“Should I Stay or Should I Go?” The Dilemma of Addiction

July 10, 2019 by Candace Plattor

In the early 1980s, a musical group called The Clash released a song whose title went on to become almost an anthem for many people in a variety of situations. The song was called “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” and it truly sums up the multitude of dilemmas that people experience in life.

Today we will be looking at how this simple question presents itself when focusing on addiction – both for the addicts and for their loved ones.

Is Addiction Actually a Disease?

As many of you know, I am an addict. I have been in active recovery for the last 32 years, with no relapses and no time off for good behavior. I have also been working as an Addiction Therapist exclusively with addicts and their families for approximately 27 years – and I am the loved one of addicts, so I know addiction from all different angles. As a result, I have moved away from believing that addiction is a disease – also known as the “medical model,” which is espoused by the 12-Step programs I attended for many years (such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, CODA, and Al-Anon), and still widely believed by a variety of addiction doctors.

The people who believe in the medical model also call addiction a “brain disease” – perhaps an apt description because all addictive behaviors affect our brain chemistry, especially mind-altering addictions like alcohol or drugs. But I also know that if I raise my little pinky and move it up or down, there is brain involvement in that too. That’s how we’re wired as human beings – there is brain involvement in everything we do.

I have difficulty seeing addiction as a disease for two simple reasons:

1. I have a medical disease. Diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 1973, I was told that it is incurable and that I’d have it my whole life. Although this has basically been true, after many years of being in active recovery from addiction and learning how to take really good care of myself, I’m happy to say that some days I forget I have Crohn’s – that’s how much better it is much of the time.

But I can’t just say to myself “I think I won’t have Crohn’s anymore.” People with medical diseases like cancer, diabetes, and many others can’t just decide not to have them anymore. It doesn’t work that way.

However, as I found out early into my recovery, we can do that with addiction.

2. In my considerable experience in working with those struggling with addiction, what I know to be true is that when we tell an addict they have a “disease,” we generally get one of two responses. One response is that they say, usually with a lot of aggressive and arrogant attitude, “I have a disease, I can’t help it – get out of my face and leave me alone!” The other is that they say basically the same thing, but in a much more whiny tone of voice displaying much more of a victim mentality: “I have a disease, I can’t help it, stop bothering me.”

Either way, they feel like they are giving up all their personal power and have no other choice than to continue the addiction.

Contrary to the belief that we are “powerless over our addiction” – which is what we are told in Step 1 of the 12 Steps, I see it differently and have for a long time: I see addiction as a choice. Let me explain what I mean.

I don’t think that anyone chooses to become an addict – I know I didn’t. In fact, most people think they can handle whatever addictive behavior they are regularly using. “It’s not me who will become addicted,” they convince themselves, “because I’m special and unique.” They believe it’s the other guy who’ll have a problem – not themselves. That is, until they find themselves floundering right in the middle of that very insidious problem.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Like the caterpillar who intuitively knows it must change into that spectacular butterfly or die, there comes a point in every addict’s life when they know that there is something very wrong in their lives. They see other people living what they consider to be better, more productive, more successful lives than the ones they, as addicts in active addiction, are living. They know their relationships are suffering, their health issues are getting worse, they can’t hold down a job – and can’t seem to go a day without using the addictive behavior, even though in some cases it could very easily kill them.

It is when that realization strikes, that the addict is in the throes of making a choice. Am I going to stay in active addiction and feel awful about myself, or am I going to shift into active recovery and develop some self-respect? That is the choice point. Do I stay or do I go?

The good news and the bad news are the same: no one else can make that decision for an addict.

The Same is True for Loved Ones of Addicts

Family and other loved ones of people struggling with addiction are essentially in the same boat as the addict. Many loved ones “enable” the addicts they love because they don’t know what else to do. They often feel like they’ve tried everything – to no avail – and they don’t have a clue what to try next.

If you’re the loved one of an addict, there will come a time in your life when you know that what you’ve been doing isn’t working. In the midst of your frustration, anger, fear and resentment, you may wonder whether you even want to continue being in relationship with them at all – or if it’s best to just cut them off. This kind of decision is extremely difficult and often heartbreaking for families – and it usually presents itself after all other avenues they can think of have been tried.

What generally happens for most loved ones, early on, is that they begin to work harder than their addict is working – trying to make things better just so that this nightmare will end. But what they don’t understand is that, as they enable the addict, they actually contribute to the addiction continuing.

Learning how to set and maintain self-respectful boundaries is the best thing families can do when dealing with an addicted person – that kind of “helping” (instead of enabling) is what assists the addiction to stop. But until families learn this – and how to actually do this – they keep trying to change and control people and situations that they simply can’t change or control.

Think about it: if loved ones could control their addicts, they would be doing that already. Instead, they waste a lot of their precious energy until their own vitally important self-care becomes depleted. That is generally the time when they begin to ask themselves – in response to their relationships with the addicts they so dearly love – “Should I stay or should I go?”

Remaining in any kind of active addiction, whether to drugs, alcohol, or to another person, is never a good idea. Poisoning ourselves with toxic substances, or hurting ourselves with other addictive behaviors such as overspending, internet addiction, gaming, sex addiction, disordered eating, or codependency is never a healthy, self-respecting choice.

And enabling an addict – contributing to keeping the addiction going – is NEVER a loving act.

Whether as an addict still entrenched in addiction or as the loved one of someone struggling with this issue, when asking yourself “Should I stay or should I go?” it is important to remember that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. However the choice point shows up in your life, if you’ll be doing what needs to be done in order for you and those you love to be healthy, then that is the gauge you’ll want to follow.

And if you’re not sure how to follow a different and better path – whether as an addict or a loved one – please be sure to find a professional like myself who can help you through this process.

Asking yourself “Should I stay or should I go?” could ultimately be the best question you could pose to yourself – it shows that you’re tired of the same-old, same-old actions you’ve been doing and that you want a change. Be sure to listen to your inner answer carefully and to take action in as positive a way as you can – and as soon as you can.

The Secret to Stopping Addiction in Your Family — Forever

The Secret to Stopping Addiction in Your Family — Forever
Candace Plattor

Jun 26 · 7 min read

Stopping Addiction in Your Family Forever
Early on in my work with addictive behaviours, I noticed that most addicts struggle with addiction their whole lives, while a smaller group seemed to be able to completely recover.
At that time, I was about three years clean and sober — and I was intrigued because I wanted to be part of the group that stayed in recovery. So I dedicated my life’s work to figuring out what made the difference between the few that decided to remain in recovery while the rest chose to relapse time and again.
What I discovered helped me to maintain sobriety for 32 years — and it has also helped the hundreds of addicts and their families I’ve worked with as clients. Today, I’m going to share that secret with you.
Loved Ones Actually Have More Leverage Than They Know
What loved ones of people struggling with addiction need to understand is that they can be the key to changing their addict’s behaviour, thus reclaiming health and happiness for their families. In fact — they ARE the key.
Most loved ones feel as if their addict is running their lives, and they have no idea what to do to stop the vicious cycle they find themselves in. They feel increasingly frustrated because they have spent so much time and money trying everything they can think of, but nothing has worked long-term. They’re desperate to know how to fix this problem so that their families can have peace again.
If you are the loved one of an addict who is still in active addiction, you know the kind of pain this can cause in a family. You know the intense guilt and shame of wondering whether you are to blame for causing this to have happened — those toxic thoughts that keep you awake at 3 o’clock in the morning. “Is it really my fault?” “Am I truly a terrible mother/father/ sibling…?” “What should I have done differently?”
But because few families talk about these feelings, they are not aware that so many other people also experience these thoughts — and as a result, most loved ones often feel as if they are all alone in this.

Here are two truths you may not know:

1. Virtually everyone today, regardless of where they live, is in some way negatively affected by either their own addiction or somebody else’s — or they know someone who is.

2. Another person’s addiction is NOT your fault. You did not cause this to happen. The addict is at choice about whether to be in active addiction or in active recovery of some kind, regardless of anyone else’s actions.
How do I know this?

I know this because my life was not a picnic in the family I grew up in. There was addiction, there was heavy emotional abuse and trauma, and there were some devastating secrets that were wrapped up in pretty pink bows so that no one would know what was going on behind our closed doors.
And yes, even though my addiction began due to a chronic illness (Crohn’s Disease) that doctors didn’t know how to treat in the early 1970s — except to throw plenty of addictive medications at it — it was entirely my decision to stay in addiction for as long as I did.
The very moment I made a different choice — to stop using and stay alive — is when my recovery began. No other person could make that decision for me; we simply can’t do that for anyone else.
And now, one day at a time, one second at a time sometimes, I am 32 years clean and sober.
What I know to be true is that my choice to remain in recovery is entirely up to me and no one else.
The moment I decide to stop practicing holistically healthy self-care — the moment my Sobriety-Loses-Its-Priority (S.L.I.P) — that is the moment I will be choosing to set myself up for a relapse.
That’s how it works.

Enabling vs. Helping

This is a planet of free will, and we all have the right and freedom to make our own choices. I am totally responsible for the consequences of the choices I make, and I understand today that I cannot blame anyone else for any of that.
However, that being said, until we learn this vitally important lesson about free will, there is a pretty good chance that as loved ones of addicts, we’ve been contributing to the addiction — especially if those unhealthy addictive dynamics are still going on.
But here is the great news: If you’ve been part of the problem, that also means you can be part of the solution. And if you want things to change, you’ll have to discover what that solution actually is.
If you truly want your addict’s addiction to stop, then you’ll need to learn the difference between helping and enabling — and act accordingly.
When we do anything to contribute to the addiction continuing — such as giving an addict money when we know full well where that money will be spent — we are enabling the addict. Conversely, when we end our enabling and start offering behaviours that assist the addiction to stop, we are helping the addict.

This is a simple definition, but it says so much. Some of us, as loved ones, are actually addicted to enabling behaviours in order to meet our own needs, such as being liked or avoiding confrontation.
But if you really think about it, enabling an addict is never a loving act. How could it be? If you’re enabling instead of helping, then you’re colluding with the addict and making it easier for them to continue the addiction — and to ultimately live a life with no self-respect and no real future, except for more and more addiction as the condition progresses.
If this is what you’ve been doing with your addict, please know that you’re not the only one. But it’s imperative to understand that in order for their addiction to stop, it is very likely that you will have to do your own inner work around why you’ve chosen that course of action.
It will be essential for you to discover why you feel as if you always have to please other people, to never say no, perhaps to feel excessively responsible for others — especially when you know that your own needs and wants have been languishing on the back burner for far too long.
When new clients come to me for the first time, they invariably — and courageously — admit “I know I’m enabling, but…” They often then go on to rationalize why they’ve been doing that. Most of the time it’s because they haven’t known what else to do, because they’ve never really sought out help or talked about it before.
But think about it this way: If you know you’ve been enabling and you know that hasn’t been a good thing to do, aren’t you an addict of sorts too? How can you be asking the addict in your life to change what they’re doing if you’re not prepared to change what you’re doing?
We Need to Stop Enabling Our Addicts
It’s definitely time for us to stop enabling addicts — in our families, in our societies, and even globally — and start doing things that will actually help them. That is virtually the only way to end addiction. Anything else is like putting a bandage on a heart attack.
At the beginning of this article, I said I was going to share the “secret” of why some addicts make the decision to recover while others continue to choose active addiction for a very long time. In case you’re still wondering what that secret is, I’ll make it very clear:
An enabled addict does not stop using.

The question to ask yourself shouldn’t be “Why don’t enabled addicts stop?” Instead, the question needs to be “Why on earth would an enabled addict stop?”
If you are the loved one of an addict who continues to choose active addiction, please become willing to look at how you might be contributing to that decision.

Remember: Enabling an addict is never a loving act.
If you need assistance to learn how to stop enabling, please reach out as soon as possible to someone like myself, who can help you with this.
Because the truth is — if nothing changes, nothing changes — and it doesn’t have to be that way.

This article first appeared on Recovery.org on October 9, 2017.
Candace Plattor, M.A., R.C.C., is an Addictions Therapist in private practice. Candace specializes in working with the family and other loved ones of people who are struggling with addiction, in her unique and signature Family Addiction Therapy Program. Candace believes that everyone in the family is affected by addiction and everyone needs to heal. For more than 25 years, she has been helping both addicts and their loved ones understand their dysfunctional behaviours and make healthier life choices. You can visit her website and sign up to receive Chapter One of her award-winning book, Loving an Addict, Loving Yourself: The Top 10 Survival Tips for Loving Someone with an Addiction, and “Like” her Facebook page.

Nikki tells the whole experience

I had the pleasure of coach Nikki Van Schyndel at TEDx Bear Creek Park. Here is the latest article she wrote about her experience.
Be sure to check out Nikki’s book, and the video of her talk.


You never hear the full story behind giving a TED Talk. It always just starts with a smile and for those of us fortunate enough, it ends in a standing ovation.

But what happened for me, leading up to that world-stage moment was one of the toughest survival journeys I’ve ever gone on. TED took over my life for 4 months.

Now, I love being a storyteller. To be able to relive a memory, a myth or a lesson learned in such a way to inspire others, is like spreading magic. The Ted stage captures and shares such creativity, inspiration and knowledge and I’ve always wanted to stand in that red circle. So did a friend of mine.

Nearly two years ago, we stood together applauding a speaker at a TEDx Vancouver conference and vowed in that moment to both be chosen for the same event the following year. It miraculously happened. I’m quite sure the world conspires for everyone’s success when we open ourselves to it.

Truth be told, I never thought dreaming up my Idea Worth Spreading and delivering it under those bright lights would be such a long, soul searching and arduous journey. And all I was suppose to do was tell a story…

I’ve spoken in front of hundreds of people before without feeling the jitters, as a competitive athlete I’ve learned how to rise above pressure and thoughts of failure, and I’ve never had a problem speaking from my heart, but the circumstances around my Tedx talk, somehow crushed me and I continued failing and proving to be a huge disappointment to the committee.

I was chosen through an application and interview process where only one man believed in me. That was stressful enough. I was made to write three entirely different speeches, I continually faced numerous head shakes and thumbs down at every practice session, I couldn’t get through the talk without becoming emotional and then, when I finally had a script deemed “worth sharing” – I had to memorize it until my mind could no longer produce thoughts of anything else. Once I became robotic, my actions matching my words, the rise and falls of my voice drilled into me, I was told, “You’re just not speaking from the heart.” And I”m like, “No shit. That was beat out of me long ago. I don’t even know my own story anymore.”

On the advice of my incredible speaking coach, Tania Ehman, who was the only one who understood me, I escaped to the deserts of California for the mega wildflower bloom. I needed to become wild again; put my bare feet in some warm sand and get back to who I was and the story I was to share with the world.

Even with the memories of moonlit canyon hikes, following coyote tracks, I still kept failing; forgetting my lines, crying and just stuck in my head – no connection – no authenticity – no me, right up until the dress rehearsal of my performance. I’m sure I caused a lot of gray hairs for the volunteer committee. And then…the funniest story unfolded…which put everything in perspective.

Too many tickets had been sold for the main event, so myself and the 12 other speakers would be able to practice in front of an audience who were not sympathetic to our practicing struggles nor attending to give us constructive feedback.

I arrived in my everyday “town” clothes, with a change of t-shirt in my backpack – I had already worked myself up into a nice, uncharacteristic, armpit stress sweat. After attending the information session on “dressing for TED,” I already had my new clothes picked out and pressed for the big day, I wasn’t risking a clothing disaster too. I had enough to go wrong, especially now that I was chosen to be the first speaker…”to set the tone for the day.” I mean, how could I back out of that responsibility when the response was, “You’ve spent your whole life defying your fears Nikki, why stop now?”

The disaster came as soon as I put on my clean t-shirt. I happen to be wearing a pink, lacy, Victoria’s Secret bra with a rather thin, tight t-shirt and under the lights….yeah, it was see-through! I didn’t need our dressing coach or makeup staff that day to know I was walking on that rehearsal stage in the worst possible outfit.

I miraculously gave a decent performance, despite the chilly, air-conditioned temperature of the room, which led to the worst TED nickname of all time: Nikki Nipples! I have no idea what the audience thought, those of us who knew each other laughed hysterically, that is once I put their embarrassment at ease. One brave woman came up and said, “I loved your talk, but I’m sure the men loved it more.”

I think that performance was the best thing to have happened for us all, it put this TEDx experience into perspective. We all struggled with the experience in our own ways. The failures, pressures, complaints, harsh criticizing, uncertainties and endless hours of practice, study and deleting words from our constantly changing scripts and throughlines, eliminated the joy of a dream lived – that dream of knowing we were going to be standing in that red circle, telling a story that meant something to us, in front of a world audience who wanted to listen.

In the end, my wilderness survival skills saved my TEDx life. Wilderness survivalists are taught to follow the “Sacred Order of Survival:” Shelter-Water-Fire-Food. I’ve adapted the order:

#1 Breathing: to eliminate panic, center myself in the heart, fearlessly open myself to the unknown

#2 Laughter: if you can’t laugh at yourself or find humor in your situation, you’re in for a world of hurt, whether living in the wilderness or city

#3 Wonder & Awe: life is a beautiful wonder when you have eyes to see it and and open heart to feel it, this is what helps make miraculous happen.

#4 Shelter: making forts is fun. And fun is what a TED Talk should be. And thanks in part to Victoria’s Secret and of course to everyone else involved, thank you for all the learning and speaking adventures, I had a lot of fun on the big day, bare feet and all!

What if you’ve been searching for your life purpose in all the wrong places? In this inspiring talk of survival, lions and overcoming fear, Nikki van Schyndel will uncover the true meaning of purpose and how to quickly start making the greatest difference in this world.

How to Help the Addict You Love to Become Healthy: The Family’s Role in Addiction Recovery


Addiction is so rampant now in our society. We all know that more and more people are dying from the ravages of this horrific situation, especially due to drugs like fentanyl that take the lives of drug users in a split second. We simply don’t have the luxury of treading lightly around addiction anymore. We each need to do all we can to shift this and get the results that all families of addicts are looking for.

It IS possible.


So how do we make that shift? Many of you are probably wondering how that can happen. I’d like to tell you what I think — and about what is working wonders for my clients.

In terms of recovery from addiction, it is critical for loved ones of addicts to understand the concept of enabling — because until the enabling stops, there is little hope that the addiction will stop.

There is a huge difference between enabling and helping, and the faster we all learn about that, the faster we can halt addiction in its tracks. And yes, it is that simple — even though it isn’t always easy to change one’s ways.

The ‘simple’ way is not always the ‘easy’ way. Most families who are involved with addiction know a lot about enabling, even if they have never heard that term — because they have unwittingly been doing just that with the addicts they love — and many have been doing it consistently for a long time, as they witnessed the addiction continuing.

Let me give you a very brief definition: An enabling behaviour is one that keeps the addiction going. A helping behaviour assists the addiction to stop.

When we enable addiction, we’re doing things like giving money to an addict, even though we know exactly where that money will go — or we allow an addict in active addiction to live in our homes even when they contribute nothing positive to the household and in fact do things like punch holes in walls, call us terrible names, push and shove us, bring illegal substances into our homes, sleep all day and party all night… The list of disrespectful ways an enabled addict behaves goes on and on.

And it doesn’t stop until the enabling stops.


By the time a family comes to see me, they are usually at the end of their rope — in fact, the very first thing many of them say is “I know I’m enabling but…” They then go on to tell me why they are doing exactly that, citing plenty of reasons. What I know to be true today is that loved ones enable because no one has shown them any other way to deal with this horrific situation they’ve found themselves in. Once they learn the difference between an enabling behaviour and a helping behaviour, change begins to happen — often very quickly.

Helping behaviours consist of setting and maintaining healthy boundaries and developing our all-important self-respect. If you’re a loved one wanting to help instead of enable, you’ll need to take your own needs off the back burner and start taking care of yourself. In most cases, you’ll need to do this first so that you can role-model this for the addict in your life.

You see, addicts who are still using are not going to come up to you and say “Please set healthy boundaries for me!” No — those addicts are going to try whatever they can to manipulate you to give them whatever they want in that moment. Addicts want what they want when they want it, and they want it right now. Delayed gratification isn’t the name of the game for an addict — especially one still in active addiction — and they see their job as doing whatever they have to do in order to have their desire met — right now.


I remember a family I worked with a while ago. Their adult daughter (we’ll call her Jane) was actively using cocaine, heroin, pot, alcohol — pretty much anything she could get her hands on. Jane had moved out a few years before, living in very scuzzy places, having left her 4-year-old daughter with her parents to raise. And because they loved their granddaughter dearly and didn’t want to see her go into the foster care system, raise her they did.

Meanwhile, Jane lived in one fleabag hotel after another, in the worst part of town. She would frequently be evicted because of her using as well as her failure to pay the very minimal rent, and she often prostituted herself in order to buy her drugs. One day, her parents heard that Jane wasn’t doing very well, so they decided they’d go find her and bring her home — and that’s exactly what they did.

It didn’t take long for Jane to rule the roost again, as she had when she was a teenager still living at home, using drugs and alcohol on a regular basis. She soon began to be belligerent toward her parents, both verbally and physically, which her parents allowed because they didn’t know there might be another way to respond — and because they were a little scared and intimidated by her. Jane was even stealing anything that wasn’t nailed down so that she could either pawn it or exchange it for drugs. She brought illegal substances and sketchy people into her parents’ home on a regular basis. And, worst of all, she barely had any contact with her own child — a little girl who remembered her mommy and was devastated by Jane’s lack of attention and ongoing verbal assaults.

It was a nightmare.

Jane’s parents desperately tried to talk with her, to explain to her what her behaviour was doing to all of them. They thought that if she could just understand how awful this had become for them — and for Jane’s daughter — she would immediately change and make more positive choices. They pleaded with her to seek counselling, and even set up some appointments for Jane that she never kept. Her mother cried frequently while her father just became more and more withdrawn and passively angry. This began to take quite a toll on their otherwise loving relationship. Neither of them slept much, which affected their lives in all kinds of ways. Because they didn’t understand the real nature of addiction, they felt totally responsible and ashamed — and worse, they saw themselves as completely powerless as this appalling situation spiralled right out of control.

Meanwhile, Jane was enjoying living in the lap of luxury — that’s how it felt for her after living the way she had been for several years. She had a cushy bed, enough food to eat, a hot shower to use — all the comforts of home, while she behaved abominably to her family day after day, week after week.


It wasn’t until Jane’s parents came to see me as clients that they began to understand that their enabling was contributing in a big way to what was happening in their home.

They learned that Jane was making the choice to keep using her addiction and that they were not responsible for that — no one could make those choices but Jane herself. But when they learned the truth about how enabling contributes to keeping an addiction going, they decided to change their ways.

Little by little, Jane’s parents began to set some healthy boundaries for themselves, for Jane — and by extension, for her daughter. They learned how to maintain those boundaries, even when things with Jane were particularly difficult. Although they feared what could happen to her if she went back to the streets, they simply were no longer willing to have her at home unless she abided by their guidelines — the most important of which was that Jane attend counselling regularly. At first Jane balked, as many addicts do when the rules of the game change. But eventually she made her choice — and that choice was to become healthy.

Jane and her parents all attended counselling with me for several months — and specialized children’s counselling was provided for Jane’s young daughter as well. A lot changed in that initial stage of their therapy. The parents began to recognize that by enabling, they were really meeting their own needs while their daughter floundered, coming close to death on more than one occasion. Their bond strengthened as they became united in their efforts to actually help Jane.

It didn’t take long for Jane to stop using drugs and alcohol, and in time become an actual parent to her child. She stopped her abusive behaviour toward her parents, gradually replacing her anger and resentment with gratitude and appreciation.

Eventually, Jane found a job and was able to move into her own apartment with her daughter — not too far away from her parents, who still help her out from time to time with babysitting, home-cooked meals, laundry and some grocery shopping. Jane is now three years clean and sober, employed full-time, attends recovery meetings and counselling every week, and is even studying to be a real estate agent — something she has always wanted to do. Her daughter is much happier, has close friendships, and is doing well in school.

This is the kind of transformation I see in families when the enabling stops. It is nothing short of remarkable.


Remaining in active addiction is a choice.

Although there is definitely brain involvement in addiction of any kind, I see addiction primarily as a choice. That being said, I don’t believe that we choose to become addicts — I know I didn’t.

But in every addict’s life, including my own, there comes a time when we know without a doubt that our lives are a mess.

We see other people our age living differently, we understand that we seem to be unable to have healthy relationships with family and friends, and most of the time we go on welfare because we’re unable to hold down a job for very long.

Once the realization hits that our addictive behaviours are at the root of all of this, we find ourselves at a vitally important choice point: Will we remain in active addiction, or will we shift into some kind of active recovery? It becomes very clear that when addicts are continually rescued and enabled, it takes far longer for them to choose recovery.

Let’s face it — if addiction was not a choice, then I would not have 31+ years clean and sober, and neither would the other hundreds of thousands of addicts just like me, all over the world, who choose long-term sobriety — one day at a time, one choice at a time.

Addicts need their families to be part of the solution — they need their loved ones to say to them:

“We love you so much. We understand now that we’ve been enabling you, and we’re sorry to have hurt you in this way. Because we love you, we are going to stop enabling you. If you choose to stay in active addiction, we will not support you — that’s how much we love you and want to see you beat this. When you’re really ready for some help, let us know and we’ll do what we can for you. In the meantime, we are asking you to leave our home if you are going to choose to continue to use. This is because we love you and because we respect ourselves.”

Remember — it’s only when we stop the enabling, that we can stop the addiction.

If you’re the loved one of a practicing addict, I hope you will reach out for assistance to learn more about enabling. You are NOT powerless, and you canchange this for yourself and your family — forever.

Welcome to Tania’s blog



Sometimes it’s worthwhile to explore what something IS NOT to help us get a better understanding of WHAT IS. 

Let’s be clear about what Confidence IS NOT:

Confidence is not clothing

Confidence is not wealth

Confidence is not your employment position

Confidence is not an age

Confidence is a matter of degree – it’s not something you either have or not – you are somewhere on a scale ranging from the very negative to the very positive – from low confidence to high confidence.

Right now you are somewhere on the scale of zero to one hundred. Where do you feel you are on that scale, right now, today?

Now take a moment to ask yourself whether it might be profitable, worthwhile, desirable to move up the scale – to move in the direction of a more accurate, more valid, more honest appraisal of the real worth, value and talents you have?

Say YES if this sound like something you want. Go ahead, say it out loud to yourself, right now…YES!

Today we are going to start some exercises that will do just that – some simple techniques and methods you can put into action right away which will move you up the scale, in a more confident direction:

1 – Three Part First Impression

2 – Focus on your Strengths

3 – Practice Power Poses

First Impressions

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a bad handshake?

Handshakes have been around since the beginning of time – so how can so many people get something so simple so wrong?

You may think this is insignificant, until you start asking around – as I did – and you will find out, not only how many of us have experienced a bad handshake, but more importantly, how long we remember those “bad” handshakes.

In an instant, we are making an impression that has a very long shelf life. So, what kind of impression are you making?

Are you:

*the Controller – palm down asserting your dominance

*the Limp Finger – no authority or decision making power

*the Dead Fish – damp, clammy, screaming I’m nervous

*the Sandwich – the hug of handshakes – intimate – not to be done with strangers…it’s creepy

* the Bone Crusher – see you coming across the room, swinging down like a claw then the vice grip – insecure

Even if the above are not your story, it is important for you to understand the story behind the handshake of the person with whom you are about to communicate, interact or meet.

The Perfect Balance 

  • reach out with palm slightly up
  • make eye contact…straighten out the hand
  • full palm contact with wrapped fingers 
  • firm grip
  • gentle up and down
  • hold for three seconds

This one simple action – shaking hands with purpose and awareness – will boost you up on the confidence scale for two reasons: 

  1. knowing you have a confident handshake – makes you feel more confident
  2. you now have insight into the person with whom you are about to meet. This will help you communicate more effectively – knowledge fuels confidence

Say “Hello” First 

When you are the first one to initiate communication, you are instantly viewed as more confident. It’s just that simple.

And, whenever a name is easily displayed for you to see it…use it. In the grocery store, at the coffee shop, the restaurant, clothing store…the networking lunch.

Compliment Whenever you Can

Find a genuine compliment you can give others as you interact with people throughout your day. 

Clothes, hair, eyes, smile, efficiency, speed, friendliness…

Remember, compliments don’t always have to be verbal – a warm smile can be a beautiful compliment that can brighten up anyone’s day. – 

Compliments need to be a part of your everyday communication.

It raises the vibrations all around you. Confidence hovers above ground level. When you genuinely compliment someone you both rise to a new height. 

Start spending your time looking for ways to compliment others; constantly looking for what’s good, and you will start living in a more positive, confident place in your world. 

As you go out in the world today put this to the test:  

*shake hands with purposeful awareness 

*say ‘hello’ first with everyone you come in contact with and

  compliment others whenever you can 

*notice how it makes you feel and how it makes the people you

  meet today behave towards you.

Focus on Your Strengths

Our second confidence exercise is about learning to practise focusing on our strengths.

Draw a line down the middle of a page. On the left side I want you to write down your speaking skills which are already your “Greats”. 

Look at those skills, take them in, feel them, smile at your greatness. Now, with that feeling going on inside – on the right side write down the skills you want to “Be Better”. Keep smiling while you write them down, keep the good feeling going on.

Confidence craves progress – It does not aspire for perfection.

The trick here is to be specific so you know exactly, what you are wanting to improve. 

When your “Be Betters” become “Greats” move them over to the the left and give yourself room for more “Be Betters”.

This is a continually revolving list exchange. 

Take notice which word is not on this list “BAD”

There is no bad – only “Greats” and “Betters”.


Confidence Power Pose

The third part of our confidence exercise routine involves power poses. 

I’m sure you and most others are now familiar with what power poses can do for you. Amy Cuddy did a great job of spreading the word around in her TED Talk with more than 39 million views, as of February…last year…as of last month it’s at about 46 million views. There are mountains of research saying power poses reduces anxiety, improves your ability to deal with stress and boosts your confidence.

They increase your testosterone…decrease you cortisol.

I do them all the time…do you? If no…why not?

It’s one of the easiest, most convenient, readily available confidence boosters you will ever use.

I think there should be Booster Booths on every corner so you could just hop in, strike a few poses, get that confidence boost, and off you go to enjoy the rest of your fantastic day.

These three daily exercises:


1. First impression routine – confident handshake

    say ‘hello’ first

    genuinely compliment others

2. Focusing on your strengths – Be specific!

3. Power Pose yourself as many times a day as you can

Incorporate these simple exercises into your daily routine and enjoy sliding up the confidence scale.

Talk soon,






Tania Ehman's Blog


Public speaking is not a passive sport.

It is a high-powered performance sport! 

Race day is the moment you step onto your platform, wherever that may be – the boardroom – the podium – the stage – the classroom.

Like all athletes, you need a daily workout routine to keep yourself in shape for race day.

I like to call it ‘Stage Presence Bootcamp’. It’s the same as training for a triathlon but instead of swimming, biking and running your workout strengthens your confidence, charisma and connection to your listeners. 

Why is this important?

“90% of how well a talk will go is determined before the speaker steps on the platform.” Somers White, CAPE Speaker Hall of Fame

He’s talking about Stage Presence Preparation. The written speech/presentation is one dimensional. When it’s race day and you step onto your platform, you need to be ready to lift those words off the page, bring them to life, in a multi dimensional performance. 

This takes practice – daily practice.

Confidence and Charisma are your Performance Legs. Each one needs daily exercise to become strong enough to hold up the platform where your connection to your listeners comes alive.

In the next three Blogs you will find out how to exercise each one of those legs in order to create a firm foundation for your connection platform.