Every family with a loved one who has addiction goes through a lot of turmoil. They may be missing for days or weeks at a time, or the loved one is acting erratically, and the people left to wonder where they’ve gone or what they’re doing think the worst is going to happen at any time. Coping with grief over the loss of a living family member can bring some difficult emotions into the picture. Confusion, frustration, sadness, and anger are just a few that pop up when grief enters the frame. Learn some tips for how to grieve a loved one with an addiction and find some support for the journey.
Back Seat Driving
Someone who is addicted to drugs may not understand the grief family goes through. Their loved one is not gone, but they are away, not themselves, or just lost to addiction at the moment and not who they used to be. Taking the back seat while trying to drive will not work. Death helps people mark an event they can refer back to, but grief over lost living relatives only holds the door open to the pain and misery of the circumstances for a long period of time (without knowing when it will end).
Gone but Not Forgotten
One tip for families of loved ones who disappear into addiction is to realize they are gone, but not forgotten. In this moment, they are trapped inside something they cannot control. Until they get help, they won’t get better. Perhaps you could have tried harder, or seeking after them will bring them closer, but it is not your fault. Recognize this early on or you may suffer needlessly for a long period of time. It is a roller coaster ride, but don’t sit by the phone and wait for their call. Realize they will have to ask for help when they want it and are ready to seek help.
Detach (with Love)
One of the hardest things to do is detach from a loved one. They are brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, cousins, and loved ones with attachment to the family. Unfortunately, what is needed is to detach with love and not fixate on rescuing them. It is easy to think about giving up but don’t give up on them or the situation when detaching. Just take some distance from it at the moment and find a way to help yourself heal while waiting for that loved one to come back from addiction and ask for help.
No More Denial
Denial can be as strong with family as it can be for people with addiction. Don’t get caught up in denial and thinking they will change when they can’t (right now) and thinking there is not a serious problem (there is, for now). The goal is to focus on what to do right now that will help that person and the family function at its best. If the person won’t quit using substances, it is hard to know how to think or feel. Letting go of denial brings a level of acceptance that is healing and will support a journey to finding hope in recovery.
Embrace the journey where you are. Grief is part of it but not the whole story. We will help you navigate the hard parts of recovery with support. However you find your way to the Last Resort, we endeavor to provide a haven where you can journey through recovery feeling like your life and story have meaning and a purpose. Call us to find out more: 877-322-2643.