Drug addiction and recovery in New York and Princeton can be just as hard on the family members of addicts as the addicts themselves. As family members see an addict continue to delve deeper into drug use, it can evoke powerful emotions including guilt, fear, anger and shame.
Regardless of where your loved one is in his or her addiction or recovery, there are many points to keep in mind as the family member of an addict:
- Your loved one’s addiction is not your fault. It is beyond your ability to cure or control—do not blame yourself.
- You can control your own behavior. Though you are not to blame for your loved one’s behavior, you can choose not to enable his or her drug use. You should also not allow yourself to be exploited by your loved one—remember to always protect yourself and your dignity.
- Your loved one’s actions are more important than his or her words. One visit to a doctor, a few days off drugs or a call to a treatment center without following through are not convincing evidence that your loved one is committed to recovery.
- It will not help to cover up your loved one’s behavior. Trying to protect your loved one from the consequences of his or her addiction will make you an accomplice and only further facilitate drug use.
- It will not help to nag, blame, threaten, accuse or guilt trip your loved one. This will only produce negative feelings that provide further excuses for drug use and will not help your loved one change.
Sometimes, an addiction recovery program can produce intense emotions for family members that a loved one’s drug use did not. If your loved one has recently entered a treatment program, remember:
- Your loved one is not leaving you behind. Treatment can make you feel less needed now that you no longer have to cope with the fallout of your loved one’s addiction. Resist the urge to feel jealous or resentful of your loved one’s new friends and support system in recovery.
- Your loved one’s treatment program does not make him or her “cured.” The threat of relapse is very real. Learn the signs of relapse and consider how you might respond to a relapse situation in a calm and positive way.
- Don’t forget to focus on yourself. Your loved one’s treatment program is a time for you to recover as well. Use your own resources and support systems and remain aware of signs that may suggest you’re relapsing into behaviors that will not help you or your loved one recover.
Family treatment programs are often important in helping both the addict and his or her family members recover. Talk to your loved one’s addiction specialist about your role in his or her treatment program.