Family support important for recovering addicts

For National Recovery Month, PNC spoke with recovering addict Jesse Mendiola on ways to cope instead of smoking dope.

With relapse to drug addiction estimated to be about 38 percent nationally as a result of the stress caused by the pandemic, the families of those addicts are equally stressed as they watch their loved ones slip back into drug addiction. PNC speaks with recovering addict Jesse Mendiola on how these family members can continue to support their loved ones.

Relapse was a recurrent theme for Jesse Mendiola when he first began the journey towards sobriety and giving up the pipe. But he says you can’t think about sobriety in an environment that will continue to pull you down.

“You can’t think about things like that in an environment that is going to continuously try to pull you down. Addicts have the propensity to make it all about themselves. We are the most narcissistic individuals you could find because we can manipulate things and twist them and turn them into what we want, how we want it and the way we want it. That way when it finally doesn’t turn our way, we end blaming the world for our problems and not taking responsibility,” Mendiola said.

He added: “Now mark my words, I guarantee that through this pandemic there will be many addicts out there that actually find who they really are through this pandemic because this pandemic will give them no other choice but to either stand up on their own two feet and take responsibility for their actions or they’re going to succumb to it all.”

If the individual succumbs, Mendiola says that person is not ready to make the change. Family members should not place the burden of their loved ones’ addiction on their shoulders. He says family members need to focus on themselves and let the addict pull from their own strength to stand on their own two feet.

Mendiola says tough love is necessary when dealing with an addict and they shouldn’t be babied. Listen to their cries for help by being honest and real, don’t enable the addict’s behavior, he said.

“The best thing my folks ever did was hang up that phone when I asked them to bail me out and that’s something that I had to deal with and learn. See, a lot of people don’t realize how strong they really are and they don’t give themselves enough credit for the amount of strength that they carry. They just need to tap into that strength,” Mendiola says.

He added: “When my mother cut that purse string and no longer financed my drug habit. You know because I used all my money on drugs and she no longer financed it. All she had to do was continuously be strong and say no and eventually that outlet for me would have been closed and I would have got somewhere else or got on my own two feet.”

{Mendiola has been sober for over four years and shares that the road to recovery was difficult at first but because his family did not enable him, he was able to come to a point of realization that the drug life isn’t what he wants. But there has to be a catalyst, and for Mendiola, it was the death of his father.

“I did relapse since I have been out of prison. In the last four and a half years, no I haven’t. There’s one thing my counselor from the Lighthouse had taught me. She said in order for me to change, I only have to change one thing. And it sounds so simple, right? Change one thing! Qhat could I possibly change? Her response was ‘Everything’,” Mendiola said.



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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.