Let’s face it. The holidays can be a stressful time for families – especially if you have a loved one with an alcohol or drug addiction.
First, there’s the frenzy in the air and what seems like a million things to do. Second, our feelings are often magnified around this time. We may feel exhausted, over-committed and extra sensitive. We often expect everything to be perfect, aspiring to some idealized version of how things should be. But the truth is that life, especially with an addicted family member, can be messy and chaotic. This can leave us feeling disappointed, frustrated or wistful.
You may feel alone – like you’re the only family in the whole world dealing with a substance abuse issue. Please know that you are not alone. And, while it may seem impossible to enjoy yourself when a love one’s life is out of control, there are things you can do to make yourself feel better.
This post from The Center for Motivation and Change offers guidance. We hope you enjoy reading it and that it inspires you to find some relief and happiness during this time of year and beyond.
By Cindy Brody, Director of Intensive Services at Center for Motivation & Change
Sometimes you might feel like you’re the only person in the world who loves someone with a substance problem. The truth is that many millions of people are walking down this challenging and often painful road. As you’re dealing with all of this, you might notice that, on purpose or by accident, you start to pull away from other people and become more and more isolated, which then can make it even harder to decide to reach out. We encourage you to watch out for this and do what you can to fight against urges to go “underground.” We are wired to be social creatures, and there is a lot to be gained from spending time with people, including their support!
You may have concerns about privacy, gossip, and the “public” perception of your loved one/yourself/your family if you put yourself out there and socialize more. While those are reasonable concerns to think about as you pick and choose who you do and don’t want to confide in, please do not underestimate the horrible toll that feeling isolated in a problem can have on you. Isolation contributes to and can increase depression, anxiety, loneliness, and a whole host of other challenges that will not serve you well as you are dealing with all of this. Taking steps to add more social contact into your life can chip away just a little, or a lot, of the feeling that you are alone at sea.
Even if you don’t feel that isolation is a big part of your stress right now, you might still consider setting some goals around socializing to see if it helps anyway – isolation can creep up on you. This can be especially true for people who are used to being very busy and having a hard time fitting social time on the calendar, solving all of their problems pretty effectively on their own, not in the habit of asking for help (or maybe even dead-set against it!), and feeling private or ashamed about this particular issue. Remember this: you are not alone in this problem and fighting against isolation may well help you find solutions to your problems faster.
We encourage you to consider picking one way you can reach out to another person/people this week during the holidays and continue to do so in the coming weeks and months.
Remember that reaching out doesn’t have to mean that you share all your innermost thoughts and feelings with someone. It doesn’t have to be a confessional (though if that helps, then go for it), just a way to re-engage with the world in other than a “stressing out” way. You can get support in all kinds of ways, so think about not only who might be useful to confide in, but also who is good at making you laugh, distracting you, doing something fun with you, and who is good at helping you feel comfortable and relaxed so that you can enjoy the holidays.
The Center for Motivation & Change (CMC) is a unique, NYC-based private group practice of dedicated clinicians and researchers providing non-ideological, evidence-based, effective treatment of addictive disorders and other compulsive behaviors. CMC’s treatment approach is informed by a strong commitment to both the humanity and the science of change, providing a unique, compelling, and inspiring environment in which to begin the process of change. Staffed by a group of experienced psychologists, CMC takes pride in their collective record of clinical research and administrative experience but most of all are driven by an optimism about people’s capacity to change and a commitment to the science of change.
Learn more about Center for Motivation & Change and read about our unique and effective approach to treating addictive disorders, and meet CMC’s directorial staff and clinical staff. To find more resources for families, please see our Parent’s 20 Minute Guide, and our Family Blog. And to learn more about CRAFT, see our CRAFT Family Services page. Find us on Facebook and Twitter for additional content and the latest updates.
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