In 2018, True Link Financial released a survey that was among the first to quantify the financial strains that family members experience when a loved one struggles with addiction. A total of 341 Americans participated in the study, and 82% of respondents stated that their loved one with a substance use disorder (SUD) experienced adverse financial effects that resulted from their addiction. Furthermore, 8 out of 10 respondents agreed that for those in recovery, regaining finances is one of the hardest aspects of recovery – and all too often, family members are the ones digging into their bank accounts and wallets to cover what they feel their loved one needs – even while addiction is active.
Family members go through much more than financial stressors when a loved one is addicted, however. Members may feel hurt, angry or resentful of all the time spent worrying about their loved one – and guilt may also play part in family members’ emotional state, especially if they feel they could have said or done something earlier to stop it all from happening. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery emphasized that the family dynamic can become disrupted in the process of a loved one going through addiction; when this occurs, it will take a lot for family members – both individually and collectively – to feel ready to move forward with their lives. To promote the healing process, family members can take a number of steps to promote their own mental health throughout the recovery:
- Breathe. Take a few moments throughout the day to ground yourself. It can be incredibly overwhelming when a loved one is struggling with addiction, and thoughts may seem to plague your mind. Take a step back when you can, and just breathe.
- Establish “alone time”. Give yourself time to watch a movie, read a book or engage in other self-care activities that boost your mental, physical and spiritual health. You need this now more than ever.
- Maintain a solid support system. Attend Al-Anon, a 12-Step program designed for friends and family. Keep in contact with recovery leaders and peers who support your family in healing and growth. Let this be a strong part of your foundation, even if you feel weak.
- Continue attending therapy. Even if you’re having a bad day, continue seeking out therapy. Attend individual, group and family sessions – don’t give up.
- Take the time you need. As a family, you all have likely gone through a lot of pain. Give yourself permission to take some time to heal and recover before jumping into anything that could overwhelm you.
Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.