Part IV: Helping and taking care of yourself
The last and most important thing to remember, when caring for a love one, is to help yourself and get all the support you need. Dealing with a loved one who suffers from addiction can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. It’s important to take care of yourself whilst helping your loved one. Being able to talk openly about your problems and finding support can help. You could turn to trusted friends, a therapist, people in your faith community or even join a peer support group for families coping with addiction, such as Al-Anon for alcoholism. Being able to share your burdens, together with listening to others with similar problems, can provide a lot of comfort and strength to get you through your difficult situation.
Taking care of yourself might also require you to acknowledge any problems you could have developed while dealing with your loved one’s addiction and seeking treatment for it. Sometimes, in an effort to help someone recover from addiction, the helper might become addicted as well – not to drugs or alcohol necessarily – but to the loved ones addictive behavior and being needed by the addict. This is referred to as Co-dependency and is a serious problem. Co-dependent people often neglect themselves because they are obsessed with the addicted person’s problem and trying to cure and control it. In trying to do so, they may be unintentionally keeping their loved one from recovering (discussed in Part III of this article). It’s important to examine your whole life to see if it is revolving around your addicted loved one and how you are caring for and supporting them. If your whole life revolves around them and you are neglecting yourself in the process, it’s time to cut back and take care of yourself first.