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A Candid Q&A with Meredith Beardmore on Surviving Addiction's Grip

Updated: Aug 6, 2023


Welcome to our exclusive interview with Meredith Beardmore, author of the upcoming book, Hey Addiction, Thanks for Nothing!: A Brutally Honest Guide to Loving an Addict Without Losing Your Mind. Meredith's professional credentials as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) specializing in substance abuse treatment and her candid personal experiences loving an addict come together in this unique self-help memoir. She thought she knew addiction, but life taught her the brutal truth—that even a seasoned therapist can get caught in addiction's unforgiving stranglehold.

In this book, Meredith has tapped into her professional expertise and personal experiences to offer a guide that shatters stereotypes, providing practical strategies for those battling to survive the addiction of their loved ones. What sets her apart is her unapologetic authenticity and her use of humor to confront the harsh realities of addiction. She invites us into her world, sharing the trials, failures, and desperate measures she undertook in her struggle to prevent her loved one's addiction from wreaking havoc in their lives. Her story is powerful, her advice insightful, and her authenticity inspiring.

 

Q. Your book, "Hey Addiction, Thanks for NOTHING," addresses a niche yet significant group affected by addiction – those who love someone battling addiction. Can you share what inspired you to write this book?

Survival. Truly. Writing this book helped me to survive the pain of loving an addict. I would wake up in the middle of the night and write in a "stream of consciousness" way. Since I often view things through a therapeutic lens, given that I am a therapist, I began to see patterns in my behaviors and thoughts in response to the addict. I pulled from the various techniques I utilized in my work and used them on myself. I began to experience healing, and I knew I had to share my experiences and my guide to moving out of the shadow of addiction's harm. Q. As someone who has experienced this journey firsthand and professionally, can you tell us how your personal experiences have shaped your work and this book? My personal experience with loving an addict has done nothing but enhance my work as a therapist and writer. Look, would I want to go through that experience again? No. Did it make me a better human, writer, and therapist? Yes. Pain can make great art. Also, some therapists can work with loved ones of addicts and have an understanding of their experience, but it only goes so deep. Since I have lived this, I feel I can validate and support my clients differently. I can tailor my approach and pull from other theoretical orientations for the specific stage of the healing process. Q. You chose to infuse humor into this difficult topic. Can you share your thoughts on this decision and how you believe humor helps in dealing with the grim realities of addiction? Humor is everything! Humor helps us survive. Since loving an addict can be so dark, it often evaporates any ounce of joy or ounce of happiness. That is why so many loved ones of addicts become a shell of themselves; they are in a cycle of worry and fear, given the reality that death could (and often does) come to fruition, that they have no space for anything light-hearted. Also, humor is essential for healing and serves a significant purpose - it can put a mirror to our face. For instance, I began to draw pictures of the insane scenarios I got myself into during my husband's addiction. I still thought I could "fix" the addiction by diluting alcohol bottles with water in the middle of the night. During a session, I took out one of the pictures I drew because it was almost the same scenario my client explained. When I shared it with my client, they began cackling, and we both laughed to the point of howling for five minutes. The picture spoke the truth and illuminated the problematic behaviors that we often justified as "helping" the addict. That client left my office that day with a smile I had never seen from them before and stated that they felt "lighter than I have in years." We would not have made as much progress in our therapeutic work if humor hadn't been integrated into that session; therefore, it was imperative for humor to be a large part of the book.

Q. You've incorporated several therapeutic modalities into the content of your book, like Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Expressive Arts Techniques. How do these contribute to the unique approach you've taken in this guide? Frequently, therapists specialize in one or two treatment modalities. Still, I found this significantly limiting as a loved one of an addict. I felt that loving an addict is anything but simple, and one approach did not work for me; therefore, I did not feel I could simplify it in my practice. I began to attend trainings, not only to fulfill my continuing education requirements but with a more critical agenda - to broaden the open for loved ones of addicts in treatment. When therapists attend different trainings, we often practice the different techniques at the conference on ourselves - meaning we typically practice in a dyad. So, I would use trainings as an opportunity to try out different techniques on myself. I was the guinea pig. I began to understand what worked for me, and then I would incorporate it into my work. For example, when experiencing chronic rumination, I would utilize CBT. When I found it challenging to self-soothe, I would lean on DBT. When I couldn't articulate my feelings effectively, I would draw my feelings through Expressive Arts Techniques. When I felt out of balance, I would utilize ACT and lean into mindfulness. Pulling from many different modalities created a powerful guide for the book. Q. "Hey Addiction, Thanks for NOTHING" seems to strike a balance between raw experiences and research-backed therapy methods. How did you manage to balance personal stories with professional practices without losing the essence of either? Thank you for that compliment! It was seamless because I employed the techniques I had learned and explored on myself. I was also experiencing loving an addict, working with clients, and attending trainings, all at the same time. This led to journaling memories, examining myself, and utilizing techniques simultaneously. It was a perfect storm.

Q. In your book, you've aimed to break the silence surrounding secondary traumatization. Could you expand on this concept and its impact on those who love someone struggling with addiction? Absolutely. People with addiction concerns often experience traumatic events due to their addiction. For example, the addict may be hospitalized due to an overdose, and this would be identified as a primary trauma because they are experiencing it firsthand. The loved one of the addict may find the addict after overdosing, which may lead to calling the ambulance and witnessing their hospitalization. This is secondary traumatization since the loved one was indirectly exposed to the traumatic event. Since this is categorized as secondary trauma, it is not always given the attention it deserves, and how it can manifest into different conditions such as PTSD. In most cases, loved ones are exposed to multiple distressing events involving the addict, sometimes daily, that trigger their flight or fight response, which is an automatic physiological reaction. When this occurs regularly, the sympathetic nervous system stays activated. Suppose the loved one does not have a reprieve. In that case, they can develop distressing symptoms, often leading to PTSD and other disorders. I am still shocked by the little support and awareness given to the loved ones of addicts. There is still constant minimization of their secondary trauma and a belief that they should be the ones to "save" the addict. This unrealistic expectation ignores the loved ones' suffering and is ultimately shaming. Q. Your book takes an interactive approach with exercises and activities. Can you share some examples of these and how they aim to help readers? Absolutely. I have the readers take a moment to acknowledge all the wonderful parts of the addict that they didn't have a chance to say goodbye to; the person before addiction stole them and robbed the readers simultaneously. Then, I ask the readers to write them a eulogy. Unfortunately, some readers may already have had to create a eulogy if the addict they loved had died. Writing the eulogy is incredibly healing and assists in processing their grief. In another chapter, I normalize some thoughts and feelings loved ones may experience, the emotions that are often minimized by society. Since the loved ones of addicts are usually shamed when expressing their feelings, I created permission slips that serve as reminders. I made one as a bookmark for myself and had another taped to my bathroom mirror, so I would see it daily. Here's an example: I, ___________, give myself permission to recognize that loving an addict is HARD. I did not ask for this. I may have thoughts or feelings that are unwanted, but it's just my body's way of protecting me because THIS IS HARD! In another chapter, I address the urge loved ones feel to step in and "fix" the addict when, in fact, they should be doing the opposite. I created affirmations for readers to utilize when they have the urge to stop the addict from experiencing consequences. Here's a sample: Step Aside Affirmations It is an act of love to step aside. This is not your battle. Step aside. You show love by believing in their ability to change. Step Aside. You will support them when they are ready to change. Step Aside.

8. The Instagram account for your book, @heyatfnothing, is becoming a community for people to share their experiences with loving someone who has an addiction. How has social media influenced the creation and reception of your book? The Instagram account has been so integral to the book's creation. The art in the book features scenarios that loved ones of addicts get themselves in. While I already had many pictures completed, I felt it would be fun to make an account and ask people to submit their anonymous stories of loving an addict. It was my own experimental group. I was blown away by the messages I received and began posting anonymous stories on the account. The wide reception of the account also validated my hunch that this is a huge group of underserved people. This only motivated me more to get this book published. Q. How does your work as "Mend with Mere" on Youtube correlate with your book? How have your subscribers influenced your journey as an author?

On my YouTube channel, Mend with Mere, I react and analyze lyrics from a therapeutic lens...but that isn't how it started. Initially, I was doing more therapy-focused videos, with a series on "Loving an Addict." One subscriber sent me a message and requested that I react to the song Renegade by Big Red Machine. Taylor Swift was the vocalist on the track, which I was not aware of. As I started listening to the lyrics, I quickly realized why it was recommended to me - the song was about the pain of loving an addict. After this emotional reaction, viewers began swarming my channel, requesting my reaction to songs with a mental health/addiction focus. I began to connect with my subscribers in a new, unexpected way, and their support kept me going as an author, pushing me to bring this book to fruition. Q. Finally, can you share with us what you hope readers will take away from "Hey Addiction, Thanks for NOTHING," and what advice you would give to someone who finds themselves loving someone with an addiction? My advice to someone loving an addict is to get support, especially from therapy and/or Al-Anon/Nar-Anon. This way, they will understand that they are not alone; there are SO many of us. Do not be hard on yourself, and this is a reminder that you are not just this one experience. While addiction is all-consuming and complex, you are also complex; therefore, this is not your only identity or journey in life. You are full of beautiful parts that must be seen, and you must honor yourself. This is incredibly hard when you see the destruction of addiction in your life, but you can obtain peace again. I promise. You deserve it.

 

Don't miss out on this brutally honest, insightful, and authentic guide. The book is set to release on September 15th, 2023.


Pre-orders are now available on our website, Amazon.com, and Barnes and Noble.


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