Addiction can be a long and harrowing journey for everyone involved. The focus is usually on the addict and the recovery. Loved ones often fail to get the support during the ordeal. They are often physically and emotionally drained from the experience. Addiction may also last for many years, causing some friends to back away completely. It is difficult to be available at all times, even if you want to be helpful. Friends of addicts must set limits and find balance. Otherwise, their entire lives get put on hold along with the addict. Take some time to better understand the role of friends and a few coping strategies.
Recognize Your Feelings
You are going to experience many different emotions throughout the months or years of your friend’s addiction. It is important to realize that they are all valid. At first, you’ll probably feel sympathy for your friend, and may be motivated to help. Overextending yourself, however, often leads to resentment and anger. Inconvenience and discomfort become a part of your life, and if your friend shows no progress in recovery, you end up exhausted and deeply saddened, as though you have suffered a loss.
There may be a time when you are completely overwhelmed and worn out. You may try to keep going. However, you become increasingly irritable and offer little support. It is alright to take a step back from the situation. During this entire process, you also need to be taking care of yourself. When you allow yourself to get drained of all energy, you cannot help your friend. Lessen your visits, enlist some help, and spend a quiet day with family. You can explain to your friend that you are going to take a little break. Be gentle, yet honest about your needs. They may not understand, however, you are doing the right thing.
Remember To Live
Those who genuinely care for their friends often feel guilty for surviving this life without addiction. You may look at your ability to hold a job, as social life, and to have kids and feel like you should be miserable too. That is can quickly make you detach from your own life. You are a great help to your friend because of the person you are. It is perfectly fine to continue to live your life and take care of your responsibilities. If you allow this guilt to take over, your friends and family may suffer, as well. Enjoy a night out, be thankful for your job, and take your usual summer vacation.
Gain Some Perspective
Many friends of addicts end up in counseling. A professional can better help you look at the situation in a healthier way. When frustration sets in, many find solace in the fact that addiction is a disease. Your friend is not becoming a monster, nor do they hate you. Their outbursts and poor actions result from something that has taken over their mind and body, not from anything you’ve done.
It is also important to remember that you may not be able to save them. Even with the best medical care, many addicts remain in recovery for years, and the struggle often lasts a lifetime. You must adjust to this new reality, continue to show genuine care for your friend.
When an individual is suffering from addiction, friends and family go through many stages of feelings. Supportive roles are often challenging to maintain, and there are times when you may want to walk away for good. Taking care of yourself physically and mentally is just as important as being available to your friend. Allow some time to focus on your own needs and well-being, even if it means stepping back for a while, and tend to your other life roles, such as family member or parent. Counseling, breaks, and realization of feelings can all help you cope with someone else’s addiction.