How To Take Care Of Yourself While A Loved One Is Struggling With Addiction
As difficult as addiction is for the person who is going through it, it can also be incredibly difficult for the people who care about that person. Here are a few tips that can help you attend to your own mental well-being as you muddle through this taxing situation.
1. Educate Yourself About Addiction
Addiction is an incredibly complex condition that can have a wide variety of contributing factors. Learning about the condition can help you understand that they are suffering from a disease rather than merely being selfish or making bad choices, as well as that while family dynamics can sometimes play a part in triggering an addiction, you are not at fault for your loved one’s disease or for any of their choices.
You may be better able to help your loved one once you know more about the psychological and physical underpinnings of addiction, or at least to have a better idea of where they are coming from. Being educated about addiction will also allow you to better explain your loved one’s condition to others and to help push back against society-wide stigmatizing beliefs about the condition.
2. Don’t Let Healthy Habits Fall By The Wayside
Aside from the fact that you deserve self-care regardless of a loved one’s addiction, you will be of no use to them if you drive yourself to the point of a mental or physical breakdown. Though paying attention to even your basic needs can feel difficult or even selfish when your loved one may be going in and out of crisis, you should still make an effort not to let the stress drive you to adopt unhealthy habits.
Simple things like eating regular nutritious meals, getting enough sleep, and getting enough exercise are essential to keeping your mental and physical health on track. Since yoga has a meditative component, it may also be a particularly good choice as a stress relieving exercise break!
3. Set Clear Boundaries
As much as you want to be there for your loved one, there is only so much of yourself that you can give, and, taken to the extreme, your earnest attempts at help may actually enable them to continue in their unhealthy habits. It can be difficult to toe the line between wanting to make it clear that you still care and are not excommunicating them for their drug use and inadvertently playing a part in it, setting and holding yourself to clear boundaries when it comes to your loved one could be a great start.
For example, perhaps you will not take phone calls after a certain time, not allow the person in your home if they are intoxicated, or not provide them with money if they are likely to use it to fund drug use. Depending on the nature of relationship, at a certain point you may even want to consider withdrawing from it entirely for the sake of your mental health, painful as that may be, at least until they have committed to finding appropriate treatment.
4. Make Time To Connect And Destress
In order to maintain a healthy support system, it’s important that you not neglect other relationships in your life in favor of your relationship with an addict. Something as simple as scheduling a coffee date or movie night with a trusted friend could be a great way to destress and connect, ensuring that your loved one’s issues do not become all-consuming for you.
You may also find it helpful to begin attending a support group specifically for the loved ones of those struggling with addiction, where you will be able to build camaraderie and friendships with others in similar situations. In sharing your story and listening to the stories of others, you may be able to find not only commiseration but advice, empathy, and hope.
In the spirit of destressing, you may also find it useful to take up a relaxing hobby. Aside from exercise, pursuits like the creative arts, gardening, or baking can help keep you busy as a respite from your worries and elevate your mood and give you a sense of productivity even when matters with your loved one are not going as well as you have hoped. In the same vein, dedicating your time to some sort of charity project, maybe even one related to those struggling with addiction, may help you heal and give you a sense of purpose.
5. Seek Professional Guidance
A loved one’s addiction is liable to bring out all kinds of emotions in you—anger, depression, guilt, shame, fear—a lot for anyone to sort out! You may not be able to cope with it all on your own, and there’s no shame in that. Enlisting the help of a therapist can help you to work through your feelings and to learn coping skills with which you can better manage them, allowing you to maintain a sense of calm that will make you better able to handle stressors and to deal with your loved one even in intense circumstances.
There may be other cases in the course of a loved one’s addiction in which professional intervention becomes necessary. If matters get so extreme that you believe your loved one has become a danger to themselves but remains unwilling to seek treatment, you may find it beneficial to reach out to one of our skilled intervention counselors to help you get through to your loved one.
If an intervention is unsuccessful and the situation is severe enough to warrant it, they will also be able to help you through the process of filing a Marchman Act petition, which may allow for your loved one to be involuntarily committed to a rehabilitation facility. If this becomes the case, feel free to reach out to us any time at 833-497-3808 to learn more or to contact us using this form.