Living with an opioid addict is definitely challenging. Addiction isn’t a condition that only affects the person taking the drugs, it affects everyone who is around that person. It has the potential to tear families apart – and it does so in many cases. People who care for someone who is addicted to opioids is likely to feel a range of emotions regarding their loved one. It isn’t uncommon for them to feel emotions like love, hate, anger, pity, fear, and hopelessness, all at the same time. It may seem impossible to handle the whole situation.
One of the most effective ways to be able to offer help to your addicted loved one is by taking care of yourself first. In this post, we’ll look at what you can do to take care of yourself and how you can then help your loved one.
Taking Care of Yourself While Caring for an Opioid Addict
When you have to live with the chaos and dysfunction that opioid addiction causes, you may feel like you are constantly going back and forth between being a caregiver to and trying to disengage from your addicted loved one. This roller coaster of emotions can quickly take a toll on you emotionally and physically. Before you are in a position to help your loved one, you must take care of yourself. Here are some ways to do that:
- Learn about addiction and recovery – When you understand the nature of addiction, you will better be able to help your loved one who is addicted. Educating yourself will help you begin to understand that your loved one’s behavior is a result of his or her addiction to drugs and not of who he or she is as a person.
- Don’t blame yourself – Often times, the family members of people who are addicted to opioids feel that they themselves are responsible for the addiction. However, in reality, you must know that you can’t control the decisions that your loved one makes.
- Don’t engage with your loved one when he or she is using – Arguing or even talking to a person who is “high” on opioids is a battle you can’t win. Rather, you should remove yourself from the situation and try to talk to your loved one he or she is sober.
- Seek support for yourself – Whether you decide to see a therapist, attend 12-step meetings for family members of addicts, or talk with a trusted friend (or all three), seeking support will help you understand and deal with your emotions regarding your loved one’s addiction.
How to Help Your Addicted Loved One
Now that you understand how to take care of yourself first, you can help your loved one in constructive ways. Here are some things to consider:
- Keep communicating – Let your loved one know that you are available to talk to him or her when they are ready to discuss recovery.
- Remain patient – Recovery takes time and most people who are addicted to opioids have to attempt sobriety several times. Becoming impatient will lead to unnecessary blame and stress.
- Stop enabling – Covering for your addicted loved one or trying to fix his or her messes isn’t helpful to him or her or to you. It is much more likely for addicts to seek help when they have to handle the consequences of their addictions.
- Support sobriety – When your family member asks for help to stop using opioids, be supportive.
- Set boundaries – Setting boundaries and sticking to them is hard, but it’s the best thing that you can do for yourself and your loved one. Beware of using them as punishment or blame though.
- Work on forgiveness – Forgiving your loved one, whether he or she stops using or not, is essential to your mental health. It doesn’t in any way mean that you approve of the addictive behavior, instead it means that you are letting go of resentments that will be harmful to you later.
What to do When Your Loved One Wants Help
There is no doubt that addiction is a heartbreaking disease that hurts everyone in the family. However, there are often times when the addicted person will reach out to someone for help. If your loved one expresses a desire to stop using opioids, getting him or her to an addiction treatment center as quickly as possible is the best thing you can do. At My Time Recovery, we can help your loved one begin a journey to recovery. Please contact us to get help.