Addiction can take a heavy toll on family members, leaving you emotionally drained and struggling to find the energy you need to support your loved one in their recovery. Below, we have listed a few ways that you can deal with the difficulties faced when helping someone overcome addiction.
It’s not easy to support someone who has an addiction as this can cause knock-on problems within the family where issues of trust, blame and communication develop over time. Connecting with people who are in similar situations through support groups and meet-ups can help you feel less isolated and begin to understand that you don’t have to deal with this alone. In these non-judgemental spaces, you can talk to and hear from people who can empathise with your situation and offer help, advice and compassion.
Look After Yourself
Remember that you are responsible for your own happiness, so try to save some energy for past times and hobbies that bring you joy and help you to relax. Whether this is gardening, cooking, playing sports or even volunteering – this time that is focused away from the addiction will be rewarding and give you the emotional space that you need to carry on in a tough situation. Don’t feel guilty taking time for yourself when your family is going through a difficult patch as your mental health is just as important as anyone else’s.
Get Some Exercise
Exercise is a powerful tool to reduce stress, manage anxiety and depression and release endorphins. When you are trying to support a family member through recovery, you’re likely to be going through an emotional rollercoaster of stress, anger, worry and frustration but you can combat these with exercise. Go for a run or try a boxing class to relieve anger, practice yoga to reduce stress or play a team sport to forget your worries.
See a Therapist
If your addicted family member is in recovery, it’s likely that they’re attending a combination of private and group therapy sessions, but it’s not only them that needs to talk about their issues. One-on-one therapy or family therapy can make a big difference in times of crisis, helping you to come to terms with what’s happening as well as understanding your own personal issues. There is no judgement or blame in a therapy room, just an open space to work on building a better, happier future for you and your family.
Remember the Three Cs
Addiction is an illness, and while there are underlying causes for your loved one’s substance abuse, it is vital that you don’t blame yourself. Remember these three Cs whenever you start to experience feelings of guilt around the situation:
- You didn’t cause the addiction
- You can’t control the addiction
- You can’t cure the addiction
These simple statements help to reaffirm that your role here is support. It is ultimately down to the addict themselves to deal with and overcome their illness. You are not to blame and you can’t fix the problem, so just make sure that you are ready to help when you’re needed and concentrate on caring for yourself and your family.
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