How to Create Boundaries during the Holidays & Not Fall in to the Co-dependency.

Nov 19, 2021

The Only Podcast Designed For THE FAMILIES Of Those Struggling With Addiction & Co-dependency. 

If addiction has rocked your household and you don't know where to turn to get support, then this podcast was built for you. 

Our host has written the book on how families can navigate this scary world of addiction.

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Now here is your host: author, therapist and CEO of the Chronic Hope Institute, Kevin Petersen. 

Danny: Well, hello and welcome everyone. My name is Danny Colella. We are live today on the Chronic Hope Podcast Episode 21: How to Create Boundaries during the Holidays; and not fall in to the co-dependency. 

Who is this video and who is this podcast for today? Well this is for you. If you're wondering, if you have anxiety about how the holidays are going to go this year, how is Thanksgiving going to go, how is Christmas going to go? Is my loved one going to ruin it again? Do you have tons of anxiety coming up to the holidays? Well then this podcast today was built for you. 

But before we get started, I want to introduce the man behind all of this, Mr Kevin Petersen. So Kevin, go ahead and introduce yourself and talk about the mission of the Chronic Hope Institute and why we exist. 

Kevin: Absolutely! Thanks Danny. Hi, my name is Kevin Petersen. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist.

I'm the owner and founder of the Chronic Hope Institute and I am the author of Chronic Hope: Parenting the Addicted Child and Chronic Hope: Families & Addiction

Also, I was raised in a family of addiction; I became an addict. I got sober. Then I went back to school and got a Masters' degree in marriage and family therapy. So I'm a mental health professional. So I like to think I can see this from all angles. 

And the mission of the Chronic Hope Institute is just, quite simply, to bring as much health and education and information as possible to families that are struggling with addiction and co-dependency. 

Danny: I love it. Yeah, so if that's you out there, meaning you have someone in your life who is struggling with addiction, possibly robbing your happiness; and you want to figure out how to get them they help they need but also how to help yourself. You need to know that this whole mission is designed for you, the family members. 

There are tons of programs (we know) out there and tons of treatment models, Kevin, for those who are affected by addiction, but oftentimes the families get missed from the education level of: What does it take to clearly move through this problem, when this person in your life might be making it so you feel like you don't have any normalcy, you don't have any control. 

And before we even go further, we just want to say to you: "You’re not alone", right? Kevin, how many people have you helped over the last 25 years, if you had to guess?

Kevin: Well... [Laughs]

Danny: Over two thousand. Over ... just a number.

Kevin: Yeah, I would say thousands. Thousands and thousands. Because you know, here's the thing, for every addict and every addict or alcoholic - whether they're using or in recovery, they have anywhere from two to five people surrounding them. And so ... gosh.

That's really what it comes down to, is understanding that the family system needs as much, if not more help than the individual does struggling with addiction. 

Danny: Yeah, great. So let's get into today's content because we really wanted to really help you with some tangible things. Again, we're going to talk about: Have you had the conversation with the loved one in your life? What are the appropriate things to set as boundaries during the holidays? 

And lastly, we're going to let you know if you are continuing to fall into what we call "the co-dependency trap". Going back to the old ways of doing things, to where you need to make everyone happy and make sure that everyone has a great holiday - and guess who you're missing? You. So we're going to talk to you today as well. 

So Kevin, let's stop right in the content today. The first thing that we want to talk about is: Somebody out there who hasn't even yet had the conversation with the addict in their life. Again, addict can mean 16 years old, 13 years old. It can mean 65 years old. It can mean male or female. We're not specifically talking about any age range. 

But we're going to talk about the things that are acceptable and unacceptable to ask during the holidays, but talk to the person that hasn't even had the conversation yet. Okay? 

Kevin: Right. So I mean, this is a real common theme that comes up with the families that I have worked with; like you said, over the last twenty or thirty years. You know, now it's November 1st.

We have survived Halloween, which is always no small feat. But we're starting to look at Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years' Eve... and then, quite honestly, it rolls all the way through to Valentine's Day, when we start talking about families that are struggling with addiction and co-dependency. 

So, how do we have the conversation? How do we figure out what we've got to do? 

First things first is always to sit down and figure out what it is you're comfortable with. When I say you, I don't mean the entire family. That you're going to try to read everybody's mind and figure out what they want. Okay, that's falling back into that co-dependency trap of trying to figure everything out for everybody else. 

I'm talking about: I'm hosting at my house, Thanksgiving. What am I okay with? What am I comfortable with? What are going to be the boundaries, and how am I going to make that clear and concise and communicate that to everybody within the family? 

So that's the first step. 

Danny: Yeah. So Kev, what would you say to somebody - because what we know is that there's people that are hearing this and they're like "Okay, great. I'm going to come up with a list of things that are acceptable for me for the holidays. I'm going to say what's right and what I will accept and what I won't accept".

But then there's a whole group of people out there - and there is no judgment here - that are dealing with resentment. They're not even in a stage where they're like "You know, I want to tell them they can't even come here because I don't want them to drink here. I don't want them to use drugs here. They can only come here if they're clean". 

But that person is in the stage of resentment. They're mad! They're like "I don't want this person to come because they're going to ruin things for me. They did it last year. They did it the year before".

And they're just in this resentment phase of not actually even getting to the point where they can have that conversation. They could even be wondering "I hope this person doesn't come around, because if they do, they're going to ruin everything". And they're not saying a word, but deep inside their soul they feel that resentment. 

Kevin: Yes.

Danny: So for that person that's deep in resentment, what would you say to them to kind of help them know that they can have a solution for the holiday season?

Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. That's a great point, you know. What I would say to that person is: Look, you know, again... The first step to solving that, getting rid of that resentment and taking care of yourself is the declaring what you're comfortable with and what you're not comfortable with; and saying "Hey. I am not going to be okay with people doing X, Y, Z". 

Whether it's "I am not going to be okay with anybody drinking", "I am not going to be okay with anybody getting drunk", "I am not going to be okay with this behaviour" etcetera, etcetera. 

Making it super, super clear to everybody. Setting that boundary right off the bat and clearing it out ahead of time; like here - three weeks before Thanksgiving, saying: "Dinner is going to be at 2pm, this is the deal and I want to make it clear. This is what the rules and regulations are going to be". 

But then there's also got to be enforcement, right? And you've got to be able to tell the family members: "Hey look, if this happens, I'm going to ask you to leave". If you're living in what you're describing, Danny - if you're living in a family system where this is an active issue, where previous things and previous holidays have been destroyed by peoples' behavior surrounding drinking and drugs; then you need to declare it upfront and say: "Hey. This is not going to happen. We're not going to have this. If it does, we're going to ask you to leave".

And it's very straightforward and very clear and concise, even to the point where even if we think that you maybe -- You show up and we think you have been drinking or think you've been using, we're going to ask you to go. We're going to tell you "No. You're not welcome here". "We love you, but the answer is no". 

So what's that got to do with the resentment that you asked about? What that has to do with the resentment is taking care of yourself. Okay? Not doing the people pleasing. Not doing the enabling. Not doing the crisis management of trying to make everything okay for everybody else.

Because that's where the resentment comes from; is that I'm hosting everybody at my house, I'm having everybody come here and nobody is willing to be respectful of my home and the effort and the time that I am making. And so it's about clearly communicating that. 

What we're also talking about - and this is another avoiding the co-dependency trap moment is not being afraid of the uncomfortable conversation - because that's another thing people do. It's like "Well, I don't want to get everyone mad" and "I don't want people to get upset" and "If I say those things, they won't come" and "Oh, I don't cause want to cause a problem"... but then that's where the resentment shows up because it's like "Well, you know, hey! You're not being kind to me. You're not being respectful of me."

The way you avoid that is by being clear and concise upfront and telling them what the expectations are. And whether they're drinking, sober, newly sober, kind of sober or whatever; you just lay down the law and tell them "This is what's up" and "If you want to come here, these are the rules and regulations" and "If you don't want to come, that's okay too. We'll totally respect your wishes". 

Danny: Yeah, great point. We wanted to make sure for that person that is sitting in resentment, they'd have no clue. They've heard you say all that Kev. Because some of you will enforce this. You think it's a refresher for you. You're thinking "Okay. Yes. I'm going to get back to this. I'm going to do it". But some of you are like "Great, but I don't even know where to start". 

So Kevin, you talked about a great way to start is in your book. Which book, by the way? Parenting the Addicted Child or Families & Addiction?

Kevin: In Chronic Hope: Families & Addiction, I think it's Chapter Three, page 55. I think it's creating --

Danny: There's Dining Plan A, boundaries, accountability and consequences. That's a great part for that person to start, right? They can dive right in, skip right to page 55 if you're just looking for a real tangible solution to the problem ahead of you. Of course, we'd encourage you to read the entire book. 

But if you're looking for "Hey, how do I do the things that you're saying Kevin? It sounds so easy coming out of your mouth" - download the book! We're going to have a link in this video -- 

Kevin: Yeah! 

Danny: -- in the description that's going to allow you to download both of Kevin's books: Parenting the Addicted Child and Families & Addictionabsolutely free. So we want to make sure that you have that information and you can get that information. 
So let's move on to step two, Kevin. So you've communicated boundaries. Now it's time to enforce, okay? Because one part that you've always said is: Okay, it's great. That's a huge step to at least advocate for yourself and say "This is what I'm going to accept", but if we know anything -- 

-- And we just had a conversation before going live. I have a three year old. Our children, for some reason, need to figure out how to break through the boundaries that we make and break through the walls that we create - it's like they're programmed to do - or the loved one in our life. 

But how do they enforce it? What's the appropriate thing to communicate to the addict and what's acceptable and unacceptable this holiday season?

Kevin: Absolutely. So we're in the second step here, which is the accountability function - because every family I work with will basically say the same thing. You know, "Oh, we've tried boundaries. They don't work" and I always say: "Well, I don't understand what you mean by that. They don't work. What do you mean?" 

"Well, we told them what the boundary was and they just went ahead and did it anyway" and I said "Okay. Well how did you enforce it? How did you hold them accountable?" And they just kind of give me a blank stare like "Okay. We weren't ready for that". So that's where the second step comes from, which is accountability. 

And so when I say accountability, so let's just use the example of I'm hosting Thanksgiving at my house. I have got people in my family that are in recovery, that are struggling with recovery or actively drinking and using - and I am going to invite everybody. 

So what I am going to do is tell them: "This is when it is. Dinner is at 2 'o clock on Thursday the 25th of November (Thanksgiving) - and here is the boundary. There is going to be no drinking and there's going to be no alcohol. There are no drugs and no alcohol in the house, or accepted at the house, and if you show up and I suspect that you have been using any of those things, I am going to ask you to leave". 

So, how do I hold them accountable? How do I enforce that? Well, there's a couple of different ways. One is you just ask when they show up if you have a suspicion. You know, if you feel like somebody's behavior is awkward or uncomfortable or out of line, then you've just got to say: "Hey man, have you been drinking or using?" Because you know, "Again, it's okay if you have. That's your choice. I am going to respect your choices, but you're going to have to respect my choice not to have you here at this time."


That's number one. Number two is you can actually get a breathalyser and a drug test kit if you want to. I mean, if you really feel like that's necessary. Because a lot of times people are like "Well yeah, they're just going to lie to me". I'm like "Oh okay, cool. Well then, you know, if you feel like someone's behavior is out of line and it's destroying the dinner or destroying the family environment, then you just pull them aside and say "Hey. Come over here. I need you to fill this up for me and let me know what's going on".

I mean, look. Trust me. I know that sounds ridiculously drastic! But you also have to understand that that's where we're at, right? This person is here and they're destroying the Thanksgiving. They're destroying the event. So what you've got to do is then turn around and stand up to that and say: "Hey. I told you ahead of time this was the boundary and this is how I'm going to hold you accountable". 

So there's the drug testing, there's asking them and just being really super clear and concise. So that's the second step. 

Danny: Yeah, and for anybody that's thinking out there: "Okay, yeah. The drug test is drastic"... is this something that they communicate with their family member ahead of time, or is this something that they just wait for their loved one to walk through the door and they say: "You look drunk. Pee in this". 

What's the difference in those two scenarios of "I'm going to tell my loved one that if you come in drunk I'm going to test you" and what's the different outcome if they walk through the door and you say: "You look drunk or you're using. Pee in this". What's the difference between those two?

Kevin: Well, I think it's always important to be super clear ahead of time and tell everybody what the expectations are so nobody is surprised. I think it's also really important how you communicate it. If you communicate it with a very punishing, angry, shaming perspective, you're going to get a lot of push back or it's going to make people feel bad.

So the way I would communicate it would just be: "Hey. I just want to let you know this is when Thanksgiving is. This is your assignment and you need to bring the sweet potato casserole with the melted marshmallows on top." Always my favourite! "

And by the way, this year we're going to do a totally sober Thanksgiving - and I am telling you ahead of time. And if that's not something you're comfortable with, that's okay. I will respect your wishes. But this is how we're going to do things". 

I would only say give people a couple of weeks' notice, at least two or three weeks’ notice, and let them know what the plan is - and just make it super simple and straight forward! Not make it in a negative fashion, like "There's not going to be any drugs or alcohol in this house because you people are stupid and you can't behave!" No. We're just going to say: "Hey. Just want to let you know this year these are the rules and regulations. This is how we're going to do it". 

And I would say "And if I feel like you're not following the rules, I'm going to ask you to leave". I am always big about transparency. One of my favourite catch phrases is "consistency, accountability and transparency". I think the transparency is just so critical to just let everybody know ahead of time: "This is what the expectations are. So there's no confusion when it comes to the moment."

Danny: And I can imagine you see that a lot with the families that you work with. They're not communicating these things.

They're just keeping them up in their mind. This is you, if you're running through scenarios in the past of "Man, I wish I would have done this in that scenario" or "I wish I would have done that" or "If they do that to me again, I'm going to do this". 

This means that you're just waiting for somebody to do something that's going to upset you, but it probably means, Kevin, that you're not expressing what the actual boundaries or rules are. Right?

Kevin: Yeah! Yeah, that's the thing man. You know, well you were talking about your kids. You know, kids rise to the level of expectations. So when we say kids, let's be clear. You can be 35 and be a kid.

So if you tell them ahead of time what the expectation is, the odds are they're going to follow through with it. But if you surprise them or at the last second you're like: "Last minute notice! No alcohol!", you're putting people in an awkward position and creating a little bit more drama than is necessary. 

So I think it's important that you just tell everybody ahead of time: "This is what's up. This is where we're headed. This is what's going on. We want you here. We love you. You're a part of the family (whether you're blood relations or not). We want you here". It's more about that family is a state of mind, you know? 

And "We want you to be a part of our family on this important day to us. However, we have some have some expectations of our family and this is how we're going to celebrate. So please respect our wishes." And I think it's just critical to tell people ahead of time. That way they feel like they're also included in part of the decision making process.

Danny: Yeah. We've got a viewer comment. The one thing you need to know about the Chronic Hope podcast, the reason that we do it live, is because we want to make sure if there's a family member that's in a vulnerable situation or they want access to real valuable information; they can. 

But Molly said something very simple, that trust is a big issue. Just trust. 

Kevin: Yeah.

Danny: And again, talk to that person that even has trouble getting to the point where -- Molly, we feel you. When you have been lied to, stolen from or that person deep in their addiction did things to you that you can't have that trust anymore... Talk about how you work with families who are dealing with that to say: "Look. I know you're telling me I need to give some trust back, but I can't because of X, Y, Z.". Kind of talk to that family. 

Kevin: Sure! That's a great one and thank you Molly for your question and your contribution. I really appreciate that. You know, yeah. Trust is always the biggest issue. Trust is earned, right? And so, that's why I think it's so critical and important to be clear ahead of time and tell people what the expectations are. 

The other side of that, too, is the old phrase: "We're going to trust, but we're going to verify. I'm going to trust you that you're going to follow the rules, but if I feel like you show up and I feel like Hmmm... You know, this isn't working" and obviously we're talking about a family system where there's probably active addiction going on and inappropriate behavior. 

Then there's nothing wrong with just saying: "Hey, you know what? I have a breathalyser and we have a drug test - and we'd like you to use those. If you can't pass them, we're not going to get mad at you. We're not going to belittle you. We're not going to shame you. But we are going to ask you to leave, because you were told ahead of time that this is one of the conditions of the holiday and we'd like you to respond to our conditions". 

So I think that's just really important. That's how you build trust. And the thing is - the boundary doesn't mean anything if you're not wanting to hold them accountable.

If you're not willing to enforce it, then don't bother with boundaries, because it's just talk and you've got to be able to hold them. 

Danny: Yeah. Again, we know this is multifaceted. We're trying to help, we want to give you information. Kevin has given you a clear blueprint of what he has learned over thirty years that it's going to help people understand "This is what works". Because Kevin, in your own life, we have covered this many times. 

Kevin: Yeah.

Danny: But this could be somebody hearing it for the first time. In every situation, also, that we've heard, it's when families finally said "We have had enough". That's when the real rubber hits the pavement. That's when the addict of a person that's actively using in your life finally feels like "Wow!” It feels like they're actually following through with this now. 

"Wait, my mom just told me not to come home and then I went and just stayed at my friend's house that I always do for a couple of days and then whenever I come back she's not mad anymore and I just walk right in and everything's okay". It's when the two days pass and that person is actively using in your life, you come home and you ask them a couple set of questions of: "Are you high? Have you used drugs or alcohol?"

And if you feel like they're lying to you or they haven't, and they won't take a drug test, then they don't come back and that's when someone finally realizes - right, Kev? - That "Wow! This is different" and it's got to be. 

Kevin: Yeah. Well, I'll just say it from my personal experience. In 1990, that's when my dad laid it down and said "Hey, man. You're my only son and I love you, but the game is over. You're an alcoholic and a drug addict, a liar, a cheat and a thief and we're tired of your drama ruining our family events.

So going forward, you will not be welcome at family events unless we tell you differently. Unless you choose a lifestyle of sobriety"

You know, look. I had heard this before. I mean, the number of times that I'd had "the talk" from them and from girlfriends and buddies and jobs. I was like, "Yeah, whatever". You know?


The difference was this time they held their ground and they enforced it and they were clear and concise that until I changed my ways I was not welcome. What they had done is changed the family system; to no longer enable me and to no longer allow me to destroy the family system. 

So when they held their ground, that's when they got my attention and I am like "Okay. What do I have to do?" They said "Well, you've got to do this sobriety thing and you have got to start seeing a therapist with your father and we've got to start having communication about what's going on here". And that's what led me on my journey to getting sober on May 5th, 1991. I am eternally grateful because without that I wouldn't be here today, you know? 

Danny: Yeah. We've heard that story again. Being in this industry, we've heard that story over and over and over and over. I have interviewed people that have had five years' sober and they remember the moment where their parents finally, finally, kept true to their boundaries and they didn't know what to do or where to turn. Yeah, they went out on the street for a little while and eventually they thought "Well, maybe this is something I should do because I don't have any other options". 

Kevin: Yeah.

Danny: I want to bring up a good movie, too. Have you seen that movie Four Good Days yet, Kevin?

Kevin: No! What's this?

Danny: It's a great one to watch. Here is your homework to go watch it. What's beautiful about it is I love when Hollywood decides to make a movie on something. What you need to understand is this is a global problem. 

So if you're on the other side of this lens or this podcast and you're thinking "This doesn't seem to be happening to any one of my friends. This doesn't seem to be happening to anybody that know. Why is this happening to me?" Well, when Hollywood spends tons of money to create a movie for people just like you, you need to know that it's hitting the vein a little harder than you think. 

But there's a great opening clip in this movie where the mom, her daughter who's a drug addict who is Mila Kunis by the way -- In this movie she is almost unrecognizable because she's in active addiction. So they did a good job at showing what active addiction looks like. It takes from you. Her teeth are a little messed up. 

But she comes back home to mom who has obviously been working a program for a while... and it's just great for you as somebody that doesn't know what to do or where to start to watch the opening clip of this movie because it really shows the mom holding her ground. It really shows the mom saying "No. You've done this before" and it's just really good for you, again, as someone --

-- We cater to those who don't know what to do. Like if you've got a clear plan and you're owning your life and your person in recovery is just rocking it, high five! Right, Kev? We love that. We love that you're there.

But what we know is that there are millions of you that are hiding in the dark and don't know where to start and don't know where to begin and don't even know how to try boundaries. We created the Chronic Hope Institute for you.

So if that's you, just know you're in the right place and we're trying our best to make sure we give you the information you need. Yeah. Watch that clip because that's a great place to start to see somebody else put this into tangible -- Because I know Kevin, when you watch it, because I am in the industry as well, you'll be like "Wow! In that moment, I was so proud of that mom. She just held her ground" 

Kevin: Yeah!

Danny: She knew what she would accept and wouldn't accept - and when you see it in Hollywood, it makes a lot of sense. 

Kevin: I can't wait! I would say probably along the same is there was a movie that came out recently called Hillbilly Elegy where a young man who's mom was the addict -- and he finally started drawing boundaries with her and just saying "That's it! I just can't keep letting you ruin my life". When he did that --- The hard part was he had to watch her really go down the well, you know? But that's the thing. When you draw that line and hold that line -- 

I mean, I'll tell you. I have thirty years sober and everybody I know that has long term sobriety has the exact same story. "When my family said no and they held their ground, that's when I started paying attention". 


Danny: Yeah. So pay attention to that because these are important things for you to know. And again, we think you're brave. We know it's scary. At any point, if you ever need help doing this, just know that Kevin and his team at the Chronic Hope Institute are ready to walk alongside you. If you can do it on your own, great. But if you keep struggling and you can't get it done, get some professional help, because it's going to help you get on that path. 

So far we've talked about starting to talk about the boundaries. Have you even talked about the boundaries of your loved one for the holidays?

If it's all in your noggin and you haven't shared it with anyone else, how is anyone going to know what to do? And you're just waiting for something to go wrong. 

We've talked about what's acceptable and unacceptable. Drug testing could be a thing that you need to do during the holiday season so that person knows: If I come, and I am drunk or using, I'm not welcome anymore" and that's okay. And lastly, we want to talk about this thing we kind of coined that you call "the co-dependency trap".

Kevin: Yeah.

Danny: Can you talk a little bit about what the co-dependency trap is and what that looks like in everyday life.

Kevin: Sure! So it's sort of something I came up with working with the families that are my clients and that I engage with. It's when they fall back into the co-dependent behavior, the enabling, the people pleasing, the problem solving; the crisis management. Because what they're effectively doing is avoiding the conflict. 


Holding boundaries and holding people accountable will create some conflict and some stress and some tension and some anxiety. So I say the co-dependency trap is when you're like "Oh, I don't want to do that. They're going to get mad at me. It's going to create a thing. I don't want to have a thing." 

But then what happens is you let that stuff in the room and then the bomb goes off. Right? If you would have held your boundaries ahead of time and not fallen back into the co-dependency trap, which is sort of that "Oh well, this is just easier." This is what we call the easier softer way. If you would just hold your boundaries in the front, you wouldn't fall back into that co-dependency trap.

And it'll also be signalling and sending the message across to the family system that "We're not doing this anymore and we're going to be healthy and we're going to have good boundaries" and "It's because we love everybody". And "We're not going to let addiction and alcoholism take over the family system and we're not going to let them ruin the holidays". That's over with. 

And so, I think I've answered your question, but how do we not fall back into the co-dependency trap? Well, what is the co-dependency trap? The co-dependency trap is falling back into the old system and the old ways because it's easier and you're avoiding conflict. 

Right. You could be exhausted, you could be tired. You could say: "Look, I've tried this. I'm out of energy" and then you just fall back into -- It could look like sometimes not caring. It could look like you said as well, Kevin, people pleasing... meaning: "Well, I want to do a breathalyser when he comes here, but then uncle John's going to wonder why we're doing a breathalyser and he's going to -- " and the point is you're so worried about everyone else. 

If that's you, you're a wonderful person - first. I want to let you know that. You're an amazing human being with a huge heart! But what you need to understand is that the people that love you the most; they know how to take advantage of that. They know how to get their way. Yes. Someone in active addiction will use every emotion and every good quality that you have to their advantage and to get what they want.

So you need to know that it's not about the people pleasing. For once in your life - and this where, Kev, we talk all the time and I think sometimes people get confused with this... because you tell families "It's time to engage in your own recovery". 

So talk about what the difference looks like from somebody maybe you've worked with for a year to somebody that's coming in and what that recovery looks like and how differently it is for each of those two people. 

Kevin: Well, I would say sticking with this concept and this topic is the person that we've been working with for a year or so has had the opportunity to hold the boundaries, hold people accountable and change the family system and go through that uncomfortable conversation and maybe go through a little bit of a conflict environment - and they have realized that they can come out on the other side. What's on the other side is there's less drama and less anxiety and less chaos - and a more enjoyable holiday period. 

And for the person that's new, that's just walked in the door and is like "Oh my god, you've got to help me out. Here is what's coming"... what we can do is we can definitely plan or help them plan and say "Well, okay. Let's put a plan and sort of an adjusting case plan and an action plan". We're going to tell everybody ahead of time what we're going to do and how we're going to do it. You know? 

What I want to do is just give you some very concrete steps. One, two, three, four. "Do this, do this, do this" and "Take care of yourself. Set your boundaries. Read my books and read Codependent No More by Melody Beattie and just hold your ground and just know that everything's going to be okay." 

Because what it really comes down to is: You know what it's going to be like if you let everybody show up using and drinking. And you've just told me that's not what you want. So you know what that looks like. There is an alternative.

There is alternative of holding your ground and holding your boundaries and putting the needs of the entire family system first and putting you first and saying: "We're not going to do this anymore. We're going to do things differently". 

And trust me, there's going to be some pushback, but it's actually really awesome and it goes really, really well. 

Danny: Yeah. I mean, in community it seems so counterproductive. Why would I want to sit around other people that I don't even know and talk about my problems? Why would I want to do that? Well, because you're not going to feel so alone. You're not going to feel like no one else's kids are doing this, no one else's husband is doing this, no one else's wife is doing this. 

But for us, the two that you see on the screen in this podcast or on the other side of the screen, we know it's rampant. It's happening! The amount of people that are in these groups on a daily, weekly, basis; that are just there to support. What you need to know about these groups, these recovery groups like Al Anon, is there's people that have been in recovery for five, six, ten, twenty years... and the only reason they show up every day to these meetings is because they want to have a solution for you when you walk through the door.

Isn't that how it works, Kev?

Kevin: Absolutely. I mean, that's absolutely one of the statements that we say; is that our primary purpose is to stay sober or "stay sane" as it may be; and to help the next person get to recovery. That's how this works.


I am here because when I showed up thirty years ago there were people in the room saying: "Hey. Sit down, son. We've got you", you know? And the same thing when I went to Al Anon and the same thing when I went to Adult Children of Alcoholics. There were people in the room that were like: "Hey, I got you. Come here, sit down. It's going to be okay. Let me show you the way". 

Danny: Fantastic. So for the codependency trap, I heard you say one of the big homework assignments -- And this isn't your book. You do have great information in your book, but you love Codependent No More. 

Kevin: Yup.

Danny: It's a book that you would encourage somebody who knows "Hey, I people please. Yes, I do whatever's easiest for everyone else. I don't want conflict. But my loved one is out there and my loved one is drinking or using or ruining holidays". At the end of the day, deep your core, you're like: "I don't want them to die. I don't want something bad to happen. I don't want them to ruin their lives". 

Well, as hard as it seems maybe now... because you're going to have a different view in a year - when you break that and let everybody know in your life you're serious; it's a much different life.

Kevin: Absolutely. Absolutely. There is a better way.

Danny: Yeah. And if -- What we are doing for a limited time only, whether you're watching this podcast live or you're watching this Facebook live or in the replay, is both of Kevin's books: Chronic Hope: Parenting the Addicted Child and Chronic Hope: Families & Addiction...

For a limited time, we're giving those away absolutely free in a PDF version. We want you to have those. We want you to have access to the information that you need to kind of work through this problem.

And all we're going to ask in return is we have been getting hundreds of people that have been anonymously letting us know the questions that they have. We want to know from you. What struggles are you really having? Because when you share that question with us that's going on in your life, it allows us to start creating structure and things around ways we can help you get through what you're going through. 

So both the copies of the books are absolutely free. You'll see the link in the description. And go get those books! Get started at least having them in your arsenal to start educating yourself on what this looks like. 

Kevin: Yeah!

Danny: Kevin, for anyone with the holidays, any final words? Any words of encouragement?

Kevin: Yeah! You know, the holidays can be wonderful! I mean, I'm going to tell you something. I got sober in May of 1991 and Thanksgiving and Christmas were absolutely wonderful in my family because we just declared that it was going to be no drugs and no alcohol. And for the first time, we all had a lot of fun. You know? 

I mean, we were nervous and there was anxiousness. We didn't know what to do with it. But you know, at the time same, we were all sober and we all had a great time! And it works! I mean, the message is: This works. This system works. The stuff in my book works. The stuff in Codependent No More works. You know? 

And, like you just said, we're here to support you. You know, yes, there's my books and yes you can work with the people on our practice in Denver and Jacksonville Beach and nationally; and we have tons of videos and we have tons of podcasts all on the website, where you can reference things and get questions answered and take a look at it. 

And like you said, right now we're offering both books for free! And you just have to download it and answer a couple of questions anonymously. By the way, that's a part of the Chronic Hope Institute mission - is giving out as much information as possible and resources as possible for free. 100% no questions asked. FOR FREE. 

Obviously we're a business and we want to see things go, but at the end of the day, we're never going to say no to someone. So we always have options for people for free.

Danny: Yeah. And you can find those on the YouTube channel if you want to search the Chronic Hope Institute. Everything you need to find is pretty much at the bottom of the website at If you want to watch last podcast episodes, you can also find those as well. 

So Kevin, thanks again for your time today. We really hope this holiday season for you out there who are struggling ... We just had Molly Brown comment. "Thank you. This is a marathon. I appreciate the info and direction". 

Thank you, Molly, for being a part of this community. We appreciate you especially for chiming in. 

So Kevin, thanks for the input today. Thanks for adding value to anybody struggling this holiday season. Stay tuned for our next podcast episode, Episode 22, coming to you soon. Thanks Kev! 

Kevin: Okay. Talk to you later, Danny. Thank you. 

Thank you for listening to the Chronic Hope Institute podcast, with your host, Kevin Petersen. Please join us again next time. We exist to provide support, education and hope for families who are struggling with addiction and codependency.

Remember to connect with us on Facebook, as well subscribe to the Chronic Hope Institute podcast on YouTube, Spotify, Apple or wherever you listen to podcasts. See you again soon! 

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