Finding Help for a Loved One So You Can Heal
Living with a loved one who struggles with an addiction can be extremely difficult. You might feel that everything you say or do takes on a new meaning. Your words might even influence them in ways that could be detrimental or beneficial to their needs. Additionally, you might always wonder if your loved one will lash out at you and that the peace in your family will fall apart if they do. Trying to help your loved one who has a substance use disorder takes a toll on your health.
Finding support for your loved one means understanding that help does not stop when they seek treatment. In the aftermath of traumatic substance abuse, the focus is on their recovery. However, often, the surrounding family members are overlooked. It is essential to learn how to heal the whole family. This approach can strengthen the bonds between you and your loved one and support a long-lasting recovery for your loved one. Your health and well-being are important, and sometimes it takes understanding between family members to begin to heal.
Is Addiction a Family Disease?
When you are close to your addicted loved one, you could experience the disease just as much as them. How it impacts you depends on the relationship; parent/child relationships will experience it much differently than spouses, for example. This is because prior conflicts between you and your loved one often influence how it affects you. This creates tension and stress in the relationship. When addiction takes over, it begins to interfere with your life outside of the relationship. The constant emotional guessing game takes its toll and could leave you with a sense of worry and helplessness.
When your loved one chooses recovery, the process needs to include the family on as many levels as possible. Their choice to enter treatment will not provide you the tools needed to repair the physical and emotional damage within you. You, too, will need to go through your recovery process. Begin with self-care. Evaluate the situation, ask yourself what your loved one needs mentally, physically and emotionally, and ask yourself these same questions. Seeing where you and your loved ones have neglected yourselves is sometimes all it takes to enlighten you toward choosing a path toward a more positive future. Never prioritize in this process. Your loved one needs your understanding as much as you do. Do not place unwanted stress on your relationship by saying things like, you should do this or need to do this, or I should do this or need to do this. This creates unfair expectations and could leave you disappointed and your loved one frustrated when these expectations are not met.
Avoid the Traps of Your Mind
When your loved one is sick, you’ve probably put them first in many ways while you and the family has taken a backseat. Now that your family member is getting help for their addiction, it’s OK to practice some self-care and manage your needs. Here are some feelings you may have that can act as a warning sign so you can turn any negative thoughts into positive ones:
Feeling Overwhelmed and Inadequate
If the process of recovery begins to move too fast, take a step back to re-establish your priorities. Are you among these priorities? If no, you want to add in or take out some things to make the time for yourself. Take a sick day from work, skip a workout, or order in instead of cooking. These life “time-outs” are times that should be used to focus and pamper yourself. Consider taking a hot bath, reading a book, or calling a friend to talk. Find a way to remind yourself that you still exist outside of your loved one’s recovery. If you are under a lot of stress, seek a therapist to discuss your concerns. Take time for yourself consistently, maybe one day a week where you explore and keep in touch with the things you enjoy that make you who you are.
Having Guilt and Making Mistakes
Sometimes, when you indulge in activities you enjoy, you might feel guilty because you visualize your loved one and their struggles. Likewise, you might question what you could have done differently as a parent or a spouse to help them avoid addiction. Understand that addiction is a disorder of the brain, and it is not your fault. There was nothing you could have done differently to change that. Also, understand that it is unfair to define your loved one by their addiction. Because it is a disease, you should realize that this is not who they are. For additional help, family therapy is a great and safe environment to express your thoughts and emotions surrounding your loved one’s addiction. It is also a good place to remind them that you know that this isn’t who they are. Additionally, express what you love about them and offer your unrelenting support.
Worrying that It Gets in the Way of Progress
Worry can hinder progress. When your loved one is receiving treatment, trust them and the facility. Facilities such as Cliffside Malibu have your loved one’s best interest in mind. They will set them up with the tools needed long after their treatment at the facility is over. Relieving yourself of worry does not mean that you don’t care; it means that you believe in your loved one to follow through. In the meantime, focus on yourself, and create the best environment for recovery. This, in turn, will create the best person and environment for them upon returning home.
The process of recovering as a family will have its challenges. Cliffside Malibu is a great place to start this journey because we believe that addiction can sometimes be a family disease. It takes all members’ participation to achieve lasting recovery. You and your loved one do not need to struggle anymore. Get help today and call us at (855) 403-5641.