Coping with Addiction in a Loved One – Don’t let addiction hurt either of you
Learn to cope with addiction in a loved one and maintain your mental composure during hard times. Be the best person you can and help your loved one.
We wonder what to do when we realize that someone close to us may have an alcohol addiction. The natural urge to help, protect and change that person is inevitable, but in most cases our loved ones need more than that. The inability to help them on our own seems confusing and hurtful, because the addiction is something only they feel and something only they can change with proper treatment. Helping someone else overcome an alcohol addiction is not only a difficult task to take on, but most times, without proper treatment, it is not possible for you to combat alone.
Someone with an addiction will show a change in personality and might seem more disconnected than they were previously, but there is always hope for that person to return. Whether or not your loved one is willing to take the journey to recovery at this point, taking care of yourself is still a priority. Just like in an airplane, if the oxygen masks drop, apply yours first, then assist others. To some, the immediate reaction to this is not a positive one, especially if you haven’t yet sought out help for yourself. When the addiction is not your addiction, it is nearly impossible to understand the compulsion that drives someone to drink. However it is possible to stay healthy, stay educated and be the best person you can be to your loved one when they are ready to confront it or while they are going through treatment. Here are a few ways to cope and stay healthy during a difficult situation such as this.
Realize You’re Not Alone
As out-of-the-box as it may sound, talking to strangers who have experience in this area can be very helpful. There are so many others who have had a loved one in this situation, who have professional involvement with those who are battling substance abuse, or perhaps some who have actually battled and overcome the situation themselves. These strangers can give you some perspective, hope, and useful techniques for coping with difficulties that arise. Another idea is to look into Al-Anon or AlaTeen meetings. What many people don’t know is these meetings aren’t meant just for those battling the addiction themselves, but also anyone else who may involved or affected by it. Continue your search for local groups, there will be schedules and locations presented to you so you are able to partake or just listen.
Set aside some time, go to your public library and search for books about growing up with alcoholism. There are plenty of resources on many different perspectives of addiction treatment and alcoholism. If you don’t feel comfortable starting off at Al-Anon meetings in person, this is a great alternative to start with. Many people have written things they want to share simply because they know what you’re going through and want to help. So read and listen, because again, you’re not alone.
Utilize A Daily Self -check
During a time of traumatic experience, it is important to try to hold on to yourself. Sometimes when we deal with a family member struggling with alcoholism, it is easy to become overwhelmed. So before you start your day, try and take a few minutes and ask yourself a few simple questions; “How do I feel physically today?” “What is on my mind right now?” “What else can I do to work through this hard time?” “What do I need to accomplish for myself today?” If it helps write these things down, set goals and strive for them.
You don’t need to be involved with any religion in particular or at all, but it is important to get in touch with your inner spirit, no matter what it may be. Pray to the higher power you believe in, or simply pray to yourself. Ask for confidence, strength and serenity in order to accept the things you cannot control and help you cope. This time of the day can also serve as a break from all the chaos, a time for serenity, reflection and a time for hope.
Alcoholism can be a debilitating disease to those who experience it personally, but whether you experience it yourself, or feel for the loved one who does, make the choice and don’t let the disease destroy either of you. There’s always hope.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.