Welcome here, everyone!
This month I've had the pleasure of featuring some very brave guest-writers who've been sharing their experiences with us; Their trials, their hardships and of course, their wisdom. Today, I have Lecy Poore from, "A Simpler Grace" gracing the pages of the blog (lol).
Lecy grew up as a sibling of addiction. If you've been following along the past few weeks you may have read, "Real Talk: The Face of Addiction" by another guest writer Kelly Daniel [Click to Read] and her experience growing up as a sibling of addiction. Today, Lecy is sharing practical wisdom on how to support your sibling if you're in the same situation without going nuts!
For the month of August specifically, we've been talking a lot about anxiety. Although addiction is tough, no matter how it touches your life, the suggestions Lecy has given will help reduce anxiety and take care of your own mental health.
Lecy, I'm so happy to have you here this week. It's a blessing to me to have you here sharing a different perspective on addiction. On behalf of the readers, I want to say thank you for being open, down-to-earth and relatable. I know how important it is to know that someone else out there, "Gets it".
If you'd like to get in touch with Lecy, please check out her blog and find her on social, the links are all at the end of this article.
Please join me in warmly welcoming Lecy!
Love The Addict, Love You
I grew up in a family with eight kids, all younger than myself, and although I never thought life would be perfect, I never dreamed that one of us would battle addiction. So when my little brother became addicted to opiates after the sudden death of one of our siblings, it was devastating to our family.
Living with and loving an addict is not easy. Anyone who says it is has not fully experienced the scope of addiction and the havoc it can wreak on the lives of those closest to the one struggling. It is very easy for relationships to become strained and even crumble under the stress of fighting a disease that is so misunderstood and I'm here to tell you that it can be prevented.
It is possible to love and support a family member who is struggling with addiction without losing yourself in the process.
Five Tips to Support a Loved One with an Addiction
1. Support Your Loved One in Their Recovery
It is so important for your loved one to know that you fully support their recovery attempts, and I say, "Attempts" because very often, it will take more than one for them to turn their life around. Having patience is key. You can't "fix" them, but you can offer to be there for them; To listen when they need to talk, to drive them to a recovery meeting, to check in with them when you know there are temptations they're facing.
My brother has known since the beginning that I will always answer the phone when he calls. I will pick him up any time of the day or night if he finds himself in a situation that he needs to get out of quickly. I've offered to go to his NA meetings with him. My brother knows he can knock on my door, and has many times, when he just needs to be in someone's presence and feel like someone understands what he is going through.
Doing what you can to support your loved one in their recovery from addiction will help them feel like they aren't fighting alone but rather, have an army behind them. It will give them a little light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel.
2. Set Boundaries
There's a big difference between supporting someone with addiction and enabling them but the two often get muddled. It's imperative to set boundaries with your loved one to ensure your relationship remains a healthy one and that you aren't hindering them from recovery.
When I stepped forward as a support system in my brother's life, I made it perfectly clear that I would not do anything illegal for him. I would not purchase drugs for him, nor would I give him money to buy them. I would not drive him somewhere to buy drugs and I wouldn't be dishonest with law enforcement if he was caught doing something illegal, in order to keep him from getting in trouble. He understands these boundaries are in place to keep me safe and our relationship healthy and he has never crossed that line.
3. Remember, Your Loved One is Not Their Addiction
If you're close to anyone who has battled addiction, you know it can change a person. When you live a life that revolves around finding your next fix, you become desperate to make sure you can get that fix. You might lie, steal and manipulate to get what you want. Looking from the standpoint of a family member who is trying to be supportive, you have to understand and remember that it's the addiction that is making them do those things.
Your loved one was likely not a liar or a thief before they became hooked.
Addiction changes the way the human brain works, very much like dementia. They are still the person you love but their mind is not functioning the way it should normally work. This is why overcoming addiction is so difficult. They can't just "snap out of it". Recovery is a very long process and must be cultivated in order to be successful.
4. Hold Your Loved One Accountable
Having an accountability partner is key, whether you are trying to lose a few pounds or journeying through sobriety. My brother knows that we (our other siblings and I) are checking in on him and will hold him accountable for the decisions he makes. If he goes missing for several hours and we suspect he could be getting into trouble, you better believe we're calling him asking where he is, who he's with and what he is doing. It might sound harsh to treat an adult that way but if an addict thinks no one is checking up on them, that's one less thing preventing them from making bad decisions.
It's important to remember when holding an addict accountable, that you come from a loving and supportive place. Rather than toss accusations at them, let it be known that you are concerned for their safety and want to support them on their journey to sobriety.
5. Continue Living Your Life
One of the most difficult things about supporting a loved one who struggles with addiction is not allowing yourself to be dragged down in the battle. It's so easy to become wrapped up in the drama, that it becomes YOUR drama and you can't let that happen. This is not your war to fight. Your loved one must want to become sober and they must take the steps necessary to achieve that.
You can't force sobriety on a loved one and you can't make their fight, your life.
Yes, supporting a loved one with addiction is difficult, and I know you want them to become well again, but you must remember that your life is important too. You have to continue to live your life and do the things that bring you joy and I pray that your loved one will find their way back into the light.
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline or in Canada, call 1-800-565-8603 or visit Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) for your local helpline.
Lecy is the writer, photographer and creative behind the lifestyle blog, A Simpler Grace. There, she shares about her love of Jesus, yoga, books, food, style and creativity. She lives in West Virginia, where she nannies for her niece and nephew and is writing her first non-fiction book and creating recipes for a cookbook.
At the time this article was written, my brother was enrolled in a long-term, court-mandated drug treatment facility and has been sober for seven months. He's successfully completed a certificate course in blueprint drafting and looks forward to starting his life over when he is discharged in several months. Prayers are appreciated as he prepares to rejoin society and continue his journey to sober living.