If there is a drug addict in your life, you already know the negative impact of that addiction stretches far beyond just the addict. Loving and caring about someone who is addicted to drugs is stressful. There really is no way around it. You worry about them and you always fear the worst. It’s hard to sleep. It’s hard to eat. It’s hard to think about anything other than what your loved one is doing and whether or not they’ll survive. We’ve already talked about how you can get your loved one help for their drug addiction but it’s time now to talk about something that’s just as important – how to cope with a loved one’s drug addiction. You need to take care of yourself and you need to find ways to cope or that cycle of pain will just continue. Let’s talk now about what you can do to cope with a loved one’s drug addiction so that addiction doesn’t destroy your life too.
Learn about drug addiction.
When we talked about getting your loved one help for their drug addiction, we talked about how important it is to learn as much as you can about addiction, but that’s an important part of the coping process as well. As they say, knowledge is power. Although all drug addicts are different, trying to understand what they’re going through physically, emotionally and mentally can be a good way to get a new perspective on the addiction. A little research into addiction can also help you understand what you can expect from your loved one while you’re trying to get them help or even while you’re just trying to deal with them. Knowing what you can expect is a great way to prepare yourself for the tough journey you’re about to embark on.
Understand it’s the drugs talking.
While your loved one is abusing drugs, they’re likely to say or do things that hurt you in a very real way. More often than not, the things they are doing and saying are the result of their addiction and it’s very important to try to understand that. That isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Addicts have a unique way of exploiting weaknesses and hitting where it hurts. When someone says or does something that cuts us to the very core, it’s hard not to take it personally. It isn’t personal though. It really is the drugs talking. Your loved one’s body and mind is being torn to bits by the drug they’re abusing. They’ll say and do things they wouldn’t normally do to try to get their next fix and this goes beyond just words.
As I’ve already said, addicts will do anything they can to get their drug and that sometimes means hurting the people they love. Try to understand that they feel guilt about this – or at least will once they come out on the other side of their addiction. In the meantime though, try to be prepared. Your loved one may:
- Lie to you.
- Steal from you.
- Break things.
- Call you names or insult you.
- Use past painful memories or events against you.
- Use your own past mistakes against you.
- Blame you.
- Threaten you with violence or actually become violent against you.
- Threaten suicide.
That’s really only the tip of the iceberg. Addicts are unpredictable. Your loved one isn’t in control of themselves any more. The drugs are in the driver’s seat but that’s so easy to forget. Take a step back, collect yourself and try to remind yourself that it really is the drugs talking.
Don’t put the blame on yourself.
Unless you grabbed your loved one and forced drugs into their body, you are not to blame. The only person to blame for an addict’s drug problem is the addict. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be sympathetic. Few people, if any, start using drugs to become an addict. They may be trying to escape some sort of traumatic pain and perhaps you even had a hand in causing that pain but in the end, using drugs was their choice. Everyone has their cross to bear. Everyone has something they have to deal with. Whether you should’ve seen signs sooner, tried to get them help sooner or could’ve helped them find help sooner is irrelevant. What matters is the present. You need to put aside any guilt you feel and focus on helping your loved one.
Carry on with your own life.
It is easy to get consumed with your loved one’s addiction because you’re constantly worrying about what happens next but it is important to make sure you carry on with your own life. Find what makes you happy and spend a little time every day doing it. Make sure you take time to focus on yourself. While you’re helping your loved one recover, life can easily become all about their battle but don’t forget you’re fighting a battle of your own. Force yourself to take time to focus on your battle. Force yourself to take time to look after yourself for you and for your loved one.
Whether your loved one is in recovery or is still in the depths of their addiction, your won life needs to continue moving forward. You have to continue working on yourself. You can’t let your loved one’s addiction destroy your life. Keep going to work. Keep going to school. Spend time with your family. Keep yourself busy. Find a new television show you can get lost in. Make a list of movies you’ve been meaning to check out and spend your free time watching them. Avoid spending all your free time worrying. It isn’t good for you and in the end; it isn’t good for your loved one. When they get through the fog of their addiction, they’re going to have a lot to feel guilty about. Destroying your life is going to be one more thing on that list.
Don’t lose hope.
Hope is a hard thing to hold onto when someone you love is an addict. You might see them change before your eyes. The person you love can become someone much different once the drugs take hold of them but that person isn’t gone. The person you love is still in there. Hope doesn’t mean blindly believing that your loved one will get better. If they have rejected help and are insisting they don’t have a problem, they may not get better – at least not right away. That doesn’t mean you have to give up hoping that they will see the truth and decide to get help. When it comes to a loved one’s addiction, hope simply means that you keep your heart open and ready if and when they decide it’s time to make a change. Holding on to your hope also helps you cope with your loved one’s addiction because without hope, there is no light at the end of the tunnel and there can be no belief that things will get better.
Get help for yourself.
One of the greatest things you can do for yourself when coping with a loved one’s addiction is to talk about what you’re going through. There are lots of great support groups all over the world filled with people who are going through what you’re going through. Sometimes just having someone there to listen and to understand is the best coping tool a person has. Let’s be honest though. Not everyone is going to feel comfortable sitting in a room full of strangers – even if those strangers share a common problem – to talk about their feelings. This is where the internet can come in handy. Sign up for online support groups. You can remain anonymous which can make it much easier to really open up. You may be surprised just how many people are going through what you’re going through. People who have been through it can help you find ways to cope. Your loved one isn’t weak for needing help and you aren’t either.