A plan of Coping
With Christmas just round the corner many families will already be thinking of inviting their loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. The thought of previous years where there has been so much sadness is beginning to impact your mental health. The memories of arguing and fighting on Christmas day are already filling you with dread and you are starting to notice how stressed and anxious you have become by November. You are already avoiding the works do or avoiding social gatherings. Sound familiar? Well Christmas shouldn’t be like this and doesn’t have to be.
One question many families come across is do you invite then or not? This can be a very difficult choice which can be so divisive for the family. If your family member is alcohol dependant do you have alcohol in the house? If you invite the person to join you do you let them in under the influence of drugs and alcohol? Do you ask someone to leave if you find someone using drugs in the house? What do you do if the person arrives drunk or stoned? Do you stay at the door arguing and end up caving in to the emotional guilt that can be put on you? What do the neighbours think? Friends don’t understand, or maybe they do which reinforces the stigma of having someone in the family that has an addiction.
Having a plan in place may help you mange Christmas easier and take control of the situation giving you a sense of empowerment, raising your confidence to make healthy decisions without potential guilty feelings. One way to deal with the potential situation is to sit down with all family members and agree to the rules. This can be helpful and having transparency with everyone is essential. Make them aware of your choices and don’t allow anyone to manipulate the situation. Be aware of emotional blackmail. Maybe write a contract and in a moment of clarity ask the addict to sign it reinforcing transparency. This also gives you a sense of control whilst releasing any guilt you may feel. Nowadays many organisations offer 24/7 support lines so have the information to hand over the festive period.
Maybe you don’t want to invite them? Is this really bad? What will others think? Maybe due to their behaviour you can’t. You may have young children arriving and the family member is using heroin. Is there a possibility that a needle maybe left on the floor by accident?. How would you live with yourself if the child ended up having that needle stuck in them? Would social services be involved?
This is a very challenging time for all so it essential to stick to the plan you have implemented with the family. If it is possible find a support group. Develop some positive friends you can call on will also help break down any stigma you may be feeling. Many families across the world will have to deal with this situation and may not have the access to support.
Remember you are powerless in their choices, remember the 3 Cs… You can’t Cure it, you didn’t Cause it and cannot Control it. Don’t let the bastards grind you down. Take ownership and enjoy Christmas with your family.
I hope this gives you an idea of how to deal with the situation. There is much more. I will post later on other relevant topics such as strong boundaries, detachment and understanding tough love.
In Hampshire there is a wonderful charity called Parent Support Link (PSL) with dedicated professional workers that will help you. Parent Support Link can offer a free dedicated 24/7 support line, they can meet you face to face and offer support groups across Hampshire. So take a brave step and reach out to them on 02380 399764. God bless.