I devote this article to the family members and friends of those who are suffering from a drug addiction. However, the same principles described in the article could be applied by the nearest and dearest ones of those who are addicted to alcohol or suffer from other addictive behaviours.
Can you quit without being addicted…
It might sound strange that one can be addicted without taking drugs, and yet our lives revolve around the life of a loved one who is addicted to drugs, and basically around drugs themselves.
While the addicted one is concerned with how to get drugs, how to store them, how to take them unnoticed and how to get more, the cycle repeats itself, the lives of the family members of the one who is addicted revolve around the issues if the loved one will take drugs today. And if not, if it is really for good that he/she stopped or not. We end up thinking about drugs 24/7 without actually taking any.
We live in constant uncertainty without the power to control the behaviour of the nearest and dearest one who is addicted. And make no mistake, it is the reality of our lives with drugs, without taking any.
We feel powerless and unable to change anything. When everything seems to be fine and our loved one is not taking anything, the worst seems to come, and everything starts all over again, despite the endless promises and numerous attempts to change and stop it.
We lose confidence in ourselves, in our ability to live a normal life.
We hide the issue from everyone around, we make up excuses for the one addicted if the weird behaviour comes to the attention of someone else.
We didn't even notice how we got ourselves into something like that, into living in a cycle of lies and excuses.
In all this madness that our life has become, we seem to have got trapped and unable to see any way out.
A Turning Point
But there comes a day when we realise that we can't live with drugs of the loved one, we can't carry on like that any more. We need to escape this vicious cycle, we need a fresh start...
Miguel A. Amutio/Unsplash
We can’t cope with it any longer neither physically, nor emotionally. We simply need to breathe.
And there comes realization that life cannot revolve around drugs only-even around the drugs of the loved one and his/her addiction.
How can we help our loved ones who struggle with an addiction if we feel powerless and helpless ourselves?
How can we instill confidence in them that they can manage to sort out their lives if we are under the control of their own addiction?
At this point we realise that only we are in control of our lives and we cannot help and change anybody unless they are willing to accept our help.
We need to draw the line as to when it is enough to allow the loved ones who are addicted to destroy our physical and mental health and our lives in general.
We need to let go of control over their lives (our attempts to control their addiction and their life with no positive outcome) and let ourselves breathe.
Hannah Busing, Unsplash
Because if we don't, we will never clear up our head as to what is ok to put up with and what is not.
Because if we don't, we will live in a cycle of anxiety and depression.
Because if we don't, we will be going mad every time the addicted loved one will break his/her promise and our heart again.
Because if we don't, we will live in constant mess for the rest of our lives.
Light at the End of a Tunnel
When we have come to realise that we cannot carry on like that any more-constantly trying to live the life of the one who is addicted and trying to change his/her behavioural patterns- we can grow stronger and make a difference in our own life.
When you are mentally strong, you can stay productive in times of crisis.
When you are mentally strong, you can deal with the crisis in your own life efficiently.
When you are mentally strong, you can help another person but only if he/she is ready for changes.
We need to stop our controlling behaviour, sort our own heads and learn to get the control of our own lives by managing ourselves only.
We need to let go of managing the one who is suffering from an addiction because this is our attempt to manage ourselves, only we try to do it via another person who is addicted. This is rather unproductive.
By learning to manage ourselves, we would have achieved much more control over our lives and empowerment.
Learning More About Yourself and Your Personal Empowerment
Firstly it is necessary to accept the situation as it is(that we are a family member of a drug addict or an alcoholic, choose what applies to you) and understand that certain things are not within your control.
It is vital that we accept our feelings and how we feel about this situation. Many people express anger, hopelessness, shame and guilt that they have not managed to keep their “child” away from drugs and that they then were unable to stop his/her addiction.
Going through all of these feelings is a part of the process. These feelings have to be acknowledged and lived through. You can no longer push them away and continue to pretend that “all is alright”. Because it is not.
Letting go of the attempts to control the destructive behaviour of the addicted one is essential. If he/she is unwilling to seek help with regards to the addiction, there is no point in trying to control and change the life of that person. In such attempts you will forget who you are, you will neglect your health, your well-being and life in general.
You won’t notice it straight away, you will slowly be giving yourself away to the destructive influence of the addicted loved one next to you, and everybody will be able to see it.
You will be the last person to realise it and notice any destructive changes in your life because you will be busy covering up the consequences of the actions of the addicted one.
You need to let go of the attempts to control and manage the life of the addicted loved one.
How can I let him/her get on with his/her life, I hear you saying…There is no easy solution here.
All of us have gone through the process of letting go of controlling attempts before we were able to recover ourselves and start a new life. It was a long process, it was a painstaking process but it was worth taking it.
Letting go of controlling attempts over somebody else’s life is difficult for many because trying to control another person’s life and change his/her ways gives them a sense of control over their own lives, but this feeling is unreal.
By trusting the "Higher Power" that the one who is addicted will be willing to recover and stay on track of recovery, if one wishes, will allow us to let go of a painful situation of trying to control something that is not within our control.
We can only be next to them and support them fully once they have come to the realisation that they need help with their addiction.
Having let go of controlling someone leaves a feeling of void for many people. This “void”, or emptiness has to be filled with something, and I insist that it should be filled with self-love, self-care, understanding and support.
Without understanding yourself and your needs, you will continue feeling “the hole” inside yourself and engage in unhealthy behaviours to distract yourself from feeling that emptiness. And make no mistake, trying to control the behaviour and life of a drug addict is a destructive behaviour.
By learning about yourself, caring for yourself and loving yourself, you will slowly begin to fill in the void/ the feeling of emptiness inside you, and you will become happier and self-sufficient.
Learning new ways of how you can get control over your own life is empowering and life-changing.
It is vital that we step back and reclaim our freedom and our life.
If you relate to the issues in this article or know somebody struggling to cope with the addiction of their loved one, share the article or reach out yourself to our forum and see if you find it useful.
Lockdown has exacerbated the problems of those families that had already had a difficult time with the addiction of a loved one prior to the lockdown.
You may also find “15 Ways of Dealing With the Lockdown Blues” article helpful.
“Can you carry on running?” article deals with the issues of self-reflection and the need to stop “running” and face the reality of the situation to eventually become happier and healthier.