Five ways to support an addicted love one

As we make our way towards the end of National Recovery Month I want to discuss helping a love one that is struggling with addiction. Often times that love one is left out to battle the battle alone. Then there are other times that we want to help our love ones but just don’t know how. Well here’s 5 ways to support a love one battling addiction.

  1. Be supportive. Showing support for someone with an addiction means going to meetings with them, listening without judgement, shame, and blame, giving them a phone call to simply say hello, understanding that addiction is a disease, owning your feelings and not covering up the behaviors.
  2. Set boundaries. Provide your love ones with what you will and will not tolerate and be accountable for sticking to those boundaries. It is not tough love. Setting boundaries is a way to disable the behavior.
  3. Go to therapy. Encourage the love one to seek professional help. As a family member it will be very important that you go to therapy as well to work on any unresolved and unaddressed feelings and thoughts around the addiction. Therapy can also help you address your codependency in the relationship with the love one. Family therapy is also a good idea to help the family work on family of origin challenges that keeps the family in the dysfunction around the addicted love one.
  4. Be an example. If you use drugs or alcohol or have an addiction of certain behaviors then you lead by example through lifestyle change. You model healthy living by changing unhealthy behaviors, going to support groups, having a sponsor, or going through a recovery program as well.
  5. Self Care. It is very important that while you are supporting a love one with an addiction that you also do some self care. You want to make sure that you are getting your needs taking care of without falling into the trap of constantly meeting the needs of others and abandoning yours. Honor you.

So there you have it. This is just a few of many ways to care for a love one with addiction. Remember that addiction doesn’t just affect the one person. It affects the whole family.

 

Tahiyya xo

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction please reach out for professional help. Don’t go at this alone!

https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

 

I am located in Matthews, NC. I specialize in working with individuals, families, and couples who struggle with addiction, codependency, eating disorder, disordered eating and relational challenges. How may I serve you?

 

Addiction is a Family Thing

Day in and day out we are looking at the opiod crisis that is spreading like wild fire. It reminds of the crack epidemic that also spreaded like wild fire in the 80s and 90s. I remember being a little girl and seeing how this new lust was calling people’s names and calling them to do things that they would have never imagined doing. It was addiction. It was the ugly face of addiction.

Fast forward and as I look all around me addiction has grown increasingly among our youth; our adults, our families. Addiction comes in many forms. You have the typical drug and alcohol addiction. Then we have food, sex, gambling, social media, shopping, relationship/love, gaming, etc. They may not seem as harmful as drugs and alcohol however addiction is addiction and it affects one all the same.

I grew up around addiction. I grew up where there were alcoholics, drug addicts, gambling addicts, perhaps even food, sex, and relationships addicts. I saw how the addiction affected the souls of the individual. I even saw how addiction affected the family; the community.

Addiction doesn’t just affect the individual. Addiction affects the family. Each individual in the family takes on a role to either enable or disable the addict. These roles occur as a way to provide what most believe as support, tough love, or avoidance of the the addict. These roles include the following:

The Addict- the one with the addiction; the center of the dysfunction; where the world revolves the addict making them the center of attention.

The Hero– the one who is always to the resuce of the addict, the dysfunction, the family in the home; they work hard to make the addict, the family, and themselves look good. They are the perfectionist of the family.

The Mascot– the one that is the comedian of the family; to make light of the dysfunction; sometimes the jokes are not funny at all

The Lost Child– the one that gets lost in the dysfunction; they stay out of the way of the addict and the dysfunction.

The Scapegoat– the one that is the rebel and tries to bring attention to them and not the addict or the dysfunction

The Caretaker– this is the one that is the enabler; they take care of the addict and the dysfunction; they enable the addict to be the addict and the dysfunction to remain as dysfunction; the roles to remain the roles; they are the people pleasers trying to keep everyone and everything happy

When there is addiction in the home each family member will step into their role or roles…yes you can actually be in more than one role. The family members step into their roles and play the scenes of a movie that is not easy to watch and also not easy to live. After owning these roles it becomes “normal” and the addict continues to be the addict and the family also become addicts…codpendent (that’s another blog). Whenever someone in the family steps into recovery and decide that this is not the role they want to play any more and that this movie has to end is the moment that a change has to take place. A disruption has occurred in the family and either the family will stand with the dysfunction or take a stand and work on recovery as well. If you’ve ever seen Intervention on A&E you will know exactly what I mean.

Walking into recovery isn’t easy for the addict or the family. However it is not possible with just one person. The family unit will need to stand with addict or the person that interrupted the dysfunction and go through recovery together. Recovery begans with admitting that there is dysfunction; a problem and then seeking professional help. Family therapy, individual therapy, group therapy, support groups, etc.  will be professional help that the family and the individuals can attend to work on walking out of patholgy to recovery and healing.

The road to recovery isn’t easy. It is tough. It is not pretty. It is not that movie with rainbows and unicorns. It will take work; committment, and consistency from the addict AND the family. It can be done. Hope is there!

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or in one of the family of addiction roles and would like help you can contact me at tahiyyamartin@gmail.com or check out my website at http://www.tahiyyamartin.com.

Tahiyya xo

 

Tahiyya is a licensed professional counselor associate and licensed clinical addiction specialsit associate that works with adults and teens who struggle with addiction, codependency, disordered eating, and relational challenges. Her private practice is in Matthews, North Carolina. In addition to therapy she is also a life coach for women for emotional wellness and recovery as well as a mom and wife. 

 

He calls me sister: My dad has dementia

abuThis maybe the first time I’ve written about having a father with dementia. My dad was diagnosed with dementia about 14 years ago. For many, many years it was extremely hard to go see him. I hated to see my father in the condition he was in. I could see his eyes searching for answers as he asked questions and we would provide him answers that he was unfamiliar with or caused more confusion. I hated to see how the spunky, I don’t take no shit, fashionable man was now becoming withdrawn and wearing dickies and a t-shirt as if to be retiring; from life. His spirit seems to be leaving his body.

The hardest part came when we had to put him in a facility about five years ago. He was already depressed but now depression grew as he could not remember any visits from family or friends. Those family and friends visit did become less and less so now he really believed he was all alone. I remember visiting him one day and one of his buddies was sitting with him. He said to my dad, “see you do have family. I told you they come to see you”. I learned that day that he was telling residents that he didn’t have family ☹

This weekend my dad had an episode in which he was not himself. I visited him on yesterday to talk about the incident only to know what I already knew; he would not remember.

Caring for an adult parent can be very hard for a caregiver. Often you feel alone and isolated. You feel overwhelmed with decisions, thoughts, emotions, and trying to balance your own life. Sometimes caregiver guilt seeps in as you find yourself putting off going to see the loved one if they are in a facility or spending less time with your parent because it is hard. For me anxiety was my biggest issue because I was trying to balance making sure everyone was happy and that the right decisions were made or that I would show up to meet everyone’s needs as they related to my dad.

My dad calls me his sister. He sees his daughter but he’s “18” so I can’t be his daughter and be older than him (which is funny every time he says it). So he calls me the next best thing…his sister. Learning this I was sad but I saw the symbolic meaning that he knows that I am so one that cares for him and because I’m not his mom the next person would be a sister.

As his sister I want to share FIVE caregiving tips to help you with self care

  1. Start a daily self care routine. This can be something as simple as meditating for 5 minutes daily; taking a walk alone, getting a hobby, or watching a good movie that has nothing to do with your reality. I like cartoons.
  2. Find a support group for caregivers of parents with… (ie Alzheimer, Dementia, Cancer, Aging, etc.). There is nothing like knowing that you are not alone and can surround yourself around other people who are going through what you are going through. I am a strong believer that people heal through connection.
  3. Ask for help!!!! I was (still am) not a person to ask for help. I would rather get a pulsating headache then ask for help. Over the years this affects your own health when you allow your own issues get in the way. It’s okay to ask for help. Asking for help does not say anything except you care enough to get the best for yourself and meet your caregiving needs.
  4. Accept help. If someone asks to help, accept it. I used to say no thank you. I got it. I got it would lead to more than I can handle and then feeling anxious and later depressed. Again, accepting help does not speak about your character except that you are not stubborn and that you are trying your best to meet your own needs and the needs of your parent.
  5. Take a break. When you feel that things are getting out of control for you emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually take a break. There are respite programs out there that will sit with your love one while you take a break. If they are in a residential facility talk to staff. Trust me. They do understand.

Caregiver stress, anxiety and depression is real. It can be managed if you start caring for yourself. Remember how can you take care of others if you are neglecting caring for yourself.

If you or someone you know needs support with managing the caregiver stress, anxiety, and depression please seek care. Here’s a list of resources. I am also a licensed therapist and I do work with families and individuals with Anxiety and Depression and caregiver stress. I will be honored to help. Contact me.

Resources for caregivers

www.alz.org/care

www.helpforalzheimersfamilies.com/

www.alzheimers.net

Tahiyya xoxo

STOP

This week I believe everyone’s anxiety has been through the roof. I have really put my DBT training to use and I have been teaching the STOP skill. Not only have I used it with clients, I have actually had to use it for myself. Often we become so quick to react to our feelings and thoughts instead of mindfully responding. STOP is a skill that will help you respond and not react.

So let’s look at exactly what STOP is.

Stop

STOP is a distress tolerance skill that is taught by DBT trained therapists. A distress tolerance skill is a skill that helps an individual that is heading into an emotional crisis and they need help to tolerate the emotional pain. The STOP skill allows one to become mindfully aware of what is going on and to take a different course of action if possible. In other words I like to say it stops you in your track so that you can step outside yourself in order to bring awareness to the situation that is causing distress and bring awareness to yourself.

S= Stop. Freeze in your tracks. Don’t react to the situation just because your emotions is driving you to do so. 

T= Take a step back. It is time to step away from the siutation. Take a break by breathing in through your nose; out through your mouth. Deep calming breaths. Don’t react. 

O= Observe. Take notice of what is going on with you inside and out. What are you feeling? What are your thoughts? What exactly is the situation? What are others doing and saying that are around you. 

P= Proceed mindfully. You should act mindfully; with awareness. Consider your thoughts and feelings when making a decision. You should also take note of the feelings and thoughts of others and the situation before responding. Ask yourself “Which actions will make matters better or worse?”

This skill can be applied to any situation that you believe is distressing such as relationship conflict, urges to self harm or use substances, urges to participate in an addictive behavior, fear provoking situations, anger provoking situations; or any feelings or thoughts that makes you uncomfortable.

As a therapist I help clients put this skill to practice by practicing in session how to use the skill to respond to situations and not react. Reaction is on impulse and usually driven by our thoughts and feelings. Response is with awareness and driven by being mindful and being informed.

If you find yourself struck with an event that is distressing and need to get yourself in check, try the STOP skill. If you find yourself needing some help, hey I am available by phone or teleconference. I provide skills training, coaching, and DBT therapy.  I’m just an email away so schedule today!

 

Tahiyya xo

Resources

DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets by M. Linehan.

http://www.tahiyyamartin.com

 

If you like what you are reading and want more; hey follow the blog. I love helping others by teaching new skills, educating and bringing awareness, and just being me…Tahiyya:)

Trauma is my name 

“No one knows the troubles I’ve been through. They don’t see the scars hidden beneath my spirit. They don’t understand the…

💥Hypervigilance 

💥Anxiousness 

💥Running thoughts 

💥Sleepless nights

💥Emotional roller coaster 

💥Irritability 

💥Feeling trapped in my own body

💥Reoccurring nightmare

💥Don’t feel safe

💥Boundaries broken

💥Withdrawn 

💥Walking on eggshells 

💥Loud voices are frightening 

💥Shame 

Instead they see the smile that hides the pain. They see the loving and kind me. The always on top of things me. The beautiful on the outside me. I can’t tell my story. I can’t share my pain. I can’t show my shame. Trauma is my name”

Are you hiding behind the pain of trauma? It’s time to get help. 

Here’s some resources just for you!

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/

http://www.mntraumaproject.org/resources-for-clients

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

https://www.amazon.com/Courage-Heal-Survivors-Sexual-Anniversary/dp/0061284335