When Addiction Makes Its Way Front and Center and Everywhere In-Between…
UPDATE: My Stepson Drew is doing well and making positive decisions regarding his recovery. I love that we are able to continue to love and support him in a healthy, positive way, one day at a time.
The last couple of years have been incredibly rocky for my husband and I. Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I are best friends and have an incredible relationship. The hard and challenging piece has been keeping hope and faith alive while navigating treatment for my stepson, who has a strong drug addiction, mostly to heroin.
It has been a long road, but we are hanging in there, and with the love and support from family, friends, the Heroes in Recovery community, and the help and support from our friends at The Herren Project, it has been a lot easier. As we have both learned in our own recovery journeys, we just take it all one day at a time.
My husband and I are both in long-term recovery so the road is not unpaved. Yet with any addiction, each of our paths are different. We each own the responsibility to create our own inner journey to find a happy, healthy life, free of addiction.
The journey along this road has come with so many lessons learned, and a roller coaster of feelings and emotions that come with coping strategies and setting boundaries. Anger makes an appearance more than it should, but it comes with other feelings: sadness, hope, grief, love, giving up, holding on, and letting go. Then there is that underlying thread of fear that never seems to disappear. It becomes a full-time job of sorting through the lies, the manipulation, and stories. You want to believe this time is different, yet you have heard those stories a million times over. Setting boundaries, and sticking to them becomes a priority.
We have found a few steps that we have found helpful and lifesaving when it comes to dealing with a loved one that suffers from addiction:
1) Ask for help. It is easier to have someone with you to help navigate the system. There are a lot of choices out there for treatment facilities and sober living care. It is often overwhelming without help.
2) Accept help. This is a big one for a lot of people when they are faced with the stigma that is attached to addiction and mental health issues. As an advocate for Heroes in Recovery, I am working hard to remove that stigma– but the reality is that it still exists. There are a lot of support groups and resources out there to support you and your family at this important time– take advantage of them. You are not alone.
3) It may seem like a given but, take care of yourself. Self-care is probably the most important step. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else. We have heard it before, but when we are in it, it is hard to do. We spend so much time and energy on the addicted person that we lose sight of our own well-being. Keep a routine, exercise, eat well, and STAY connected. It is easy to withdraw in circumstances like this, but what we need most is support, and the connection with other friends and family that love and support us.
4) As a family member, you play a vital role in your loved one’s recovery. You can love them and support them within the boundaries that you set, and still remain in-line with a positive, healthy recovery for the family member.
5) Do your homework and ask a lot of questions. There are a lot of choices out there for treatment and you want to find a treatment plan that treats the whole person. Some questions to ask may include:
- Is the facility licensed?
- Do they take my insurance?
- What are the credentials of staff members?
- Do they offer dual-diagnosis treatment?
- What is the environment like of the center and where is it located?
- What are the rules for visitation and family?
- What types of therapies and activities are offered?
- Is it a 12-step program?
- How long does treatment last?
Some of the most comforting words in the universe are “me too”. That moment when you find out that your struggle is also someone else’s struggle, that you are not alone, and that others have been down the same road. There are so many resources available that help and support the recovery community. None of us need to feel alone.
Here are a few great resources that we have used and have found very helpful:
Here are some tips from Foundations Recovery Network on encouraging sobriety:
Accept without judgment, create a substance free environment, actively listen, suggest joining a support group if they are not in one already and set up a relapse prevention plan. Be patient, recovery is a long process. Your love and support are invaluable. Empower your loved ones to take control of their own life.
“Loving someone struggling with addiction expands our own capability to love, if we allow it. It’s not always easy to work through the frustration, anger, and confusion we feel and dig down to find the love we have for someone, but it’s our love that they will remember and our love that can bring them back. We have to try and love them home.” – Anonymous