Your social life plays a vital role in shaping your personality and the way you communicate with others.
When living with family in a household, you need to understand living in harmony. This becomes particularly difficult when living with someone with drug addiction.
For some, the stress is overwhelming, and they tend to neglect their health. The family dynamics break apart for others, and the patient spirals out of control.
Either way, effective coping strategies can help families of addicts deal with the problem effectively, help the addict recover, and maintain their wellbeing.
Feeling anger, worry, fear, resentment, and helplessness is expected, but you can cope with these feelings better with the right advice and social support.
Following are a few tips for families of drug addicts.
- Seek specialized help for the addict
There are many rehabilitation and detox centers where addicts can seek professional help to overcome their problems. Most addicts don’t take the initiative on their own, but encouragement by their loved ones can be a driving factor.
Treatment options range from intensive outpatient programs to residential rehab. The interventions would include medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, rational emotive behavioral therapy, family training, and support groups.
Research shows that inpatient treatment has higher completion rates (65%) than outpatient treatment (35%).
If the addiction is severe, therapists might recommend residential programs for 24/7 assistance by medical professionals with frequent group therapy sessions.
Why? Because the structured environment and fixed schedule create a lifestyle that aids recovery. When you call in professionals to help the addict, you’ll feel less burdened.
- Learn all you can about addiction
Families of addicts are likely to be plagued by resentment and anger towards the addict. However, educating yourself about the actual causes of addiction can help you overcome these feelings and shift the blame.
Research shows that addiction often results from chemical changes in the brain and electrical impulses, not because of the patient’s weakness or wilfulness.
You can use books or online resources to learn more about it. Secondly, look for the latest treatment options to help your loved one overcome addiction.
This knowledge will give you hope for a better future for the patient and yourself.
- Seek individual therapy
Your mental health is just as crucial as the addict. Living with an addict can cause feelings of abandonment, embarrassment, anxiety, and fear.
Seek private therapy to help recover from the emotional trauma of coping with their addiction. Therapists assist families in ways they can overcome destructive thoughts, deal with the stress, remain assertive in maintaining boundaries, and manage their anger.
Private therapy sessions help you vent out and unload emotions you can’t share with others for fear of judgment.
- Meet with other families of addicts
The experience of living with drug addicts is unique. Parents tend to blame themselves, siblings feel neglected and envious of the attention the addict gets, and relationships get affected adversely.
There is also an increased risk of abuse and angry outbursts by the addict. No one can understand your life better than those undergoing the same problem.
Support groups provide people with a safe space to share their feelings among those who can relate. Research suggests that this helps reduce problems, minimizes stress, improves mental health, and promotes better quality of life in the long run.
Such support groups often include a psychotherapist, a social worker, and an addiction counselor. In such an environment, you get to process the problem and take time to heal; it provides validation of your emotional reactions and hopes for recovery.
- Don’t compromise your sleep schedule
For drug addicts, the worst episodes mainly occur during the night. You might be woken up by your loved one returning home in the dead of night, heavily drunk, or overdosed. This, of course, damages the family’s sleep/wake cycle.
Plenty of research suggests a relationship between reduced sleep and poor mood. Sleep deprivation leads to aggression and emotional outbursts.
To deal with the stress and aid in the addict’s recovery process, you should be fully rested. Research also shows sleep to be a great stress relief as it helps calm the body, enhance decision making and judgment, improve concentration, and refresh the body.
Yes, it would be difficult to regulate your sleep cycle when living with an addict, but it isn’t impossible.
Before you sleep, give your mind time to relax, take a warm bath, stretch your body, and put away your phones. This way, you can improve the quality of your sleep and, in turn, overcome stress.
Living with a loved one who is an addict can be exhausting. However, remember that you’re a crucial element in their recovery process and not let the stress overwhelm you.
Educate yourself, seek professional help, attend private therapy, connect to a support group, and rest well. Remember, if you aren’t healthy, you won’t be able to help a loved one either.
Develop a firm coping mechanism with the strategies mentioned above, and you will see a positive change in your life very soon.