When a loved one is facing an addiction, the emotional whirlwind can be intense. It’s normal for people in this situation to move rapidly between different emotions in response to changing circumstances.
There may be times of hopelessness, when it feels like the loved one will never change. At other times, hope shines through, such as if the loved one makes a promise to change or seems to be making efforts to stop abusing substances.
Holding onto hope when a loved one is struggling with addiction is a challenging task, especially because it’s not possible to know what the future holds. However, hope can take many forms in the context of a loved one facing an addiction.
It is important to figure out the behaviors we are willing to live with and the ones we aren’t. Then, it is crucial to communicate those with our loved one. These are not threats or ultimatums. This is not about begging, bargaining, or yelling, nor are they attempts to change their behavior.
Boundaries are about taking care of ourselves and refusing to live in situations where we feel hopeless, helpless, or afraid. With practice, we learn to detach from addictive behaviors and allow natural consequences.
While setting boundaries can feel counterintuitive when supporting someone with an addiction, it can be exactly what is needed to maintain and to rebuild the relationship over time.
Oftentimes, we think of enabling behaviors as obvious actions, but in the context of addiction, it is much more complicated than that.
Enabling behaviors take lots of different forms. When we justify someone’s drinking by telling ourselves or others that they’re just going through a tough time or that work is hard right now, we are enabling.
When we control the lives of our loved ones by cancelling social engagements or pouring out their alcohol to “help” them stop, we are enabling.
Not only is understanding enabling important, so is being honest with yourself if you see enabling tendencies in your own behavior. Making strides to change enabling tendencies in yourself will only help your loved one in the long run.
Supporting a loved one with an addiction is a difficult and complex journey, but with the proper tools and support system in place, it can be done in a healthy and safe way. To celebrate National Recovery Month, we will share tips this week on how to support a loved on with an addiction.
An essential part of supporting a friend or family member in their recovery process is learning about addiction, the recovery process itself, and what your role in the recovery process should look like. Having this important information can help you understand how to best support your loved one and help them have a lasting recovery.
A few ways to become educated about addiction and the recovery process include:
Asking professionals from the treatment center your friend/family member attended for information and advice.
Participating in a family program, such as the ones offered by Fellowship Hall.
“I’d like to be the kind of person that can enjoy things at that time, instead of having to go back in my head and enjoy them.” – David Foster Wallace
Being in the moment in our day-to-day lives is hard, especially when life pulls us in so many directions. When we are intentional about being mindful, we are more likely to enjoy the small moments of joy that life brings and less likely to let the chaos of living take over our thoughts & emotions.
Parents contribute significantly to the positive development of their children’s self-esteem. Finding a healthy balance of high expectations with support and encouragement can help to raise confident children who believe in their abilities.
Our newest resource: Setting Family Boundaries & Avoiding Parentification
Busy schedules and never-ending family commitments sometimes means that the older kids in the family take on responsibilities and tasks to help support the entire family. While kids can take on minor tasks to help around the house, it’s important to set boundaries as a parent to avoid the Parentification of children. Parentification occurs when children take on adult responsibilities within the home, both logistically, but also emotionally, such as providing comfort to parents and adults during difficult times.
We’ve worked together with Bringing Out the Best at UNC Greensboro to develop a new resource to help families set boundaries and avoid the Parentification of young children and teens. It is possible to find a balance that works for the entire family without adding unnecessary pressure on younger family members. Download our free E-Book today and learn more!
“Happy couples repair, and they do so early and often.”
Unresolved conflicts can linger in our heads and hearts, and when we don’t take the time to repair the wounds in ourselves and our partner, it can damage our partner relationship long-term.
Learning to repair after conflict can be challenging and it requires both partners to give up the concept of “winning” or being right. The truth about partner relationships is that no one wins when conflict goes unresolved or when one person feels validated, while the other feels unheard.
Some strategies to repair after a conflict include:
Respond to one another’s bids for affection, even if it is hard to do so in the moment. This is tough when our emotions are at a high and if we feel that we are not being heard, but responding to your partner touching your hand or rubbing your shoulder can help you both remember that you are on the same team.
Do something nice for your partner. Even a small act can change the direction of your day and can help you both feel connected after a difficult conversation.
Give space if you or your partner needs it. While it is important to find ways to connect after a conflict, sometimes, giving the other person some space before doing so can help both partners decompress and come back to reconnect more naturally.
Keep practicing these skills, even if it’s not always perfect. It’s important for couples to continue to practice repairing after conflict, even if the first few times are shaky, or if they struggle to do it consistently. Like any skill we learn in life, relationship skills must be practiced in order to feel comfortable using them.
All couples have arguments and conflict, but couples who know how to repair afterwards are more likely to find themselves in a happy, healthy, and safe relationship that lasts the test of time.