Watching someone you love struggle with addiction, day in and day out, can be incredibly heartbreaking and discouraging. Even when they have been to drug and alcohol rehab, worrying about their potential for relapse is enough to keep you up at night. Besides feeling helpless, you may also feel angry, frustrated, disappointed, and sad, all at the same time.
When you’re the parent of someone lost in the cycle of addiction, you may wonder, “did I mess up somewhere? What could I have done differently?” You may find it hard not to blame yourself for the cycle they’re trapped in, and the damage it’s caused to your own relationship, your other children, or your grandchildren.
As the son or daughter of an addicted person, you may wonder something similar, “Why am I not enough to make them change?” You live each day with the fear that “mom/dad might overdose,” and while you may not be living with them now or depend on them for your day-to-day needs, still many questions arise: “When will I talk to them again? What’s the last thing I said to them? What should I say to them? Should I be mad? Will that just make it worse? Should I reach out to them? Do they care?”
Their addiction is much more about what’s going on inside of them than it is about you. Thoughts that focus your attention on what their addiction means about you are not actually helpful. That said, there are some things that you can do to calm some of those fears, and take steps that can help you lessen the impact of the addiction on your life.
Stopping the Cycle
Understanding the cycle of addiction, how it develops, and how it passes on generationally may be one of the most important things that you can do for yourself, no matter if you are the parent or child of an addicted person. You can do this on your own, or through a drug and alcohol rehab where your loved one is receiving treatment.
Research suggests that addiction is passed along in families, and up to 50% of the risk of developing a substance use disorder is determined by the influence of genes. This means that as the child of someone who has a problematic relationship with substances, you will need to take extra precautions to ensure that you do not follow along on the same path.
Surround yourself with supportive others and invest in personal development, hobbies or other constructive uses of your time. It will be important for you to process and grieve the loss of your ideas of what a parent should be and to learn to talk about your emotional world without shutting down, or feeling the need to numb. Understanding that these are the very difficulties that led your parent to their current state may inspire you to run your life differently.
Another of the most important things you can do for yourself is to be honest and realistic about the role you play in your loved one’s addictive cycle. There is a fine line between helping someone who has an addiction and sheltering that person from its consequences.
We call this codependency when one person in the family ends up sacrificing their own primary needs, comfort and even personal safety for their loved one. We see this often from parents of those who struggle with addiction, where even without intention or awareness, they may find themselves in the position of caring for the addicted individual at their own expense.
Some signs and symptoms of codependency include:
- Calling in sick at work for the person you love
- Delaying a purchase to cover a bill instead
- Making excuses for the person at parties or family gatherings
- Denying your own feelings and providing affection and attention when you have no desire to do so
- Taking exclusive care of the household chores
- Nursing the person through a hangover or other withdrawal symptoms
- Walking on eggshells to avoid negative confrontation
- Sacrificing personal values and morals
Taking Care of You
When for so long, your life has focused only on the needs of the addicted person, it can feel uncomfortable and unnatural to resume the No. 1 priority spot in your life. However, this is the best way to stop reinforcing family dynamics that contribute to negative habits. Focusing on yourself is the best way to feel back in control of your life, and do what you need to heal, regardless of whether they ever choose to get help.
Finding Hope at Promises Behavioral Health
Perhaps what your loved one needs is a push in the right direction. At Promises Behavioral Health, we treat many alcohol and drug addictions and help empower people to change their lives.
Even if your loved one has been to drug and alcohol rehab before, a second chance at treatment at a Promises program may be the opportunity they need to move in a positive direction.
We use many therapeutic programs to help us, including:
- Art therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Group therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- And perhaps most importantly, family therapy
To learn more, contact us at 844 875 5609 today and see how we can help your loved one and your family heal from the hurts caused by addiction.