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Self-Care for Loved Ones During Drug Addiction

By: Carol Morriscey

Couple making a healthy meal as part of a self-care routine, while they take care of a loved one going through drug addiction treatment. Addiction—a chronic disease—puts a large toll on both the individual suffering from addiction, as well as those caring for them. Indeed, the chronic nature of addiction requires a sustainable approach to treatment and recovery for everyone involved. The majority of care is aimed toward the individual suffering from addiction, leaving the loved ones, who are proving care and support, worn out. As a result, when helping someone with an addiction self-care should be central, in order to avoid burn-out and resentment. Of course, this is easier said than done, but will certainly pay off. Taking a holistic approach to treating a drug addiction, means taking care of the caregivers as well, in order to restore a well-balanced life following addiction treatment.

Don’t Blame Yourself for the Addiction

Often, friends and family of a loved one suffering from addiction find a way to place the blame on themselves. Yet, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Addiction is a disease related to the reward pathways in the brain, making the positive effects of a drug particularly alluring and making the user feel that it is nearly impossible to stop using the drug. Just as addiction is not a moral failing of the drug user, it is no more a failure of their loves ones. In order to achieve a full recovery, it is important to recognize addiction as a disease, and not to blame yourself.

You Can’t Help Others Without Helping Yourself

When providing first aid, you always must make sure you’re not putting yourself in danger first. The principle underlying this is simple—you’re not able to help anyone if you become ill or injured. The same principle holds true when supporting a loved one through addiction treatment. In order to be the best support for your loved one, you must make sure that you are taken care of first. Be sure to take time for yourself to eat properly, exercise, sleep, and de-stress. In turn, this will help you support your loved one through their drug addiction treatment.

Make Addiction Recovery a Group Effort

Because addiction not only affects the drug user, but all of their loved ones, it is important to aim for recovery for all who were affected by the addiction. This is often achieved through support, communication and forgiveness. By working together toward sobriety, relationships become stronger and caregivers and drug users are able to heal together.

Having social support is a crucial part of achieving and sustaining sobriety following a drug addiction. If caregivers do not take the time required for self-care, social support may dwindle, as result of fatigue, increasing the risk of relapse. Indeed, self-care for caregivers and loved ones is in everyone’s best interest!

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National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers International Security for Traumatic Stress Studies The Canadian Positive Psychology Association The Association for Addiction Professionals
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