Your Loved One is on a Journey. Don’t Forget These Things…
5 Reminders About Your Loved One’s Addiction
If you have a loved one who has struggled with an addiction, you are likely trying to cope with the impact that your loved one’s addiction has had on you and your family. It is crucial for a person with a substance abuse disorder to engage in a meaningful and effective recovery plan. Similarly, it is equally important that you and your family take steps to heal and recover from the impact that addiction has had on you. Below is a list of reminders as you are navigating your loved one’s recovery:
Reminder #1: Addiction is a disease, and it’s treatable
It is important to keep in mind that addiction is a disease. Because addiction impacts the functioning of the brain (one of the most important organs in the human body), addiction is considered a disease. Some individuals are more likely to develop an addiction based on their genetics, just as some of us are at a greater risk of developing certain cancers or heart disease. Environmental factors can also influence whether a person will become addicted to a substance. Addiction is often stigmatized and seen as a lifestyle choice. It is essential that you start recognizing that your loved one is battling a disease. The good news is that addiction is something that can be managed. Healthy recovery is possible.
Reminder #2: Relapse is a part of recovery
More often than not, it is not realistic to assume that once your loved one makes the decision to choose recovery, they will never use drugs or alcohol again. Having realistic expectations about your loved one’s recovery is beneficial for everyone. As your loved one is navigating recovery, you might ask yourself how you can best take care of yourself if/when a relapse occurs.
Reminder #3: You have been impacted by your loved one’s substance abuse
Being a part of a family system where someone is struggling with addition is often a painful experience. People who become dependent on a substance often put their substance of choice above those that they love, which may result in you feeling abandoned or betrayed. Once you can name how you have been hurt by your loved one’s substance abuse, you can begin to heal. Attending individual therapy, couples therapy, or family therapy is an excellent place to explore how addiction has impacted you and your family. Support groups such as Al-Anon and Alateen can be helpful places to process your experiences and receive support from individuals with similar experiences.
Reminder #4: You can’t create change for the person you love
Do you find yourself feeling responsible for helping the person you love maintain their sobriety? You probably feel this way because you care about your loved one and fear the consequences of substance abuse. It is important to remember that your loved one must choose recovery for themselves. You can absolutely support them as they navigate recovery, but you can’t do the work for them.
Reminder #5: Setting boundaries is important for everyone’s healing
Something you may have struggled with is enabling/adapting to your loved one who abuses substances. Enabling/adapting is anything that allows or accommodates the person who is abusing substances to continue to do so, and it comes in many different forms. Al-Anon came up with the phrase “dethatching with love” to remind family members of those struggling with addiction that setting boundaries and making the decision to stop adapting to your loved one’s addiction is helpful for everyone. “Dethatching with love” is an act of love towards yourself and your family member.