Five Tips to Cope with a Loved One’s Addiction
Feelings of abandonment, fear, anger and resentment are palpable emotions that get triggered in people trying to cope with a loved one’s addiction.
The effects of watching chronic substance abuse play out on a daily basis, is often gut-wrenching and extremely stressful for family members. For most, the person they love has become unstable and in some cases; dangerous. While everyone in society experience the effects of substance abuse on varying levels, the pain and suffering experienced by those close to the addict are immeasurable.
The average person is usually at a loss when it comes to dealing with their own emotional turmoil relative to the addiction. In fact, they are often so preoccupied with the ups and downs of the addict’s life, that they may be unaware of the deleterious effects the addiction is having on their own mental and physical health and overall well-being. The following suggestions may provide some relief for those trying to deal with a loved one’s addiction.
Five Tips to Cope with A Loved One’s Addiction
- #1. Regain focus on your own life and basic needs such as proper diet, exercise, rest. It is easy to become so consumed with a loved one’s addiction that you begin to overlook important self-care needs. Constantly worrying about what may happen to them next can lead to self-destructive patterns of behavior that is just as damaging as a substance addiction. Take the time to build into your everyday life the necessary step to plan and enjoy healthy meals, use exercise to destress from the chronic concerns presented by your loved one’s addiction and make getting sufficient sleep a top priority.
- #2. Learn all you can about the addiction and find out what are some practical steps you can take to help your loved one. Despite scientific evidence that addiction is a disease, many people continue to see addiction as a moral failing on the part of the addict which affect how they react to the addiction. Based on years of research into the effects of drugs on the human brain, the National Institute on Drug Abuse define addiction as a relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.” Understanding the process and cycles of addiction can unveil some of the mysteries surrounding your loved one’s addiction. It will also help to defuse any irrational fears and enable you to be proactive about providing the right type of support and encouragement that will be most beneficial to your loved one.
- #3. Get help and support for yourself. One of the most overlooked and important strategies in coping with a loved one’s addiction is neglecting to get professional help for yourself. Inability to cope with the roller coaster of emotions presented by a loved one’s addiction can result in the abuse of drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism for yourself. Since secrecy is typical in families dealing with addiction, the greatest thing you can do is to find people with whom you can talk about what you’re going through such as trusted friends, clergy, therapist or join an in-person or internet support group with others who are going through the same issues.
- #4. Detach yourself from the blame and consequences of the addiction. Many people blame themselves for the addiction and as a result perpetuate the addiction by engaging in enabling behavior. Take a realistic and objective look at the situation and set up realistic boundaries to avoid becoming totally absorbed with the addictive patterns of behavior such as always trying to appease or patronize the addict, scolding, nagging or making threats that you are unprepared to carry out.
- #5. People in addiction are not only a threat to themselves but also to their loved ones. As such it is important to establish and have a safe outlet for times when negative behavior get out-of-hand. This is especially important in homes where children may be at risk. Make plans ahead of time with a friend or other family members to provide temporary safe housing or for transportation to leave a volatile situation. Also, explore local support resources in your city or community.
Where there is addiction, it is important to recognize that both the addict and their loved one’s need help. As such effective treatment provides opportunities to integrate spouses and families into the addiction recovery process.