We all encounter challenges throughout our lives, some bigger than others. Changing a flat tire by yourself may give you a feeling of independence. On the other hand, moving into a new house is usually too much to handle without help. In my experience, supporting a family member with an opioid addiction falls into the second category.
Knowing when to ask others for help can make a big difference for your loved
one—and for you as a caregiver as well.
One of the toughest times of my life was during my adult son’s struggle with opioid addiction. He had reached a place where he clearly needed help, and I wanted that help to come from me. My thinking was, "I'm strong. I'm a trained healthcare provider. I'm his father, and I can do this for him."
Those things are all true. But it took time for me to understand that even with his mother by my side, his recovery journey was too big for me to handle. Fortunately, I learned there is an abundant amount of support available to both caregivers and their loved ones struggling with this chronic brain disease.
Above all, I realized that receiving help isn’t a failure as a caregiver. It’s empowering yourself to tap into the strength of others. Some caregivers feel the need to hide the issue of opioid addiction for fear of being judged by others. But I found that opening up to close friends and family revealed a line of support that I didn’t even know was there.
Seeing others rise to the occasion helped my family feel valued, and knowing that it was not just a certain few who were willing to help. It was encouraging for me to know that I was building a team that could help relieve some of the pressures I was feeling.
In addition to the emotional support we received from people close to us, I got serious about seeking out helpful information. It’s easy to rely on feelings rather than facts when it comes to opioid addiction. When I noticed the same approaches or advice being shared in reputable places, I took those thoughts to heart. Different people respond to different things, so I combined what I was reading with what I know about my adult son.
Along with my own research, I found that meetings and support groups were also great places for me to learn more and form connections with members of the treatment and recovery support network.
But while I was taking in so much information during this hectic and emotional time, it was no secret that I was starting to feel exhausted, and even a little burned-out. Which takes me right back to why I was thankful to have built up my support system when I did. I needed a break as a caregiver—and my family and friends kept me strong. I benefited from people who believed in me and my adult son.
During my journey as a caregiver, I found it helpful to educate myself about treatment options and surround myself with people who understood what I was experiencing.
I encourage you to download 10 Ways to Empower Yourself as a Caregiver. This list contains some points that are intuitive and some, more surprising. And they’re all important to keep in mind as you help your loved one on their recovery journey.
Just as I discovered, you may see that you’re not alone.