10 Nov Treating the Family & Practicing Self Care
In the midst of the whirlwind that is getting a child into treatment, finding resources to get them help, selecting a good place, convincing them to get help and then nervously monitoring their progress, parents forget to do one of the most important things of all: self care.
We say that the disease of addiction is a family disease because of how greatly it impacts those around the addict. Everyone who loves the addict suffers, and it is generally suggested that when a loved one is getting sober that family members also get counseling. Parents find themselves over-stressed and under-rested, so consumed with spending every waking moment thinking about their child that they completely forget to take care of themselves.
What does self care look like?
There are several ways that a parent can practice self-care, some involving professionals like counselors or therapists, and others that can be done at home such as deep breathing or taking a hot bath. These two types of self care are not mutually exclusive, in fact seeking help from a therapist and also practicing daily self-care rituals is suggested for optimal health and wellness. The truth is that if you as a parent are not well and are too stressed, then not only will you have a hard time being there for your child your own mental and physical health will suffer.
Parents may experience breakdowns and emotional traumas when their child is an addict, and not addressing those issues with a professional can create deep-seated issues down the road. It is so important that while the addict is recovering that the family is able to do so as well. This gives the entire family system the best chance at a full and healthy recovery. There are tons of resources for parents whose children are suffering from addiction, both online and in person. Many treatment and recovery centers offer counseling specifically for the family, or may have a “family weekend” where members of the family can come and do process work. For example New Life House incorporates the family into many aspects of the recovery process because they understand how crucial it is that the entire family be addressed. Aside from recovery places, seeking out a good therapist or counselor is also highly encouraged. These professionals can help parents learn more about interacting with their addicted child, about setting healthy boundaries and opening up communication. If there is resentment or fear on the parents end (which there almost always is) then therapy presents a great place to work through those feelings as well.
Aside from treatment centers and therapists, there are a number of support groups geared towards parents whose loved ones are addicts, one of the most well known being Al-Anon. Here those with loved ones who are or have been addicted can come together to share their experience, strength and hope with one another. Just as sharing and opening up is a huge part of the recovery process in AA, so it is with Al-Anon as well. By talking about their fears concerns or current conflicts, parents can offer each other valuable insight and support. There are also options for parents who want to become more educated about drug and alcohol abuse where they can better understand what addiction looks like and how to come at it head on. These drug and alcohol education classes can be invaluable for parents who feel completely lost and over their head in the battle against the disease of addiction.
Self Care Rituals
Everyone’s version of self-care looks different, some people find watching a football game relaxing while others might prefer to go on a long hike. Each individual needs to identify what sorts of self care rituals are best for them, and then practice doing them consistently. If need be, set an alarm on your phone or a timer that reminds you it’s time to do some self-care. Set down plans so that you know when your self-care time will be and don’t let outside influences stop you from making that commitment to yourself. Maybe you want to go to the gym every day at 2pm. Make that commitment and see how much better you feel after an hour dedicated to your own well-being.
It is very important to remember that practicing self care and seeking help from others does not make you selfish or weak. Remember that by taking better care of yourself you can be better prepared to engage with and help your child. If the parent suffers everyone else in the family does as well. Your well-being comes first so that you can be the best parent possible.