A guest blog provided by Charmaine Quintana
At SMART Recovery, we want you to know that you can live a happier life, even if your Loved One (LO) has an addiction.
You may be thinking, “WHAT?!?! Is that even possible?” I’m here to tell you: yes, it is possible. It requires the acceptance of two basic beliefs:
- You are not the cause of your loved one’s addiction, therefore you are not to blame.
- You have the right to reclaim control of your life.
The pre-flight announcement “please put your own oxygen mask on first before attempting to help anyone else,” is a perfect example of the above beliefs in action. This Oxygen Mask Rule helped me to see that, 1) I was of no help to my LO if I believed that their addiction was somehow my fault and 2) that I had the right to be happy and in control of my life, even if they were living the life of addiction.
Learning how to change my interactions with my LO to focus on the positives as often as possible was the key to changing the path that we were on. Learning how to take care of myself, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually in order to make that happen was the difficult part.
I had no idea where or how to start, but I did realize that by not knowing how to take care of myself, I was prone to thinking and doing some unhelpful (sometimes downright stupid) things. I found myself accepting my LO’s most obvious and outrageous lies as the truth; and … driving the streets in the middle of the night in the hopes that I would find my LO and save them from their next fix, and — my all-time favorite —thinking that if all the drug dealers in our town were dead or gone that my LO’s addiction would be solved.
Thank goodness I found SMART Recovery for Family & Friends. Their use of cognitive behavioral techniques, the SMART 4-Point Program®and CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) exercises taught me how important taking care of me really is. And, as an added bonus, I found that my other relationships improved when I applied these same techniques.
Happiness was no longer something that was in my future, it was in my present. Even amidst the pain of my LO still continuing to practice their addiction, I found that happiness was available to me. The happiness came from the satisfaction of knowing that I was doing the right thing for myself and my LO. Our relationship no longer felt like a “no-win” situation.
One of the hardest things that I am still learning is how to forgive myself for not being perfect. The next step has been learning how to set boundaries that take care of me. The communication and boundary tools in the SMART Handbook for Family & Friends have put me on a path to doing just that. Practicing mindfulness and learning to trust my intuition have helped me to cultivate a loving self-caring environment for myself. It has also had the added reward of dialing down the stress in my relationship with my LO.
This healing process/journey includes a lot of practice, patience, persistence, and planning. It continues to be one of identifying beliefs that no longer serve me, of forgiving myself and others, and of peacefully letting go of my need to fix things in my life that are outside my control.
I’d like to leave other family members and friends with one piece of inspiration from Helen Keller, “Happiness depends upon ourselves.”
I’m proof that you can live a happier life. SMART Recovery can help you get there.
About SMART Recovery Family & Friends
SMART Recovery Family & Friends helps those who are affected by the substance abuse, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, or other addictions of a loved one. Our program is a science-based, secular alternative to Al-Anon and Johnson Intervention, and our method is based on the tools of SMART Recovery and CRAFT (Community Reinforcement Approach & Family Training). CRAFT aims to teach family and friends self-protection and non-confrontational skills to help their addicted loved one find recovery.
You can find Family & Friends meetings both in-person and online.
- Find a local meeting: Please click here to search for a local SMART Recovery Family & Friends meeting.
- Register for online meetings: To participate in the online Family & Friends meetings, registration is required at the SMART Recovery Online website: smartrecovery.org/community.
If you are interested in starting a Family & Friends meeting in your local area, we would love to hear from you. Please click here to learn more about starting a Family & Friends meeting.
About SMART Recovery
Founded in 1994, SMART (Self-Management And Recovery Training) uses science-based techniques that have proven to be effective in helping people recover from addiction problems involving any substance or behavior, including such things as alcohol, drugs, gambling, over-eating, shopping and internet use.
Each week, many thousands of people discuss recovery progress and challenges at more than 3,000 in-person meetings each week in 23 countries, daily online meetings and 24/7/365 internet message board forums and chat rooms.
Participants use SMART to assume responsibility for their own recovery and become empowered using its 4-Point Program®: building motivation; coping with urges; managing thoughts, feelings and behaviors; and living a balanced life.
For more information, please visit www.smartrecovery.org.