To stay or Walk away, that is the million-dollar question?
Families can often feel like bystanders watching in dismay as the addict’s actions and behaviours change, turning their loved ones into someone they barely recognise.
I can still hear my mother share how she felt in a film (Putting it into words) made by families sharing their experiences “I just wanted someone to come along, take her away and bring her back how she used to be”. But at that time the drugs had taken over my life and there was absolutely nothing my mother or loved ones could do. I was in complete denial about how my drug use had changed me. As far as I was concerned it was everyone and the world around me that had changed.
Years into my own recovery and without any warning I found the I was in the same position with my father that my mother had been in with me. I was that bystander, who felt powerless as alcohol had taken over his body and his mind turning him into someone I barely recognised.
Over the years I have seen families accessing support groups in search of answers or to try and work out what they can do to effect a “cure” and get their loved one back to normal. They hope for a quick fix, but sadly addiction can often be complex and hard to understand.
That’s why Family Support is vital
Families can be easily be distracted by the actions of the addict that they forget about themselves. They stop living their own lives and end up joining the addict on the merry-go-round of denial, anger, confusion, and blame.
- Family support provides a space where families feel heard and listened to.
- Family support can help lighten the burden of those feelings of stigma and shame that often families carry around, unseen to the trained eye.
- Family Support offers an opportunity for families to learn and understand about addiction, which in itself is complex and cannot be taught overnight or just in a classroom.
- Family support provides opportunities to be surrounded by others who understand, there may be similarities in the story’s shared, but everyone’s journey is unique to them.
Families should never give up hope for recovery for their loved one—for recovery can and does happen every day. I feel privileged and proud to be a walking reminder and to be part of a movement in Sheffield (Sheffield Recovery Community) that highlights and demonstrates that there IS life after substance abuse.
But whilst they are sitting on the sidelines waiting for their loved one to embrace recovery, families need to start embracing their own needs
Family support offers an opportunity to learn more about what may be happening to the addict. It can help them to make sense of what drives and motivates addict’s behaviours and help them to develop new ways of coping, which can help reduce the feelings of helplessness.
I firmly believe that even if the families have made a choice to either stay or walk away, they still need support to come to terms with the feelings of loss and pain, they deserve to be recognised.
Families and friends of addicts used to have a voice in Sheffield. We once had a thriving community of peer-led family support groups, that eventually came together to form the Sheffield Families and Friends Alliance Group.
Unfortunately, due to funding cuts and shifting priorities the focus on families and those affected by a loved one’s addiction slowly melted away, it was like the volume had been turned down on their voices.
The more and more I write about my story, I feel the increasing need to turn the volume back up and champion the support needs of Families & Friends affected by addiction. I am proud to be part of a new support group that starts, next Wednesday, this is me doing my bit for the often unseen victims of addiction.
The groups will run via Zoom every Wednesday evening from 7 pm-8 pm, starting on 17th June. If you interested in attending, want links to the meeting or would like to know more about the group, please contact Mike Dixon on 07837446951
Remember, try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too