This article first appeared in Family Drug Help newsletter and has been republished with full permission.
Seeing a loved one battling addiction is often very difficult. I grew up with an alcoholic father, and in years to come it would be that my three brothers would have a similar path. One brother is still a somewhat functioning alcoholic, functioning considering he is on his second marriage, now separated, my other brother addicted to marijuana and my eldest brother battled a 10 year addiction to ice. Why not me, I ask, we had the same upbringing, were treated the same, had the same discipline, went through the normal highs and lows of a childhood.
I often wonder what could I have done to more to help in the initial stages of their addictions, Mum always said you don’t have to deal with adult issues. The truth is I never knew how or what could be useful. It seems that they were ashamed to tell me what was going on, until they reached their ‘rock bottoms’. It changed the relationship I had with each of them. I tried to stay in touch and have some sort of brotherly relationship with them, but time after time I was lied to, stood up, felt like I had nothing in common with them.
Although their journey is not complete, and comprises of a mixture of recovery and active alcoholism/addiction, what I do know is that I have to be vigilant,in case it’s in my genes. I do have to look after myself, I do have to support them when I can, and give my self permission to say “no” if I can’t or if it doesn’t feel right. I cannot change the past, I can’t predict the future, but it’s nice to have two of my brothers well again and on their tough journey in recovery.
Family Drug Help work with families to have been impacted by substance misuse.
The act of helping other people can provide you with a variety of health benefits. It’s been proven to assist those with depression, increases a sense of wellbeing and, for some, it can also help with recovery.
Anthony* is one of our involved peers at Turning Point and has been in recovery for quite a few years.
He has found that being involved and keeping busy helps him stay on track - "It keeps you focused, it keeps you occupied, it keeps you inline and it keeps you responsible!" says Anthony.
His recovery journey began when he started going to a local community centre that provided him with support, he found them by chatting with an old friend who thought it might help.
He had always been a very active person, in his professional life he had been a builder until his body couldn't keep up anymore. So after getting himself into a better place personally it was a very natural progression to help other people.
Lending a hand
His chance came during a stay at residential rehab. He had been there for a while, when he was asked to welcome newcomers and give them support at the start of their stay. He found it really rewarding and once he left there he decided to continue this work. "I needed to do something" says Anthony.
Since then he has run peer support groups, presented to organisations and been on various committees that aim to improve treatment and experiences for people affected by alcohol and other drugs.
The ups and downs of recovery
It hasn’t always been the smoothest ride for Anthony, like many others parts of his recovery journey have been a bit hit and miss. Sometimes he would slip up, but each time he learnt from it and has made progress.
Over time he has found being in recovery easier, ‘I know where my brake pedal is, I can pull myself up.’ says Anthony.
Anthony’s tips to keeping on track:
- Preparation - mindfully preparing for your day can really help keep you on track.
- Mange your Money - If you’re going out for the day by yourself, leave your bankcards are home, just take enough money to get where you’re going and to buy some food. Anything else can be too much temptation.
- Surf the Urge - Learn about urges and how to surf them - if you have an urge, you can surf it until you get home. If you still have the urge when you get home have a shower, that’s always a great way of clearing your head.
If you are interested in getting involved there a number of ways to get started:
- Be a peer supporter: We will be launching our peer to peer forum soon (learn more here) and we are looking for peer leaders to help form the forum - if you are interested go to the Contact us page and let us know.
- Share your own story, it can help to write your experiences down, giving clarity about where you are and where you have been. Reading recovery stories can be really helpful for other people as well, as it gives them strategies and hope of what can be achieved.
We hope you are finding our updated site helpful. It’s been designed to make it easier to find information, more engaging and to be responsive on different types of devices including smartphones.
We have launched this news and articles page as a tool for people seeking assistance with alcohol and drug related concerns.
We want to share a wide range of content including people’s stories of recovery, strategies, research opportunities and relevant news stories that will help inspire our community.
We will be posting new stories on a regular basis and welcome input from people who would like to become involved. Use the Contact Us page to send us your idea.
Counselling Online is a program funded by the Australian Government's Department of Health and is operated by Turning Point in Victoria.
We strive to promote and maximise the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities living with, and affected by alcohol and other drug-related harms.
If you would like to chat to a Counsellor you can start straight away it's free, confidential and available 24/7.