emotional-baggage LET’S TALK ABOUT….EMOTIONAL HOSTAGES!!! Do you ever find yourself “walking on eggshells” with a loved one? When jabs are made at your emotion, do you melt to the “guilt” level and allow yourself to be manipulated? Do you help your loved ones at the personal expense of compromising your beliefs and values—your “truth”?

If you answered “yes” to any, or all, of the above, you are probably being held hostage by an emotional terrorist.

As a substance abuse counselor, I am privy to observing this dynamic between families of adult children that have addictions. These “adults” set-up a hostage situation where, as soon as the adult with addiction takes on the role of emotional terrorist (ET), the parents, and other family members, become hostages.

There becomes a family dynamic of emotional blackmail: the ET threatens, either directly or indirectly, to punish the family if they don’t do what they want. The ET will use all the knowledge of what button to push to manipulate into compliance.

Dr. Susan Forward, “Emotional Blackmail” 1998; “Emotional Blackmail and FOG are about controlling people in relationships and the theory that fear, obligation or guilt (“FOG”) are the transactional dynamics at play between the controller and the person being controlled.”
ET’s are very proficient getting their hostages to sign off on their addictive behaviors. It is sometimes as simple as saying “I am thinking about going into treatment.” Family response (they heard “I am going into treatment”), “Great! What do you need to make that happen?” ET’s lie “I need to get cleaned up and rest before I check in…in a motel for a few nights.” Out comes the credit card. The ET now has a warm place to continue addictive behaviors for a few nights.



Warning signs to assess if you are an emotional hostage:

-The relationship is extremely draining on you;
-ET plays off your sense of duty, obligation, and guilt;
-If you say “no”, a crises or emergency is sure to follow–you reverse your decision;
-Being around the ET questions your own sanity, beliefs, and values;
-Your feelings and needs are trivialized;
-Even if you do nothing wrong, ET will twist situations so you are to blame;
-They will keep you captive with charm, praise and attention;
-They may threaten self-harm if you do not comply (immediately call 911 for help).



To release the shackles of the ET, set your-self free, and, possibly help your loved with addiction, examine your own truth:

-Be clear about what your value and belief system is;
-Say what you mean, and mean what you say: set clean, clear boundaries—AND STICK TO THEM;
-Understand that your addictive loved one is living in a different negative culture that parallel’s with your healthy culture—you are not obligated to support that lifestyle—let go with love.

Hostages are vulnerable to ETs because of the extent of the pain, shame, or blame they carry—particularly as family members. Truth gives shape, depth, and breadth to their pain, gives a clear picture of where they are emotionally, and presents an opportunity to reclaim personal power.


Of course, it is just my opinion.

Glad we talked.


Springfield Times

“Ask MAx” is published weekly in the Springfield Times, Springfield, OR. You can subscribe to the Springfield Times at


This column is reprinted on the internet at You can comment on this article and make suggestions for future columns, at

Or, snail mail your topics to Lifestyle Changes, PO Box 1962, Eugene, OR 97440.

Lifestyle Changes

ember, we always speak our truth from our hearts, with love.






LET’S TALK ABOUT….THE WALKING DEAD!!! While browsing my Hulu for a movie, I found one called “28 Days Later”. I thought it was a sequel to “28 Days”, a recovery movie made in 2000 starring Sandra Bullock, and, continues to be shown in most recovery treatment centers. Wrong!!

“28 Days Later” is a post-apocalyptic “thriller”. It didn’t take long for me to discover that it was a film about infected humans infecting other humans. The plot is about the breakdown of society caused by an accidental release of a contagious virus that leads to the destruction of life as we presently know it.


The movie started a franchise of “Zombie” movies and TV shows that has a large cult following. “Zombies”, in case you didn’t know, are reanimated corpses that virally infect other human beings.

Very shortly into the movie the TV was off. I didn’t sleep for a couple nights. My mind kept searching for how anyone could come up with such a gruesome idea.

Then, I met up with a friend in a restaurant in a very seedy part of town, across from a park well known to be open to drug abusers. The windows looked right into the center of the park allowing a full view of the goings on: people selling drugs, people using drugs, people walking around like…like ZOMBIES!

My imaginary mind over flowed into my professional mind: “Zombies” now made sense.


Zombies are real and they are infecting our society as we know it.


Sorry, the term “drug addict” is no longer Politically Correct (PC): ZOMBIES ARE PEOPLE THAT ABUSE DRUGS—specifically heroin, methamphetamine, and opioids. Zombies strive to turn “others” into Zombies.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) stated in January, 2016, that “The abuse of and addiction to opioids such as heroin, morphine, and prescription pain relievers is a serious global problem that affects the health, social, and economic welfare of all societies. It is estimated…1]2.1 million people in the United States suffering from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers…an estimated 467,000 addicted to heroin.The consequences of this abuse have been devastating and are on the rise.”

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that heroine related overdose deaths have risen 286% since 2002. Did I mention that “28 Days Later” was released in 2002?

Those infected, infect others starting in the teen years.


Heroin use is part of a larger substance abuse problem that innocently starts with alcohol and marijuana. For those that already have mental health issues, the infection can quickly grow to giving up the human soul for Zombie fictitious mortality.

The CDC studies have shown: “People who are addicted to…
Alcohol are 2 times more likely to become addicted to heroin.
Marijuana are 3 times more likely to become addicted to heroin.
Cocaine are 15 times more likely to become addicted to heroin..
Prescription opioid painkillers are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin.”

At a minimum heroin, methamphetamine, and opioids will turn you into Zombies infecting others and changing society as we know it today.


Glad we talked about this. Of course, it is just my opinion.OPINION_____________________________________________________________________

healertoday-logo-smYou can comment on this article and make suggestions for future columns at Or, snail mail your topics to Lifestyle Changes, PO Box 1962, Eugene, OR 97440.


Springfield Times

Ask MAx” is published weekly in the Springfield Times, Springfield,OR. You can subscribe to the Springfield Times at


            Learn more about MAx Fabry at

Lifestyle Changes