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Tending to Your Strength: Self-Care Strategies for Supporting Someone with Addiction

In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside ~ Deepak Chopra 

Loving someone battling addiction can be an isolating and emotionally draining experience. Family and friends become collateral damage, caught in a web of constant fear, worry and broken trust. Broken promises and erratic behaviour erode family dynamics and wear down even the strongest relationships. Financial burdens can arise from supporting the addiction, fuelling resentment and straining budgets. Social gatherings become fraught, with family events overshadowed by the possibility of relapse. The constant cycle of hope and disappointment that comes with addiction takes a toll on everyone. Yet, in the midst of this storm, you, whether you are a caregiver, a close relative, spouse or best mate, have a crucial role to play. Your well-being directly impacts your ability to offer effective support and be a resilient haven for your loved one.  

“When we are caring for a loved one through addiction,” says Raindrum Psychotherapist Samantha Molineux, “self-care can often feel like an afterthought, overshadowed by the relentlessness of caring for another.” However, taking care of yourself is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. 

“Carers also need support and a safe space to process emotions, gain perspective and learn effective coping strategies moving forward.”  

~Psychotherapist Samantha Molineux 

“There is a balance between giving and establishing healthy boundaries to protect all loved ones,” Samantha says. A resilient caregiver is better equipped to offer compassionate support and weather the storms of addiction.  

Here are 10 self-care strategies to help you navigate this challenging journey: 

  1. Embrace Your Limits: Accepting that you can’t control or cure the addiction is the first step toward self-preservation. You are not responsible for their choices, their recovery, or their happiness. Setting healthy boundaries protects your energy and prevents co-dependency. Learn to say “no” without guilt, delegate tasks, and focus on what you can realistically manage.
  2. Build Your Support System: No one should face this alone. “Having a strong support network of friends, family and other caregivers,” says Samantha, “can provide emotional support and validation, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness. Sharing your experience and seeking guidance creates a safety net, fostering connection and practical support.
  3. Prioritise Emotional Wellness: Don’t become a martyr. Schedule time for yourself, for activities that bring you joy and peace. Read a book, take a walk in nature, listen to music – prioritise activities that nurture your spirit and replenish your emotional reserves. If you know it works for you, practice relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing to manage stress and anxiety.
  4. Fuel Your Body and Mind: What we eat and how we move greatly impacts our mental and emotional health. Nourish your body with healthy, balanced meals. Engage in regular physical activity, even a brisk walk. Exercise releases endorphins, boosting mood and resilience. Prioritise rest and practice good sleep hygiene for optimal physical and mental recovery.
  5. Set Healthy Boundaries: Addiction often blurs boundaries. Don’t enable their behaviour by covering for them, making excuses, or bailing them out. Set clear boundaries around acceptable behaviour, finances, and personal space. Communication is key – calmly assert your needs and be prepared to enforce consequences if boundaries are crossed.
  6. Challenge Negative Thoughts: The negativity surrounding addiction can easily warp your thinking. Be wary of ruminating thoughts and self-blame. Practice cognitive reframing – challenge negative thoughts with logic and evidence. Affirm your worth and remember that you are not responsible for someone else’s choices.
  7. Grieve and Express Emotions: Dealing with addiction involves loss – loss of trust, stability, and the person you once knew. Acknowledge your grief and allow yourself to express your emotions healthily. Journaling, talking to a therapist, or creative outlets can help you process these difficult feelings.
  8. Celebrate Small Victories: Recovery is rarely linear. Focus on celebrating small steps forward, both yours and your loved one’s. Acknowledge efforts, even if progress feels slow. Positive reinforcement fosters hope and strengthens your bond.
  9. Invest in Personal Growth: This challenging journey can be an opportunity for personal growth. Explore your own vulnerabilities and areas for improvement. Consider therapy, attending educational workshops, or reading self-help books. Investing in your well-being not only benefits you but also strengthens your overall support system.
  10. Seek Professional Help: When overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Therapists and programs specialising in addiction and co-dependency can provide invaluable guidance and support. They can equip you with coping mechanisms, communication skills, and strategies for navigating difficult situations.

Self-care practices,” says Samantha, “can help caregivers manage stress and maintain their physical and mental health. Taking Breaks and allowing oneself time for relaxation and rejuvenation is essential for preventing burnout and maintaining resilience in the face of challenges.” 

Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish; it’s essential. Be kind to yourself, celebrate your efforts, and embrace the support available. As you tend to your own needs, you become a pillar of strength for your loved one, walking alongside them on the path to recovery, one mindful step at a time. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or substance abuse, getting professional help is crucial. Raindrum offers discreet, bespoke, one-on-one residential treatment programs in private, exclusive accommodation supported by a curated team of medical specialists, nurses and care staff so that our clients can receive the support they need in a safe, comfortable environment.  For more information or to have a confidential chat with one of our program coordinators, visit us at www.raindrum.com.au or call on 1300 007 607.  

Further Resources: 

  • Mental Health Line 1800 011 511  
  • 13 Yarn – 13 92 76 – For Aboriginal and TSI people who are going through a tough time and feel like having a yarn.

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