Addiction impacts families in a variety of ways.
In every situation, it’s hard to be the caregiver watching your loved one suffer.
The National Association for Children of Addiction provides a statement that you should use as a basic guideline for your own mental health. It’s the 7 Cs. “I didn’t CAUSE it. I can’t CONTROL it. I can’t CURE it. But I can take CARE of myself by COMMUNICATING my feelings, making good CHOICES, and CELEBRATING myself.”
How can you apply this to yourself and the way you live your life? While caregiving is something you do, it shouldn’t define who you are. Consider these tips from DK Solutions Group in Marietta, Georgia to help you care for yourself while being there for a loved one facing addiction.
Let Go of the Self-Blame
Perhaps the hardest step is this one. Knowing you didn’t cause your loved one’s addiction is critical, even if they say you’ve made their life challenging. Your loved one may blame you for their addiction or tell you they use drugs to numb their feelings, so they don’t have to deal with you. It hurts, but it is generally the drugs speaking. Don’t take this to heart.
Remember this: it’s far easier for a person with an addiction to deny your care for them and just how severe their addiction is than it is for them to admit they are wrong. Recognize this isn’t due to your actions.
Realize You Can’t Fix It Alone
One of the key reasons to seek out an intervention is because you can’t do it on your own any longer. When you come to the realization that your loved one has an addiction, you also face the reality that he or she needs professional help to overcome it.
From a personal standpoint, it’s hard to come to the realization that your loved one is far beyond your ability to help them. You’re powerless to fix it—and that’s okay. You do have power in helping them, though. You can tell them you won’t give them money, providing a home, or feed them if they continue to use and not seek help.
Don’t Feel Guilty About Caring for You
Many caregivers struggle with a sense of guilt. How can you spend the day out with friends laughing when your loved one is at home suffering? Self-care is critical because it restores who you are. It allows you to step away from the stress and hardship for just a few moments. During that time, your hormones balance. You may even smile. You are able to confide in others who love you. And, you are able to express yourself in a way that feels good.
If you still feel guilty, rationalize self-care like this: when you step away, even for a short amount of time, you gain the ability to be the best version of yourself. This allows you to help your loved one more fully later.
You Don’t Have to Hold It All In
When you hold in your thoughts and feelings about what’s happening, they build up. Eventually, you can’t keep doing it. You’ll be overwhelmed, exhausted, and unable to provide care for yourself or your loved one. It’s important to let others know how you are.
Are you angry? Express that. Let your loved one know how scared you are. Discuss what this addiction is doing to you. If you can’t do that with your loved one, it’s okay to reach out for your own support. A counselor can help you to let go of all of that frustration and anger, allowing you to regain control.
Focus on a Healthy You
What can you do to ensure you are healthy? You probably worry a lot about your loved one, but here are some simple things you can do for yourself:
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Get in 20 minutes of exercise each day, even if it is just taking the dog for a walk.
- Get enough sleep, no matter what.
- Drink enough water to keep yourself hydrated.
- Work with your doctor to ensure your hormone levels are balanced.
- Find a way to de-stress. It could be swimming, boxing, or laughing with friends.
Finally, it’s also important to give yourself something positive to look forward to. It’s a way to celebrate life. For example, you may want to just relax and watch the birds outside each morning. It can help you to just spend some time with the kids at the park. The key is to look for small bits of happiness that are likely already a part of your life. You might not see them through the stress, but they are there.
Reaching out for help is one of the most powerful steps you can take in supporting your loved one. It takes a lot of courage to do it. Yet, it can be life-changing for everyone.