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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Adkins

Coping with substance use or mental health issues of a loved one

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

According to data found online, roughly 13% of the worlds’ population suffers from a form of mental health or substance abuse disorder. In hindsight, this seems like a small number, but it affects nearly 1 billion people across the globe. You may even know and love someone who struggles or has struggled, with their mental health and substance abuse. Dealing with these issues may have caused you or your family members emotional distress or led to mental health issues of your own. We’re here to let you know that you are not alone, and it is always ok to not be ok.

With the right support and treatment plan in place, you and your loved one can find peace, acceptance, and ultimately sobriety. As always, if there is a medical emergency, please contact your local emergency services. Here are a few ways you can cope if someone you love is struggling with their mental health and/or addiction:

  1. Self-care. We put this first because you should put yourself first. You cannot help others until you can help yourself. It is extremely common in these situations to forget about yourself because you want to help the one who is struggling and you become immersed in anxiety-driven behavior. That is why it is so important to not stop doing the things that make you happy and keep you sane.

  2. Boundaries. If the person you care for does not want help, don’t force them, but don’t let them walk all over you in the same breath. The path to change and recovery starts within yourself, and your loved one may not be committed to this yet. During this time, it is important for you to remain vigilant and stand your ground. Don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of. If cutting off contact with a loved one helps you preserve your own wellbeing, do it. It will be hard at first, but in some cases, this helps them come around.

  3. Support groups. There are support groups for the individuals who are suffering, but there are also support groups for the families and loved ones of those individuals as well. You may find solace in knowing you are not alone by sharing your experience with those who have been through the same and you may learn things from these people that you may have not learned in a traditional therapy setting (but therapy is important, too!).

We know firsthand how the struggles of mental health and addiction affect the family unit as a whole, whether blood relatives, friends or romantic partners. This is why we offer a monthly, “Friends and Family” support group, which meets every 3rd Tuesday of each month. Together we can be a healing and restorative presence for those experiencing substance use and/or mental health issues, and for one another.

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