Having a child with a substance abuse problem is one of the most difficult things that can happen to a parent.
We’re told over and over again to practice self-care, but how do we do that when our child is slowly killing him or herself? Or what about if they've gone through treatment and they're now living back at home?
Tips for Providing Self Care
As parents, our primary focus is protecting our children. But when dealing with chemical dependency, you have to “put the oxygen mask on yourself first.”
Here are a few ideas on how to maintain your health - and your sanity - when your child is in crisis:
- Make a List of “Your” Priorities
Don't let your child's substance abuse stop you from focusing on your job, finances, or other family members. If you don’t take care of your needs, you won’t be able to help your child. Putting down goals and priorities on paper reinforces them in your mind, making it easier to juggle the various things you need to do - even though you’re worried about your child.
- Join a Group That's “Not” About Substance Abuse
Simply joining a group of women at work who walk during lunch hour can help. Talk with people about something other than substance abuse. You'll be surprised how quickly that can lighten your mood and remind you that there’s a life beyond this crisis. It’s easy to get sucked into thinking about substance abuse twenty-four hours a day, especially if you spend too much time alone. Getting a social connection that’s not focused on your child’s problem can greatly improve your quality of life.
- Think About the Future
Make a list of things you would do for yourself if your child wasn't abusing drugs or alcohol. Would you go back to school? Start dating again? Even something as simple as getting regular manicures and pedicures. You don't have to act on these, but making a list helps you envision a brighter future for yourself...and for your child.
- Seek Help
If you’re in recovery, don't be afraid to admit it - at least to a therapist, doctor, or substance use support group. And above all, don't let your child's substance use problem lead to your own relapse. Even if you’ve never had a substance abuse problem, now is a good time to connect with therapist. Having someone with an objective ear to let you talk things out and strategize can really help.
- Accept That It’s Not Your Fault
You’ve heard it before, but don’t blame yourself. No matter what.
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