Regardless of the status of your loved one’s recovery program or lack thereof, I recommend to clients that they educate themselves about substance abuse to discover as much as they can on a personal level. This blog is not about your part from a non-enabling, or stronger boundaries viewpoint, but is of a more specific nature.
We all know knowledge is power, therefore the more you learn, the calmer your state of mind will be.
Here are some concepts to consider which may help when furthering your education of your loved ones addiction issues:
Do Your Own Research on Addiction
Investigate the substance that you believe your loved one is using or may be addicted to. Opinions and facts are different. Stick to the facts and not the opinions of well-meaning friends who could cloud your head with misinformation. The more you know about your loved one’s addiction, its characteristics and traits, the more confident you can be in a conversation regarding their specific situation. You won’t be caught off guard or caught up with another’s opinion if you’ve already done your own research. That said, don’t overload yourself by spending countless hours reading about what amounts to quite depressing material. The description of heroin and its side effects will not change no matter how many sources you check out.
Be Wary of Well-Meaning Advice
Please don’t take the advice of family members and friends as gospel. Although they are only trying to be of help, formulate your own conclusion. They may suggest that you do one thing or another. However, even if they have experienced a similar situation, remember that everyone’s issues are different, and complex dynamics come into play. What might have worked for them may not work for you.
Be Mindful of Who You Talk To
You might want to think twice about discussing your struggles or a loved one’s addiction issues with friends, certain family members or relatives. This is not because you are ashamed or fearful of their judgment, but because you may be opening yourself up to their advice or opinion. It could put an unnecessary strain on your relationships, especially if you don’t take the advice. Also, friendships can be very precarious and delicate. Although your friend might ache for your pain and suffering, if that’s all you end up talking about it may become too much of a burden for the person to handle. Additionally, information regarding your loved one’s addiction could prove detrimental if it finds its way to the workplace or is brought into other relationships. Remember, no matter how upset you are, or how desperate you feel to unload your burden, be respectful of your loved one’s privacy. Unless they give you permission to discuss their situation openly or with certain individuals, allow them to tell who they want, when they want.
Attend Open Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings (meetings open to anyone with or without an addiction issue)
This is the first order of business I suggest to my new clients as it gives them an honest look at the struggles and successes of other alcoholic/addicts.
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