After accepting the reality of chemical dependency and learning to love an addicted loved one or friend without enabling, you may find yourself asking, “Will life ever be ‘normal’ again? How can I find happiness when things seem so hard?”
It’s a great question—and one that doesn’t come with easy answers.
The most important thing to remember as you try to reclaim your joy: You can’t rely on others (including your chemically dependent child, parent or loved one) for your happiness. Instead, you need to be proactive and take responsibility for your own emotional well-being.
Five Steps Family Members Can Take to Reclaiming Joy During Recovery
Chances are you may have noticed symptoms like sleepless nights, physical health problems or feelings of anger and depression as you navigate a family member’s substance misuse. Being part of an addicted loved one’s life is stressful, but it doesn’t have to consume you.
Try these small steps toward finding peace and joy when your world is upside-down, and get professional help before family addiction burdens become too much to bear.
- Remember: Your addicted family member is not your personal project. As you learn to support a recovering loved one, frame them in your mind as a person to be loved and encouraged rather than a project to be fixed. The power of recovery comes from personal accountability, and this is true of family members as well as alcoholics and drug users. You can only control YOU. Trying to assert control over a chemically dependent person sets you up for relationship conflict and personal frustration.
- Put self-care in perspective. If self-care seems like a chore, you’re doing it wrong. On the days you’d rather shut down, do ONE SMALL THING that makes you happy. Don’t have the energy for your usual intense workout? Walk to the mailbox and give thanks for the warm sun on your face. Commit to a five-minute yoga sequence when you get out of bed. Play with your dog for 10 minutes. Unplug from your phone or work email for an hour. We tend to think of self-care as a day at the spa or a weekend away, but it’s likely you won’t have the energy to embark on a sabbatical or plan a weekend adventure. Find pleasure in little things until your energy returns.
- Practice relaxation. When anxiety and stress threaten your well-being, find a go-to relaxation strategy. Popular ways to relax include deep breathing and meditation exercises, using a progressive muscle relaxation technique, or embracing journaling as a stress-relief process. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH) discusses other relaxation techniques and recommendations for their use.
- Form & enforce boundaries. As you go through family treatment for drug or alcohol misuse, you’ll learn to improve communication skills and manage conflict constructively. Setting limits is key to navigating addicted relationships. Communicate your boundaries in a straightforward fashion to avoid the guilt or shame that comes with saying “no.” Reward yourself when you stick to your boundaries and ask friends or family members to help you stand strong in your convictions.
- Prioritize a healthy lifestyle. While supporting a drug or alcohol-dependent loved one, it’s important to manage stress and mood fluctuation with proper diet and plentiful sleep. Rely on friends and therapists when you need to talk, and participate in a family treatment program—where you’ll learn to embrace practical and emotional self-care steps when supporting a sober family member.
Guiding You Through Your Unique Recovery Journey
Vista Taos’ accredited program for drug and alcohol treatment is designed to meet families where they are and develop customized recovery plans for each person who walks through our doors. Trust our team of addiction specialists to accompany you on the journey to healing. To learn more about our holistic approach to addiction and alcoholism treatment, call 575.613.9014 or submit a confidential inquiry online.
It is possible to find happiness and fulfillment, even amid confusion, pain and relational problems. At our beautiful campus set in the awe-inspiring southernmost Rockies, Vista Taos Renewal Center inspires you and your loved one to reclaim happiness, purpose and possibility. A meaningful life of sobriety is one step away. Begin the journey to joy right now.
Not sure if you or someone you love is addicted to drugs or alcohol? Use our Addiction Self-Test or call 575.613.9014 to speak with our Admissions specialists about common addiction symptoms.