Most of the time addicts don’t suffer alone. While in the heat of their addiction, most addicts can’t see that their addiction greatly impacts those who love them. While family and friends try to be there for those who are in recovery, who is there for the family? If you are suffering alongside a loved one suffering from substance abuse, here are some tips which might help you make it through your darkest hours.
It All Begins with Knowing What You Are Dealing With
Before you can even hope to cope with a family member’s addiction, you need to understand as much about substance abuse as possible. This is often considered a family disease because addiction does impact everyone in the addict’s life. No matter who the addict interacts with, substance abuse will have a profound impact on those interactions, so it is important to understand the signs and symptoms of addiction along with your part in the addict’s recovery. Just remember, the one thing you cannot do is take that recovery onto yourself. Don’t be an enabler. Let the addict do the steps – you cannot do it for them!
Attend Family Groups or Therapy Sessions
When a loved one is in residential or outpatient substance abuse treatment programs, one thing you should always do is attend family groups or therapy sessions. In this way, you can show your support while getting the help you need to cope with this deadly disease. Remember, you are being impacted by substance abuse as well, so learning coping mechanisms can go a long way in helping you maintain your strength as your loved one heals.
Learn What You Can and Can’t Expect
Many times, we expect too much from our loved ones in recovery. As the old saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so keep this in mind. It probably took many years for your family member to hit rock bottom and seek recovery, so you cannot expect an overnight miracle. The 12 steps to recovery are a lifelong process, so keep your expectations in check. Family sessions and attendance at groups like Al-Anon should help you learn what you can and can’t expect on your loved one’s road to recovery.
Don’t Alter Your Regular Schedule
One other bit of advice that helps you cope with a family member’s substance abuse is keeping structure in your life. Don’t let yourself stay up at night worrying, because you’ll wear yourself out doing so. You need to stay strong and healthy during this process of recovery and the best way to do that is to maintain a regular schedule. Eat, sleep, work and play as you always do so that your life continues to feel as ‘normal’ as possible.
Finally, don’t forget that there is strength in numbers. Attend as many meetings and family sessions as possible so that you can share your story as well. Let others help you learn coping mechanisms so that you can stay strong and healthy during what could be a very lengthy process. Remember, you can be supportive, but you can’t work those steps for your family member. Be there while they work the steps and in the end, everyone can be made whole.