There are recovery concepts that it's important for addicts and their families to learn because they help them to conceptualize their problems differently. Instead of "I don't know what happened.," the issue becomes "I shouldn't hang around with those guys anymore. I get in trouble every time I do." (People, places and things.)
Here are some examples:
- Codependency: Valuable concept if it helps a couple to understand that there are areas where issues of responsibilities and boundaries blur, and genuine intimacy suffers as a result. Meaningless when used broadly: "Codependent relationship," tells absolutely nothing about the actual issues and problem areas, and in fact, leads to a lot of unnecessary anxiety. Every relationship has codependent aspects to it; no relationship is entirely free of codependence.
- Nominalizing: This is when we make a thing out of a process or person. Shiela is a "Codependent". Harry is "resistant to Treatment." Susie is "The Lost Child." Somebody around here has to be "The Scapegoat." Is anyone an "Anything?" I don't think so. Jane stands up in a meeting and identifies as a "Alcoholic" or "Addict", she is stating something essential about herself to people empathic and understanding, not calling herself a name. I tell little Johnny that he is the "Family Scapegoat", I have done nothing remotely helpful at all.
- Enabling: Shocker: enabling is not intrinsically bad. If I enable my kid to go to college, or my wife to open a studio, or my dog to go to a groomer, or my DVR to catch LOST, have I done something wrong. No, and neither have you. Enabling is recovery shorthand for behaviors that either facilitate an active addiction by financially subsidizing it, or by interfering with the logical consequences of addiction. That is about the extent to which you can generalize about enabling. Anything beyond that isn't much more than a name to call someone. Instead of helping someone to empower themselves, it gives them something to feel a little guilty and ashamed about.
She doesn't need to hear jargon; she needs to feel empowered to use her own intelligence and her own judgment, and not feel guilty for doing it.
I like to think Raymond Carver would approve.