Battling the Frustration of Addiction
As human beings we experience a wealth of emotions from love and hate to despair and elation. It is one of the many things that make us human. Of course, while some emotions are great and wonderful and embraced, others are no fun at all. One of the most frustrating emotions we all have to deal with at times is frustration itself. No one likes to feel this way. It comes upon us when things just aren’t going our way. For the addict trying to come clean and for the loved ones waiting for the addict’s behaviors to finally change, frustration can be a daily burden.
Frustration for the Addict
Being an addict can mean dealing with chronic frustration. Before you admit your problem and embrace recovery, you are constantly frustrated by your search for the next fix. This is punctuated by shorter and shorter periods of satisfaction and high. Once you make the choice to stay clean, your frustration mounts as you realize you just can’t get that fix and withdrawal symptoms overwhelm you. Once firmly in recovery, frustration can rear its ugly head as you do your best to ignore cravings and stay on the straight and narrow. Additionally, other aspects of your life, such as people not trusting you, the inability to find work, and other concerns just add to the frustration. It can be enough to hurl you off the wagon.
In the past, you were able to cope with frustration by turning to your substance and getting a high. Now that using is no longer an option, you need to come up with other ways to dial down the frustration and return to a peaceful state of mind. A big part of this should be addressed and dealt with during professional counseling or therapy sessions. Coping with frustration means learning new ways to behave and deal with situations that bring about those feelings of distress and a professional can help you do that.
Another aspect of dealing with frustration is being aware of your surroundings and state of mind. You need to evaluate yourself, your life, and your reactions to stress on a daily basis. When you can recognize the situations, people, and your own behaviors that cause you frustration, you can begin to control them. Learn to avoid the things that cause you the most amount of stress. If you ignore the signals and causes, you are headed for an explosion of frustration and the resulting consequences.
When you do get to a point of unbearable frustration, take a time out. Before doing anything drastic like relapsing or taking your anger out on others who don’t deserve it, stop and consider your actions. Think about what would make the situation better and what would make it worse. Even if you simply walk away and do something else for a while, that is more productive than doing something that will have negative consequences.
Frustration for the Loved Ones of the Addict
If you are the loved one of an addict, you are also susceptible to unnatural levels of frustration. You have gotten caught up in this situation and are forced to worry about your son, sibling, or spouse and it seems tremendously unfair. You get frustrated by his constant promises to get clean, his lying and stealing, and his constant abuse of your trust and your love. On some days, it probably seems as if you want to simply wash your hands of this person and cut him out of your life. But, you don’t, because you love him and know he needs you. To be there for him without losing your sanity, you need to learn to cope with the frustration.
Start by learning more about the addiction. The more you understand the complexity of addiction, the chemistry changes in the brain, and the difficulty of quitting, the more patience you will have. You will never fully understand why he does what he does, but learning more can give you a great deal of sympathy. Also use stress-beating techniques. Stress and frustration are very similar things and coping strategies can really help. Use whatever works for you, whether that is meditation, prayer, exercise, hitting a punching bag, or writing your feelings down on paper.
Finally, if you feel like the stress and frustration are simply overwhelming you, consider therapy sessions. You can attend sessions with your addict or find a therapist or support group that can help you as the loved one of an addict. Both can be extremely helpful and can keep you in good mental health so that you can better help your loved one through recovery.