Remember . . . You Are Not Alone!!

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Remember . . . You Are Not Alone!!

craft_cornerIf your partner or loved one is using drugs or alcohol, you are likely facing a very complex problem in your family. One that is affecting everyone and causing you to feel overwhelmed and doubtful that anyone will understand. Unfortunately, there is also usually an immense amount of shame associated with substance use problems, both for the substance user and their family. This shame can make it very difficult to feel like anyone is going to understand what you are going through.

The reality is there are millions of people who can have empathy for what you are experiencing. And research shows that support when facing lots of different problems, including substance use in a family, is crucially important. It may be be that you are worried about negative gossip or exposure in your community. It may be that you are simply intensely focus on the problem at hand and feel you don’t have any bandwidth to connect with other people or seemingly having no time for anyone else. Maybe you are an “I don’t ask for help” kinda person, or are just flat out embarrassed by the problem. These reactions are all understandable, but often not so helpful!

Why? Because withdrawing from other people and outside supports takes a toll. Trying to handle difficult stress alone, can put you at great risk for increased depression, anxiety, fatigue and despair. It decreases your resilience and hurts your ability to roll with the punches and be effective. Social support on the other hand, has been shown to do just the opposite: it improves mood, lowers anxiety, makes you more resilient. Last, it provides the chance for opening up new options and possibilities. While each family situation is unique, others have in fact gone through similar struggles, and hearing from them can lower the distress levels all around, which is an important thing to consider for the long haul.

You’re not alone in this…please try to find ways to get some support as you move through this process.

For more information on this and other ways that you can help your loved one with their substance abuse, please visit The 20 Minute Guide at www.the20minuteguide.com.

About the Author:

Carrie Wilkens, PhD

Carrie Wilkens, PhD, is the Co-Founder and Clinical Director of the Center for Motivation and Change in NYC and in the Berkshires. She co-authored an award-winning book, Beyond Addiction: How Science and Kindness Help People Change with Drs. Foote and Kosanke. Together they also contributed to a user-friendly workbook for parents: The 20 Minute Guide: A Guide for Parents about How to Help their Child Change their Substance Use. In collaboration with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, Dr. Wilkens and the CMC team is developing a national parent training program (the Parent Support Network) to provide parent coaches to families in need of support through a free hotline. Prior to these ventures, Dr. Wilkens was the Project Director on a large federally-funded Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant examining the effectiveness of motivational interventions in addressing the problems associated with binge drinking among college students. She is regularly sought out by the media to discuss issues related to substance use disorders and has been on the CBS Morning Show, Katie Couric Show, and Fox News as well as a variety of radio shows including frequent NPR segments such as the People’s Pharmacy and The Diane Rehm Show.