Are you a caregiver for an addicted loved one?
It might be somebody you live with on a full-time basis, such as a partner, parent, or a child. Or you might live apart but see your loved one on a regular basis to provide physical and emotional support.
Whatever the case, we know it won’t be easy for you. Focusing on their needs will take its emotional toll on you, so for your own needs, as well as to give you the tools to be a better caregiver, you need to think about yourself too.
You shouldn’t care for your loved one alone
We’re sure you’re great, but you’re not superhuman. All the care your loved one needs shouldn’t come from you alone, as you might experience exhaustion and burnout, and that won’t help anybody. So, ensure you have the support of your doctor for yourself and your addicted loved one. Get in touch with the appropriate therapy and rehabilitation groups if your loved one hasn’t yet been through a course of help. Considering addictive disorders are linked to mental illness, you might also seek help from community support services for people with a disability. And share responsibility for your loved one with other interested parties and family members, giving you the option to follow the next tip.
You need to practice self-care
The demands of your loved one may be many, but without time to yourself, you might become ill and even prone to addictive tendencies yourself. Therefore, find time to care for your mental health, with exercise, sleep, and healthy eating, and do things that relax you and make you happy. Schedule time in the week for yourself, and if your loved one needs full-time support, take this time when they are otherwise engaged in a support group or with another carer. Your life is important, and nobody wants to see you suffer unduly, including your loved one, so look after #1, for the benefit of yourself and those around you.
Attend a support group for caregivers.
It might be a group that is organised by a specific charity or organisation, or it might be an online group, or something that has been set up informally in your local community. Whatever the case, you need to know that you aren’t alone as a caregiver, so meet up with those people who know what you’re going through. The social company will be useful for a start, but you might also draw on the strength and ideas of others to help you in your caregiving role. You might also be a source of help to others, so be prepared to share anything that has made your life easier.
Don’t be afraid of letting go
We know you will do all you can to help your loved one, but when it gets too much for you, it is important to hand over that care to others. Especially when you don’t feel equipped to handle mood changes and lapses back into addictive behaviour, you should call on the assistance of the relevant professionals to take over your caring duties. You or they might have to spend a significant amount of time apart for a while, but that’s okay. Provided they are still getting help, and so long as you aren’t running yourself into the ground, you will both benefit from a little distance.
We hope the advice above was useful to you, but we would love to hear your thoughts. Should you be a caregiver for another, let us know how you have coped, and give us any further advice for the benefit of our readers.
Take care, and thanks for reading.