Addiction is devastating to all members of the family.
If you have a loved one who is battling substance abuse, you may be overwhelmed with the demands, heartache, and frustrations. Yet, as a caregiver, you have to learn to take care of yourself as well. With boundaries, not only do you restore health and well-being for yourself, but you also begin to create motivation for your loved one to seek out the help he or she needs.
Practice Saying No
It’s very difficult to juggle your own well-being along with that of another person. That is why it is so important to learn to say no. When you try to do too much, you can’t put your best foot forward in any area, and that’s quite limiting. As you create boundaries, this is the first one.
Once you set the limits on what you can and will do, you have to be confident in your decisions. You may feel guilty and even hate the decisions you make at that moment. Yet, it’s important to recognize you cannot protect your loved one from the consequences of their actions. By saying no, you force them to look at what’s happening and why. And, you force them to make better decisions in the future.
Know You’re Not Responsible for Their Actions
Many people with addiction will use a variety of mechanisms to get others to support them. They need to do so in order to maintain their current habits. This may include manipulating or lying. It may even include illegal behaviors related to their job or others in their lives. Many use money that should pay for groceries or the mortgage to fund their addiction.
It’s not your responsibility to fix this. It is also not to your benefit or anyone else’s benefit to feel guilt over the consequences of not helping them. If they don’t make a mortgage payment, they face the consequence of losing their home. Even if your children or grandchildren are a part of that decision, it’s important to stand your ground.
Set Boundaries That Are Good for You, Too
What boundaries should you set? This will be dependent, at least in part, on what the situation is. When you work with our group and family counseling team at DK Solutions in Marietta, GA, you’ll be able to create clearly defined boundaries. Here are some examples that may prove valuable to you.
- Stop providing financial support. There is no clearer message to your loved one that you want them to get better than to stop giving them money that supports their habit. Do this even when you think you are paying for the grocery bill or the water.
- Don’t turn a blind eye or allow your loved one to steal from others. Do not let them steal from you, either.
- Do not tolerate any type of abuse in your home, including mental, physical, verbal, or any other form.
- Do not allow any type of substance use in your home or around your family. There is never a time when one drink is okay.
- Never let your loved one make you feel less valuable or important to them because you will not support their habits.
After you’ve set boundaries, set consequences for your loved one’s actions. This is important to do because a loved one who is used to getting his or her way is likely to push those boundaries from the first day. Your consequences are the power that makes them face the reality of their use. If they do these things, what will happen?
- You will require them to leave your home.
- You may not speak to them.
- You may write them out of your life.
Once you set these consequences, it is time to hold true to your boundaries and the outcome of missing those goals.
How to Support Yourself Through the Process
Let’s be clear—this process is never going to be easy, and it will be very painful emotionally for you. Hold your ground to get the results necessary. In doing so, you need to have a strong support system around you to help you through these challenging months.
- Have a close friend to talk to at a moment’s notice. This individual needs to back you 100 percent in boundaries and consequences.
- Turn to a counselor or therapy professional for support. You need to work through the pain you feel.
- Turn to support groups that can help you, such as Al-Anon Family Groups and Co-Dependents Anonymous.
Work on Improving Your Life
There are a variety of ways to support yourself, but self-care should focus on the key aspects of living a healthy life. This includes:
- Eat a healthy diet. Work to improve your nutritional intake, so you feel good.
- Get physical activity. Being busy like this can help support your body’s needs during these high-stress times.
- Put yourself back into your life. Do the things you love to do each day.
Boundaries are the starting point of turning substance abuse around for many people. The longer you support your loved one’s dependency, the harder your life is, and the more at risk your loved one is likely to be. Turn things around by establishing these limits to protect yourself.