Helping someone recover from addiction is tough. It’s especially challenging when they’re struggling with a co-occurring disorder in addition. While the focus is mainly on helping an individual regain control of their life and get healthy, we can’t forget their loved ones. Dual diagnosis doesn’t only affect the individual, it greatly affects their friends and family as well. It can be hard for struggling individuals to see their lives and actions clearly, but surrounding sober loved ones see and feel it all. On top of that, they know, a lot of the time, the person isn’t their true self.
It’s heartbreaking to watch a loved one struggle or go down a dark path. Of course, they want to help and do all they can, but that’s much easier said than done. Friends and families go through a coping process and need support too. They may often feel angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, sad, or hopeless. Parents may feel depressed or torn between helping and enabling. As a parent, there’s a sense of responsibility for a child. What adds to a parent’s load, is when there’s younger siblings or children that need help coping with the situation too.
Parents need to assure children that aggressive or erratic behaviors are symptoms of the illness, making sure they’re not afraid or take it personally. Parents should have two way conversations about the way they feel about the situation and relationship. It also helps to explain the reasons why other family members might be uncomfortable with these behavioral symptoms, the stigma surrounding dual diagnosis, and how to cope with it together. Spending time alone with children to enjoy activities is also highly important as they still need to experience a childhood. They may also need to build a new relationship with a struggling family member, a unique kind of relationship that allows them to still provide support that’s healthy for the both of them.
Parents can’t hold the fort together by themselves either. Entire families and friends need to support one another to keep everyone afloat. It’s important everyone learns about mood disorders and addiction in order for everyone to understand and provide effective support as a group. Open communication between all family members is crucial for nurturing and maintaining healthy relationships within the circle at all times. There will be moments when some family members need space and time to process their feelings, this should be honored and respected. Together, remind each other what your family goals are as a support system, as a team - not only for the individual struggling, but for the entire group as well.
Providing support doesn’t mean taking responsibility for making a loved one well. Ultimately, recovery is up to the struggling individual. In many cases, professional and medical assistance is necessary as a healthier and safer path. There’s also support available to help supporting families and friends as well. No one has to go through it alone. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions or concerns. Crownview Co-Occurring Institute is built by a strong team of understanding medical professionals who care about helping people live happy healthy lives.