I haven’t been able to get rid of it. I would love to get rid of it. You know. But with addiction, you can do exactly that. If you make the choice every day not to use. It’s very simple. It’s not easy. But it’s very simple. Yes, very doable.
Katie Wrigley 23:29
And I think your therapist I worked with actually helped me learn the distinction between easy and simple. It’s a simple concept, all you have to do is decide what makes it not an easy decision are the subconscious patterns that are feeding into the addiction. So that’s what makes it a harder one.
Candace Plattor 23:47
That and faulty core beliefs. All kinds of messy, emotional stuff that we can heal.
Katie Wrigley 24:05
Yes, yes, absolutely.
Candace Plattor 24:08
We can. You’re doing it, I’m doing it. Millions of people on this planet today know, if they’re in recovery of some sort, and they’re not using one day at a time. They know this is a choice they’re making. And that if they stop making this choice, they will go back to addiction. So there’s, you know, the talking about relapse and how you know addiction is prone to relapse is what I hear all the time addiction is prone to relapse. Well, it doesn’t have to be first of all. And secondly, there’s an acronym that people use, kind of willy nilly, “Oh, I slipped, I slipped. I had a slip. You know, oops, I used. I had a slip.” Slip is an acronym for “sobriety loses its priority”.
Katie Wrigley 25:06
Oooh I like that!
Candace Plattor 25:09
So when sobriety loses its priority and what we want, when our priority is that we want to get high. We’re going to slip.
Katie Wrigley 25:11
Candace Plattor 25:13
And most addicts who have been in addiction for a long time, like getting high, they want to get high, they crave getting high, they really miss it when they stop. I was one of those addicts.
Katie Wrigley 25:25
Mhmm, me too.
Candace Plattor 25:30
But there’s a way to develop our lives so that we don’t need addiction. Emotionally, spiritually, physically, self care, mentally. Self care is so important. And I really want you know, I want addicts, if any, if there are any addicts listening, if you’re having trouble with addiction, please know that there is help for you like real help to help you get past this, and a few of the loved one of somebody with addiction, please know that your addict is making the choice to stay in active addiction. They can make a different choice. But you’re gonna have to be part of that. Yes, you’ve likely been contributing in some way to them staying stuck in addiction. We’re not saying this to shame anyone. It’s not about shaming you. It’s that there needs their change. If you want your addict to change, then you’re probably going to have to be the one to change some things first. Because addicts don’t come to their loved ones and say, “Please set some healthy boundaries for me, I’d really like that.” No, addicts don’t want that.
Katie Wrigley 26:52
No, no, they want to, they want to keep having permission to use. And that’s what we do when we enable them. And we don’t even realize it. We do it from a place of love, because we don’t want them to hurt. But it turns into enablement, not empowerment. And what I’m hearing you say, and I love what you’re saying, because I hear at the core of it that you want people to be aware, it’s a choice. And then once you’re aware, there’s a choice. And this is what I’m really big on too, now you’re empowered to do something with it, you may keep the addiction in place but empower yourself with the awareness.
Candace Plattor 27:26
Own it! Own it, if you’re going to do that, but you know, what you said was we’re doing it from a place of love, we’re enabling our addicts from a place of love. Because when somebody says, “Hey, Mom, I need 20 bucks.” Even when you know where the 20 bucks is gonna go, like up the nose, down the throat in the arm. It still feels more loving. It feels more loving to say “Okay, honey, here’s 20 bucks” than it feels to say, “You know what, I really love you so much. And because I love you so much. I’m not gonna give you this $20. I love you so much that I don’t want you to be in a life of addiction. It tears me up. When I watch you do this. So it’s not good for me either. But I really don’t want you to be in addiction. So I’m not going to support you to be in addiction at all. And that’s because I love you not because I don’t. This is not a punishment. But I’m gonna say no to you”. And no, by the way is the word that addicts hate the most. So, you know, you might get some pushback. And I think we can help you along with boundaries, we can definitely help you deal with the pushback. But to be able to say to the addict, we love you so much that we’re not going to say yes to $20.
Katie Wrigley 28:56
Right. And what is normally the reaction from the addict, because it’s not like “Oh, you’re so right. Thank you for loving me.” So what is the tendency, the first time someone sets a boundary and says I love you so much. I am no longer going to enable your addiction.” How does the addict tend to respond in that moment?
Candace Plattor 29:13
You know, they basically don’t hear it the first time. Yeah, so don’t hear it at all. Because addicts want what they want when they want it. They want it right now. And they’re gonna step on anybody they have to to get it. Yes, I know. Cuz, you know, I’m an addict. I was in that life for a long time. And I know that, that you have those experiences too. So, you know, addicts don’t really care how much you love them. They just want the 20 bucks. So don’t do it to get wonderful feedback from your addict, do it because you know, it’s kinder, it’s more loving to say no to an addict and to do what it takes to keep them stuck.
Katie Wrigley 29:59
Yes and stay attached to that..
Candace Plattor 30:03
And the most important piece of it for a loved one, I think, is to… Okay, I’m gonna just backtrack because many of the people who love addicts, this may have been true for you. Are people pleasers, basically,
Katie Wrigley 30:21
I was, you’re correct.
Candace Plattor 30:24
And, you know, the other buzzword for that is codependent. And I really like simple definitions. So codependency basically means that we’re putting other people’s needs ahead of our own on a fairly consistent basis for putting our needs on the backburner. And that does not create what I like to call self respect. There’s a difference between self esteem and self respect. Self esteem, is when I say to you, “Oh, I really liked your shirt today, or your hair looks great, or you’re a great interviewer” or somebody says to me, “Oh, you’re such a great therapist”, or, you know, it comes from the outside, in self esteem. So you’re kind of dependent on other people to give that to you. Self respect is when you feel it yourself, you feel it inside. And so when somebody, I like to call it the cake, right? If you have the cake, then when somebody gives you, “I love your shirt”, you can own that you can take that you can say thank you and mean it. And that’s the icing and the sprinkles and the cherries on top of the cake that you’ve already baked inside yourself. If that makes sense.
Katie Wrigley 31:45
It makes so much sense. I love that analogy.
Candace Plattor 31:49
So self respect comes from the inside out. And when we have self respect, and we act like that in life, other people respect us. When we don’t have self respect and we’re not working on developing that, why should anybody else respect us? I lived that way for way too long. This is not negotiable for me anymore. No, I will never live without self respect. Whatever it takes, because it’s the most important thing we have, or don’t have. If you’re a loved one of somebody with addiction, you might want to think about developing your own self respect. And I talk about this in my book Loving An Addict, Loving Yourself. If you need help with it, reach out to us. So you know, you need to make some changes. If you love an addict and you’ve been enabling… Let me give you a simple definition for enabling. Because there’s a difference between enabling somebody and actually helping somebody. Okay, so enabling is when we do for somebody else, what they can and should be doing for themselves, okay. And especially if we’re doing that on an ongoing basis, so you got an addict living at home, they’re using all night, and they’re sleeping all day. And they’re nasty to the people around them, and they’re allowed to get away with that. And they’re not contributing to the household. They’re not doing any of the cooking. They don’t contribute any money. They don’t do their own laundry, somebody else is doing all that stuff for them. Why on earth should they change anything? Right? What incentive would they have? None, none at all. So the most loving thing that a loved one can do is to say, “Come with me. I love you so much. I’m going to show you how to do your laundry.”
Katie Wrigley 34:08
Nice. You empower them.
Candace Plattor 34:09
“From now on, you’re responsible for that. And from now on starting next month, maybe we expect you to pay some rent. If you’re going to live here, well, maybe it won’t be a huge amount of rent. But we want you to pay some rent. And we want you to cook two nights a week. And we want you to be up in the morning” and you don’t set all these boundaries all at once. Right? We want you to get up in the morning, we want you up by 830, you’re out looking for work or applying for a program or enrolling in school. And that’s your job now and you go and you do that. And if you don’t want to do that, then you need to find someplace else to be.”
Katie Wrigley 34:45
It sounds so simple.
Candace Plattor 34:49
It is simple, but it’s not easy. And you probably need some help to put that in place and which boundary do I set first and what consequences are there if he doesn’t cook on Tuesday, and he said he would, what do we do then? You don’t necessarily kick them out for that. But what do you do?
Katie Wrigley 35:09
Right? Right? Because you want to start holding him accountable. And you also want to give them a little bit of a room to make this change. Like, let’s say it’s like on a Tuesday, and things have been going this way for six years. And then suddenly, they’re like, Hey, you’re gonna need to start paying rent, and they’re gonna go, what the hell? They’re not going to instantly get on board with that so getting clear on you know how much more space can you give this person that you love. Because the thing that I’ve experienced myself and codependency is at some point, it’s going to implode. And you’re not going to have any more patience, any more compassion, any more love for that addict anymore, you won’t have any more space in you to keep giving past what’s okay for you.
Candace Plattor 35:55
And that’s not a good place for a family to be. There are things that families can do, that loved ones can do before it reaches that point.
Katie Wrigley 36:05
Yes. So where would you say is a good place for someone who’s really hearing this and like, you’re saying verbatim what my old life used to look like when I was disabled. And it’s so easy for me to like, hear you talking and be like, “ooh, addiction was such a big part of this”, both me being an addict, because I was still using until I was disabled, but that time, I actually chose to stop drinking. I’ve just passed my four year mark. And, in the interest of full disclosure, because that’s the way I roll, I do still use cannabis at night to sleep because I have a dependency on it. And for the longest time, I still wanted to get high every once in a while. And then one day, I didn’t enjoy getting high anymore. And that was a really great day and, on occasion with friends, if there’s a group sitting around to do it, then I may actually enjoy it. But I’m really focused on getting this dependence out of my body now. So this is a new focus that I’ve just started to work on. And it’s not that I get high in the middle of the day. But I don’t want to depend on anything, even if it has medicinal and positive components to which cannabis does. It is still something I have abused multiple times in my life. You know, drinking was pretty easy. I just initially was like, “Okay, I’m gonna give it up for a year.” And the first 90 days were so hard. I was like, wow, okay, I was drinking more than I thought I was. Maybe I should just continue this and at a year I’m like, “It’s gonna be so much easier to just not drink than to allow it on special occasions” because I know that about myself. I’m a slippery slope person. So I would be a hop skip and a bad day away from Monday being a special occasion. So I just opted to stay sober. And now it’s easy. And you know, every once in a while my partner doesn’t drink but every once in a while, he likes to have A drink. I’ve never even seen him tipsy but every once in a while he likes to have a drink. And he asked my permission before he did. I’m like, “You don’t need my permission. Like, go for it!” But I took that moment and I was like, I actually don’t have any trigger for alcohol at all. Like I love the taste of red wine. But I haven’t tasted it in so long. It’s not something like I still love the smell of it sometimes. But that’s enough for me, I can just smell someone’s red wine. I’m like, “Mmm thank you, that was enough”. But that was easy for me. But cannabis was always, that was my biggest numbing tool of choice. And my body isn’t producing its own melatonin yet without it because I’ve been using it for so long. So I’ve already stepped down my dose twice. And in the next six months, I’m just giving myself, because I want to have the experience of watching this over time because I’m so big on brain health, and I really want to watch how this unfolds and catalog it and really document what I’m experiencing as I’m breaking this dependence because I’ve broken the addiction. I don’t get high anymore. I don’t really use it recreationally. But sleep is still very difficult for me to do without cannabis. And so that’s where my work is. But if I had people around me much to your choice giving me a joint left and right. I may not be at this place. I may still be high all the time because it was giving me something.
Candace Plattor 39:38
Yeah. And that’s and that’s one of the places where self respect comes in. Because when we know, you know, addicts know, on some level, that their lives are a mess or that there’s a piece of their life that’s a mess. And if they choose to continue in that, that’s really disempowering for them. And it’s not self respectful. You know. So making the choice, you know what you’re doing, I love what you’re doing, what you’re doing is, you’re willing, you’re going to do this, and you’re going to do it your way. And that and you’re making choices. And now you can also, as you’re watching the brain, get rid of this substance, you know, as you’re watching that, you can also watch the self respect start to grow.
Katie Wrigley 40:33
Yeah, I’m doing this because I love and respect myself. Whereas before, I didn’t have those components and didn’t have this core confidence. I didn’t have this deep knowledge that I’m worth, love and respect.
Candace Plattor 40:46
Absolutely. And that’s such a big core belief, faulty core belief. That’s a big reason why we keep hurting ourselves is because we don’t really, somehow feel like we deserve to have a better life. Yeah, that’s just, that’s just so wrong on so many levels, you know, but we believe in any way until we heal that, that needs to get healed.
Katie Wrigley 41:11
Absolutely, absolutely. So, this is awesome. So I’m trying to think of where I want to go next . We’ve been chatting for a little bit. So in your journey, where did you realize that where the world needed help the most was people who are loving addicts versus, you know, the addicts have got, like you mentioned, you got the medical model with the 12 steps, you’ve got choice model, where you empower yourself and you can mix those and there’s no silver bullet for anyone. But where in all this, Candace, did you realize that the loved ones of addicts were struggling just as much and maybe even more so because they aren’t locked in the addiction. They’re watching it from the outside.
Candace Plattor 42:00
Yeah, many of them don’t even get to escape by getting high. You know, they have to feel everything. Yeah. So when I was about three years clean, I knew I wanted to work in the addiction field, I wanted to give back what I had been given, all the help that I was being given. So I went looking for work. And I found a job in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside area, down in the Downtown Eastside is the lowest income area in Canada. And that’s where most of the addicts and alcoholics and people with mental health issues and, you know, congregate and live. And some of them right now are living in tents on the street because the government isn’t housing them. And it’s just awful. It’s awful. But I worked in the Downtown Eastside as an addiction counselor for 16 years, you know, got the best education I could ever get. I really started to understand addiction, from all kinds of different angles. And one of the things that happened early on, was, I started getting calls from the loved ones of my clients. I didn’t expect that to happen. I didn’t go looking for them, they kind of dropped in my lap, and they called me and they said, “Oh, we don’t know what to do. We love them, and we hate them. And we just, you know, we want them with us. And we can’t stand having them around. And we don’t know what to do.” And, you know, I thought, Oh, my God, I have no idea what to tell these people. You know, I didn’t take any courses, I don’t know. But I started to see them. So they started coming in for sessions. And they were telling me everything that was going on and I began to see some patterns of enabling that were happening. And when I saw that, then I knew how I could help people. And so I started to help the families. There was nothing for them to go to except a 12 step program for family members of addicts. And so yeah, and for some people, that was helpful. I know people that have really been helped by that. And for other people, it wasn’t at all and it was kind of the only game in town at that time. Right. And so I saw a very big gap in service. And I thought this is not okay. And I want to be dedicating my life to this. I still work with addicts. And I love working with addicts. I love working with the loved ones even more because of the pivotal role that they don’t even realize they have. I mean they’re suffering so much. They’re feeling so much shame, guilt. They think they caused it. They didn’t cause it, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or haven’t done, your addict is making his own choices, her own choices, because this is a planet of free will. And I don’t care what you’ve done or you haven’t done, your addict doesn’t have to be in addiction. And again, I’m living proof of that, because I came from a very difficult family background. And I’m 35 years clean, sober. So it’s not, you know, but, but loved ones don’t understand how important they are, to the addicts they love. But they need to be healthy with them. They need to have healthy boundaries with them. They need to role model different things with them. Yeah. And once that starts happening, that changes the dynamics of the family, the shifts are incredible. I see it all the time. All the time.
Katie Wrigley 45:56
Yeah, you’re making me think of that quote that comes to mind “Be the change you want to see.” And this is really absolutely critical with addicts. If you want your beloved addict to change, it is going to start with you. Any change, and this is for anybody listening, addiction or not, any change you want to see, start with yourself, start to model what you want to see and see what happens.
Candace Plattor 46:21
Yeah. And that’s so right. And some people call my work. And they call it disparagingly, they call it tough love. “Well I don’t like that tough love”, you know? And my work is kind of tough love. It’s like, what are you going to put up with? And how long is that going to go on for? You know, so I’m very practical, pragmatic. So it is kind of tough love. But here’s the deal, tough love is love. Yes. It’s just different kinds of love than you’ve been doing before. Like, I know, I’ve seen a TED talk. I have a TEDx talk out there if people want to look at that. I talk about families and how they’re impacted and what they can do. But I’ve heard a TED Talk by somebody who basically says, “Oh, you know, she loves an addict. You have to just be with the addict and just connect with the addict. Just love the addict” like, uhmmm no, I mean yes but there’s more that needs to be done there. Yes, that’s not going to cure addiction. No, you know, if you can trust me, that will not cure it. But it can be cured. And there are things that family members need to do differently in the United Way, coming from love. And once that’s in place, it’s kind of sit up and take notice. They need to sit up and say, “Uh oh, things are changing. I don’t really like this, but I could potentially lose everything.” And sometimes they have to reach the bottom. Yeah. When people talk about you gotta reach the bottom. I think addicts kind of have to reach a bottom to be able to see that they want a different life. But it doesn’t have to be the lowest bottom ever created for anybody to be like that, you know, so. So there are things that you can learn. If you love somebody with addiction, know that they’re making a choice that you couldn’t make for them if you tried. You try making the choice for your addict to not use anymore. That doesn’t work. We have to make addicts uncomfortable enough in an addiction to want to come out of addiction. Yes, that’s how it works. So yeah, I mean, I have so much more than I can say about this. But if you’re in the situation, and you would like to have some help, that actually works, then I hope that you’ll get in touch with us. I have a team of counselors and this is all we do. We specialize in working with the families. We help you get the addict ready for us so that we can also work with them.
Katie Wrigley 49:22
Yes, yes. And you said something really important there. The addict is not going to want to change and it is important for the person loving them to accept that and focus on yourself as the thing that is available to you to change. Yeah, that is all you can do and trust the power of doing that because you don’t know what’s gonna happen. The addict may continue to use and they may wind up accidentally killing themselves as a result, that could happen. It is more likely to happen if they enable it.
Candace Plattor 50:00
Yes it’s more likely to happen if you’re enabling an addict, then if you’re not, and this is what families don’t, it’s hard to wrap your head around that, because it doesn’t make sense. Well, if I’m giving everything to an addict, to the person that I love, if I’m giving everything to the person I love, won’t that keep them alive? No, no, not necessarily. Often it doesn’t. Because they don’t have the incentive to learn about their own resiliency. Yeah, that they can live a different life and feel proud of themselves and develop their own self respect, you know, like, they need to do that, to be able to live a life that they like, and that they’re proud of, and that they want to continue living. They need to learn how to challenge themselves. They need to basically learn how to grow up. I know I did.
Katie Wrigley 50:59
Yep. And you know, I just want to share a little piece of my story that the addict that I loved that had been with at the time that I was disabled, and when I found Candace’s work initially, they are nowhere in my life anymore, I don’t really have anything to do with them. But every once in a while, they float into my radar. And as far as I can tell, they’re still using, and that is their choice, 100%. And I have nothing to do with it. I do not enable it. I have not even talked to them. In over four years. Ever since I kicked them out of my house, they have been out of my life. Because I struggled with my own addiction, I struggled with my own healing enough. I did not need anybody else making that harder for me, especially when it was someone who only wanted to take from me, who had no interest in any part of wellness for me at all or themselves. And that was painful at the time.
Candace Plattor 51:58
And the way you said that, you know, sometimes my clients call me the language police because the way we use language is so important. I need to make myself a badge or something because I’m proud of being the word police. You said I don’t need that. I don’t need that. The real truth is that you don’t want that.
Katie Wrigley 52:17
Correct. You’re absolutely correct. I don’t need or want that.
Candace Plattor 52:19
I’m done with that, go away from me. But it’s different when it’s a family member, when it’s, you know, when you’re in a relationship, if you’re married to the person that’s different. Yeah, it’s your son or daughter, or mother or father. It’s different, you know, because that person continues to be in your life.
Katie Wrigley 52:39
Yeah. So this, I could talk to you all day, Candace. But where can people find you to benefit from your work the same way that I did?
Candace Plattor 52:52
Yeah, my website is lovewithboundaries.com. Because we need to love with boundaries. So important. What we do is we offer a free, absolutely no strings attached, no obligation, free 30 minute consultation, where you tell us a little bit more about what’s going on for you, we tell you about our programs and how we can help you. And the way to get that free consultation is to fill out a questionnaire, I can send you the link for that questionnaire that maybe you can put in your show notes. It’s not a very long questionnaire. It’s not like reams of questions. It’s a few questions that help us to identify what’s going on. And as soon as we get that, we get in touch with you and we set up this call because we understand that addiction doesn’t wait. Yeah, for many of you, you’ve already been waiting for a long time. For many of you, you’ve already tried this, and you’ve tried that and you’ve paid for this and you pay for that, you know, what do you do? There’s nothing working. He’s gone to rehab 70,000 times. And you know, that’s not how we work. We’re very different in terms of how we work. So if you want to have a free 30 minute consultation with us, then all you have to do is fill out the questionnaire. And we’ll get that scheduled immediately. As soon as we both can. As soon as it can be done. Yeah. So that’s how you get in touch.
Katie Wrigley 54:39
Thank you. And I do remember that, you guys were very responsive. That was part of what left such a positive and I felt immediately heard too, so I really highly recommend Candace and her work. Her therapists that work with her are absolutely amazing. Like she said, this is her sole focus of what she does. She helps you be able to navigate your love for your addict, especially with a family member. So much to your point, I did get the option, I was blessed enough to be able to separate but when it is a child, or parent or sibling, it is different. And you can empower yourself, you can empower your addict through Candace and her work, to help them be able to see what’s going on and meet them with love, compassion, and empower them to conquer their addiction and start to respect themselves and you start to respect yourself too.
Candace Plattor 55:29
And that’s what it is. It’s all about respecting yourself and respecting your addict. Like it’s like you. You can’t change the addict’s decision to be in addiction, just like you couldn’t choose for him or her to become an addict. Yes, you couldn’t make that happen. Because we all have our own choices on this planet. And it’s just how that works. Yep. So if you make the right choices for you, the ripple effects of those choices and terms of how that affects the adequate loan. You’ll be seeing differences immediately. And sometimes the addict won’t stop. But you get to have your own best life. Regardless. Most of the time, the addicts stop. They do. They’re kind of waiting for somebody to stop them anyway. You know, “Somebody stop me.” You know, they’re kind of waiting for somebody to love them enough to say “No more”.
Katie Wrigley 56:36
Yes. So please remember that.
Candace Plattor 56:39
The other thing is that I have the TEDx talk. And if you just Google my name, Candace Plattor and TEDx, you’ll get my talk. And this is exactly what I’m talking about.
Katie Wrigley 56:53
Great! I will link to that in the show notes as well. So the TED talk, the questionnaire for people to fill out as well as your website. Thank you so much, Candace, you ended on a perfect note of Be The Change, to start to do this. The addict is actually waiting for you to do this, regardless of whatever resistance they meet you with, they’re waiting for this.
Candace Plattor 57:15
They’re hoping you’ll love them enough to do what’s right for them, even when it’s uncomfortable for you.
Katie Wrigley 57:22
Yes, yes, absolutely. That’s a beautiful note. And thank you so much, Candace, for joining me today. And thank you my listener, as always for joining me as well. I really hope this helped you understand more about the addiction and what people are dealing with both within the addiction and for people who love the addict. And next week, we’re going to continue focusing on mental health. And I’m going to take you on a deep dive with the correlation between mental and physical health to help you unravel some of that mystery. And I hope you’ll come back and join me again then. Thank you so much.