Drug or Alcohol Dependence - Help for Carers
- Are you a parent or partner watching a loved one spiral out of control through their dependence to drugs?
- Are you feeling emotionally and physically drained from the feelings of helplessness?
- Are you suffering relationship breakdowns from family and friends because of your support for your loved one?
- Do you want to continue to feel this way for weeks, months or even years?
Firstly, you are not alone. There are many resources available however, in times of stress it may seem difficult to know where to look. To get you started we have included details of a few resources that are available (see the Resources page). This includes the Mental Health Commission’s Drug and Alcohol Support Service, the Parent and Family Drug Support Line and the Mental Health Emergency Response Line. This list isn’t exhaustive however it will get you started. Also take time to see your GP not only for details of other services that they may be able to help you with (such as a Mental Health Plan) but your self-care is really important.
Tracy is a volunteer for the Mental Health Commission of WA and facilitates a parent support group that runs weekly. She is also a trained Be SMART group facilitator.
Many families Tracy meets have instinctively isolated themselves when they find out that their loved ones have a drug or alcohol problem. This could mean not telling anyone about what is happening through fear of being judged or criticized, feeling ashamed of their loved one, or even self-blame.
The best way to reach out for help is to phone one of the support lines that are detailed in the Resources page and to attend a parent support group. These support groups are for the parents (or the carers) – not the loved one with the dependence. The group is run by a trained facilitator/s to help support you and to offer guidance.
Attending parents are encouraged to share their journey but there is no pressure to do so especially if emotions are still very raw for new attendees. These groups are usually held weekly. Many parents who have attended these groups have found it invaluable to speak to other parents and to learn new ‘Tools’ or techniques that have helped other parents that they could perhaps try themselves.
It is an important step to begin coping with the situation, and you will start to notice common themes in every story shared that you will also see in your own story.
I implore anyone who is feeling lost and not knowing who or where to turn to for help to use the Resources page. You will be offered support and advice that is free, confidential and anonymous.
What are the Three C’s?
The Three C’s have helped many parents on their journey when they have someone they care for who is experiencing drug or alcohol dependence. The “I” means You as the Carer and “It” refers to the addiction:
First C: I didn’t Cause It
Second C: I can’t Cure It
Third C: I can’t Control It
I Didn’t Cause It:
It’s extremely important to remember that you, as a parent or loved one of someone who is has a dependence to drugs or alcohol, are not the cause of your child or loved one falling victim to addiction. While it is not unusual for the person who uses drugs or alcohol to cast blame on the ones closest to them, it is simply an attempt to justify their actions. Oftentimes accepting that you didn’t cause your loved one’s drug or alcohol dependence can relieve a lot of the guilt you feel about their actions. This realization can also help lead to the person with the dependence to take responsibility over their own actions.
I Can’t Cure It:
You can’t cure addiction. It is a chronic brain disease, much like diabetes or heart disease, in which an individual can manage his or her disease, but not completely rid their lives of its effects. There is no simple cure for addiction or a treatment program that will allow an addict to moderately drink or use. Proper drug or alcohol detoxification (detox) and rehabilitation (rehab) is needed to recover from active dependence. With the added help of aftercare programming, relapse prevention and a strong and ongoing support system the drug or alcohol dependent has a greater chance at life-long recovery.
I Can’t Control It:
Addiction is considered a disease in part because the substances involved heavily affect the brain chemistry of a human being. After a certain amount of time the substance will take control of an individual’s rational thinking and is thus controlling their actions. As such, it’s extremely important to remember that you are not able to control your loved one struggling with addiction. The decision to enter treatment and begin their road to long-term recovery is a decision the drug or alcohol dependent should make for themself. The best thing you can do is to positively support your loved one, while encouraging them to seek proper drug or alcohol rehabilitation treatment.
What more can I do?
Attending a parent support group and/or counseling would help you to understand more about your loved one’s behaviour and why they act the way they do. You will learn a lot about boundaries and have started to build up a ‘Toolbox’ of skills or techniques to help you to cope to and deal with your loved one. You would also have information of what support is available for the person you care for should they be willing to seek help and attend detox and rehab. Many say this will happen when the loved one ‘hits rock bottom’, but this depends very much on the individual and what they perceive to be their own ‘rock bottom’. Again, this could happen at any time or in some cases, never.
The next step would be to attend a Be SMART Group. This is usually a six-week course that is held for 2-3 hours once a week for the six weeks. It is an intensive course that focuses on You as the Carer. Parents or carers who attend the Be SMART Groups learn more techniques that they can put into their ‘Toolbox’ of skills to use whenever necessary. The feedback from parents and carers has always been extremely positive. Places are usually very limited so it is important to book when you are aware that a course is running in your area. The facilitator from the parent support group would be able to advise you when the courses are being scheduled and can give you the details of who to contact to book your place.
How can Life in Harmony WA help me?
The emotional rollercoaster that you are experiencing is absolutely normal. It is not uncommon to feel one of, or all of the following feelings and emotions such as:
- Constant tearfulness
- Inability to focus
Tracy at Life in Harmony WA is passionate about empowering individuals. She understands what you are going through and can help you to move forward and to regain focus and control.
By using hypnotherapy Tracy can help you to ‘turn down the dial’ of emotions that have taken over. Your emotions are a way of protecting you. It is not okay when these emotions affect your sleep, your health and your relationships with other family members.
In a supportive environment you will be guided through the power of hypnosis and suggestion to help strengthen your mental capacity to take back control.
You are mentally stronger than you think you are and it is through consultation with Tracy that you will learn how to tap into that strength once more. You cannot control your loved one, but you can control yourself. You can control how you react.
Don’t put this off any longer. Contact Tracy today and remove those barriers and embrace life again.