Self-Care Is Essential for the Loved Ones of Addicts

Addiction has sometimes been called the family disease. It gets this name because addiction doesn’t only affect the person abusing substances; it affects every person in the family. In fact, for families who have lived with addiction for years, certain family roles develop as a result of the presence of addiction.

It’s common for families to try to go on with their lives as though the addiction didn’t exist. It’s as though the denial of the addict spreads throughout the family. However, as everyone continues to stay quiet about the elephant in the room, at some point the elephant becomes harmful. And every member of the family feels it.

It’s common for loved ones of alcoholics and addicts to experience the following:

  • Loneliness
  • Guilt
  • Resentment
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of sleep
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Despair

Furthermore, loved ones may develop poor communication styles, unhealthy ways of relating to others, and lack trust in others and in the world. Loved ones of addicts might notice their spiritual connection to a higher being deteriorate and they may slowly stop doing what brought them experiences of pleasure in life – such as spending time with friends.  In fact, some loved ones feel a great deal of burden. They may feel responsible for trying to hold the family together.

Because of the many feelings and challenges that loved ones of addicts experience, it’s important to take plenty of time for self care. If you are a loved one of an addict, you might begin to think about your own needs and taking good care of yourself. In fact, the energy that you’re investing in trying to hold everything together is better spent investing in yourself.

Self care can give you a greater capacity to face challenging moments, difficult family experiences, and overwhelming emotions. When you have a relaxed state of mind, you have a greater ability to face challenge in a healthy way. It’s important to remember that you’re not responsible for the feelings of others – only your own.

Here are some suggestions for relaxation and self care:

  • Exercise. This releases endorphins and promotes emotional well-being.
  • Step outside. Enjoy the sun and fresh air. You might try to find a beautiful view or landscape.
  • Practice yoga. Yoga is a practice, a form of exercise, which invites an integrated experience of body and mind. Its effects can be experienced immediately as well as over time.
  • Play with your dog or cat. Pets can creating a feeling of being loved and needed. When we spend time with them we can easily feel their love for us and this alone can help us relax.
  • Listen to music. Soft and relaxing music can influence mood. If you’re feeling stressed, listen to music that is slow and calming.
  • Make yourself a steaming cup of tea. Teas like chamomile or peppermint can help relax the body.
  • Practice meditation. Meditation can relax the mind and the body for a sustained state of relaxation throughout the day.

These are a few suggestions for self care throughout the day. In fact, making self care a practice daily can bring many benefits for you and your family.


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