It’s incredibly difficult to reintegrate yourself into society when you’ve destroyed your own support system.

Having a loved one with an addiction comes with an immeasurable amount of strength. Whether it is your spouse, child, brother, sister, or best friend, chances are you have felt torn between helping them and letting them reach their rock bottom. Rock bottom can vary greatly from person to person. Not being able to make upgrades to your security system might be your version of hitting the bottom, while not having a home because you’ve spent all of your money on heroin was mine. Using people for a place to stay, or food, or money is very common for someone during and even after their addiction. It’s incredibly difficult to reintegrate yourself into society when you’ve destroyed your own support system.

When dealing with a loved one who has expressed that they want to get clean, listen to them. They might have said this a thousand times and you are sick of hearing it. As someone on the other side of a long heroin addiction, I never had any desire to get clean until I was scraping along the bottom for a long time. I thought that everyone had abandoned me and that my family didn’t care. I could not have been more wrong. My friends and family still cared very much but they needed to keep their distance after years of helping me and hoping that I would get better. When I stopped using drugs, I was only fueled by the desire to not scrape by and to not be such a piece of garbage.

It’s difficult to know when your help is actually hurting your loved one. As someone who has climbed out of the fourteenth level of hell and has also earned the trust of their family, I wanted to share a little bit of the advice that I wish someone had shared with my family when I was coming out of my addiction.

1. If you can help financially, make sure you aren’t enabling.

I used to get birthday cards with cash in them, but when my addiction was noticeable, those stopped. There was one occasion where my grandpa was passing out Christmas cards to all of the grandchildren and when I opened mine, there was $100. I was so excited because I had been sick and this was my cure to not feeling like garbage. Hell, maybe I might buy myself some makeup too. My dad came up to me and in front of my entire family said, “Now you’re going to give that to me to hold on to right?!” I was humiliated. We bickered back and forth in front of my family for the rest of the evening until I gave him my Christmas money. In that moment, I hated him. I hadn’t taken into account the ways that my father had helped me over the years. Thousands of dollars in treatment centers, payments on my repossessed car, new clothes, medication, and every other expense that an addict child racks up was all paid for by him.

Having a loved one who is killing themselves with an addiction is heartbreaking, distressing, and financially exhausting. They will say, “This is the last rehab attempt mom, I promise. I’m ready to get clean now.” You want so badly to believe them, to pour money into your shiny new healthy child. Leaving rehab as I mentioned earlier can be very scary because a lot of people don’t have anything to come home to. If you aren’t comfortable having your son or daughter in your home but can afford it, then a sober living situation might be the best case scenario. A lot of these places (often called ¾ homes) accept Medicaid and are free for the addict. This is a structured environment with strict rules and mandatory drug testing. When living here, you are free to leave for the day, but are expected to comply with curfews and required meetings. If this is the best option, make sure to compare the different houses available. If your loved one is on medication for their addiction such as methadone or suboxone, the recovery house might not allow it. Do not force your loved one to get off of their medication, find another option. I cannot stress this enough. There are plenty of sober living environments that allow medication assisted treatment, you just have to look for them. They might not like it (I sure didn’t) but sometimes coming home isn’t an option. There has been too much destruction, theft, and heartbreak to have them home.

There are other ways to help them get on their feet. If your loved one has to go to meetings or group therapy, take them. Having to network to find a ride to an NA meeting is daunting. Relying on the kindness of other struggling people is difficult for anyone, let alone someone new to sobriety. Be their constant, take them if it’s feasible for you.

My dad bought me groceries at my recovery home every week and I never appreciated it at the time. He would pick me up every Friday afternoon and take me to the store and let me put whatever I wanted in my cart. I never appreciated how much energy and money this cost him until I actually got clean.

2. Expect anger

If you are not handing them cash then you can expect anger, rage, hate, and resistance. If you are reading this article then you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. I used to come up with every excuse as to why I “needed cash.” I had to pay for this or that and they only accepted cash. I was the master of coming up with emergencies that required $200. I thought that I was a genius. We use the creativity learned by extreme desperation. Being dope sick is the most painful despair that I have ever experienced and I would do anything to make sure that I would be able to afford my next fix. Not giving me money was the same as saying that you didn’t love me. I hated everyone. I was mean and selfish and only cared about not coming back to reality because it was too painful.

When I first stopped using, I still expected my dad to buy me a new car as he did ten years prior. I wanted to get on top of a bridge and scream, “I HAVEN’T GOTTEN HIGH IN A MONTH! I’M ALL BETTER!” I was even angrier when there was no financial assistance after I stopped using. I was angry at my stepmother whom my dad married during my addiction. She had a helping hand in him cutting me off. I directed all of my anger at her because it was all her fault, right? Surely my dad loved me enough to want to help but this woman was preventing him.

When the pink cloud of new sobriety cleared, and then the haziness of less new sobriety stopped lingering, I was able to piece together their reasoning for letting me figure out life on my own. My heart began to soften, my words became nicer, and I was ashamed of the way that I had treated the people who loved me the most.

Every addict and their actions are different. I was kicked out of the house before I could really steal anything of value. I had a “friend” who stole his deceased grandmother’s diamond ring from his mother. You know your child or loved one best. You don’t have to allow anyone in your home that you aren’t comfortable with. You don’t have to pay for whatever emergency they are claiming to have. Don’t set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm. If your loved one has been clean for a short period of time and is pressuring you for financial help or a home to stay in, explain that it will take time. Stay strong and stick to your decisions. Express your love for them every chance you get. If it’s an option, start with a meal out.

The longer that they stay clean, the easier it will be for them to understand your reasoning for keeping your distance during their addiction and even after.

3. Support their decision to be on medication if that’s what they need.

There is a huge divide in the recovery community about medication assisted treatment, or MAT. There is confusion on whether or not someone who takes this kind of medication is truly clean. As a parent or support system for someone who is trying to take their life back from addiction, you are not in a position to decide how they recover. I’m sure my parents would rather that I had stopped using drugs without the help of methadone, but without it, I would not have recovered at all. Medication assisted treatment saves lives.

If your son, daughter, brother, or sister is in a program that dispenses medication as part of their treatment and you can afford to help financially, then pay the program directly. It is mandatory that the addict take their medication daily and coming up with the money required daily can seem like an impossible hurdle. Being in recovery means eliminating the behaviors and actions that were common while in addiction, too. Sure, we could come up with $60 a day to get our drugs, but do you want to know how we came up with it? Theft is very common, borrowing money from a relative or friend with no intention of paying it back is, too. Some of us even had to resort to prostitution to acquire the money to get our drugs.

When your loved one is right out of a program they might want to do the right thing but life still costs money. Medications like methadone and buprenorphine can cost up to $18 a day without insurance. Help them sign up for a state run Medicaid program as most clinics take this type of insurance. There are also indigent grants at some clinics for those who don’t have the ability to pay for their medication at all.

Mental health issues don’t go away just because the substances do. Coming back to the world after deciding to live without drugs is rough and sometimes unbearable. The running around and eluding police is a type of excitement that most people don’t understand. Living a normal existence after making the decision to give up that lifestyle can manifest major depression too. It can seem like there is nothing to look forward to and that nothing will ever fill the void that going to get high created. There is also a lesser known needle addiction that intravenous drug users struggle to get over.

When you live a certain way and have routine compulsive behaviours, it can be close to impossible to even know where to start after getting clean. For a while, everything seemed so bleak. I would count down the days until I got paid and then once I got clean, it seemed like there was nothing to look forward to. My favorite thing in the world was gone and I had nothing to replace it with. I had no hobbies, no goals, and no motivation. This cycle of boredom often leads to relapse after relapse.

Supporting someone going through what you hope is the beginning of their new life means supporting their mental health treatment. There are various types of medication that treat depression, anxiety and other issues that a qualified mental health professional can help explain a little better. Transportation to therapy and doctors appointments can mean the world to someone who is unable to get there on their own.

If you are unable to help your loved one financially, that does not mean that you love them any less. Simple and meaningful things like answering a phone call and sending messages are just as important as money. Let them know that you love them constantly because drug addiction doesn’t just go away once they walk out of rehab. There are tons of resources for family members that have a loved one who suffers from addiction, too. Nar-Anon is a group that meets (probably online now) that is specific to family members that have been affected.

If anything is taken away from this article, I want it to be this: You cannot help anyone until you are whole. If this means cutting off contact from someone close to you because they have hurt you, lied to you, or stolen from you, then take the time that you need to heal. You are important too.

View the original article at thefix.com

Mon, August 24, 2020| The Fix|In Opioids

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