Addiction doesn’t just affect the dependent individual, family and friends suffer in many ways, as they try to help their loved one. Furthermore, navigating your own life while loving an addict is emotionally and psychologically taxing. As much as you want everything to go smoothly and get back to normal quickly, it usually does not. Setbacks and disappointments are par for the course.
You often operate between a rock and a hard place, both wanting desperately to continue giving and also to shut off the faucet forever. Where do we go for help and what do we do when things are so messed up? Of course, the answer depends greatly on the severity and complexity of the situation. That said, here are a few tips for navigating life with an addict.
Accept the Situation
It may be difficult to face reality and accept things the way they are in light of loving an addict. It’s natural to want to help and change things for the better. Though this can and does give hope in some situations, it can also make you feel like nothing will ever be good enough. Do also consider how it makes the addict feel.
I recommend accepting the situation right where it is as you work toward goals with your loved one. This means to live life in the present moment without worrying too much about what will happen next. Yes, it’s a process, but the sooner you accept your situation for what it is, the sooner healing will come.
Seek Your Own Support
Just as the addict must seek support and help, families and friends will benefit from doing the same. There are many support groups for family members and friends of addicts that can bring a sense of relief and hope. Simply talking to others who are experiencing similar circumstances aids in letting go of negative feelings, stress, and anxiety about the future.
Loving an addict can often drain you emotionally and psychologically while you figure out how to establish boundaries lovingly. Try not to be so hard on yourself in this process. Mistakes will be made as you navigate one of the hardest things you’ll ever go through. You may feel like you’re abandoning your loved one at times when you have to retreat or speak your truth.
Ironically, sometimes, what an addict needs the most is tough love and strong boundaries. This often takes the form of withdrawing support and may seem counterintuitive, but, ultimately, it shows that you are serious and will not enable. You may also need some professional advice about how to create and sustain healthy and safe boundaries.
Remember Addicts Aren’t Themselves
You may remember the addict in your life as the person they once were: warm, charismatic, generous, fun-loving. It can be hard to believe that that person still exists. when lies, manipulation, and complete lack of respect take over. This is horribly confusing and damaging to your relationship.
Dealing with this loss is one of the most challenging parts of the whole experience. You will want to lash out and may even become irrational yourself. Instead, try to see past the layers of hurt and disease and love with hope, firm resolve, and patience.
Remember There is Hope
The good news is there is help out there waiting with open arms. When the addict in your life is ready to face up to his or her condition and take steps to recovery with medical professionals, rehabilitation centers like JC’S Recovery Center are just a phone call away. Most centers’ programs closely model the 12-Step Program, and some even incorporate faith and faith-based teachings into their programs.
Be good to yourself as you navigate this difficult road. Communicate your needs and concerns with your loved ones to ensure that you don’t get lost in the complex shuffle. Understand that you can’t control everything and will need to figure out a way to accept it asap.