Prioritising self-care during a loved one’s recovery

Spending too much time thinking about the problem isn’t going to make it disappear.


Thinking too much is exhausting, and your thoughts are not going to change your loved one’s behaviour, or stop them using drugs. They will only stop using drugs when they are ready. You can support them through this change process, and at the same time ensure that your needs, and the needs of other family members, are met.

To add balance to your life, try to include as many of the following as you can:


Exercise is a great way to de-stress, and to let out any pent-up anger. Walking is a great way of releasing your thoughts outside the house, and aerobic exercise is good for tiring yourself out in a healthy way.

Social and Recreational

You might find that something you used to enjoy doing has been put on hold recently, as you have tried to come to terms with your loved one’s drug use. It is important that you start doing these things again and try to carry on life as normal.

Your friends are important people to have around at this time. If you have neglected them recently due to your loved one’s problems, then try to set a certain day in the week to plan something together.

Talking it through – extra support

Talking through your feelings without judgement is so important for your wellbeing. Some people find it very helpful to attend support groups, where they can meet other parents, sisters, brothers, children and partners of people who use drugs. Talking to others going through similar challenges can provide strength and make you feel less alone.

The Rest of the Family

You might find that you have neglected the rest of your family whilst dealing with your loved one’s drug use. Children can grow a little resentful of constantly hearing about your loved one’s behaviour and problems.

Try as hard as you can to give them some normal, quality time. Go out together as a family once a week and agree that your loved one’s drug use will not be discussed.

Managing Stress and Anxiety

Living with a loved one using drugs can bring untold strain, and emotional and financial stress, on the family.


It is easy to get yourself worked up, and you might even feeling yourself losing control or panicking. It is important that you remain as focused as you can, and if you feeling yourself getting stressed, give these exercises a go.

Controlled Breathing

  1. Find somewhere you can sit down
  2. Place your hands on your stomach
  3. Close your eyes
  4. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose
  5. Hold the breath for a moment, then breathe out slowly through your mouth.
  6. Breathe in from your diaphragm and concentrate on your breathing until you start to feel calmer

The controlled breathing regulates your heartbeat, the hand on your stomach helps to ground you in the here and now.

Visualisation Technique

  1. Find somewhere to sit down and close your eyes
  2. Visualise a place or time when you were really happy – a very strong, positive memory
  3. Focus on the small details of your memory. For example, if your memory is of a favourite seaside place, picture how the sunlight glints on the water, or the sounds of the gentle breeze.
  4. Remember how good you felt at the time, how happy and relaxed you were. Stay with that feeling.
  5. If you can’t recall a memory, try to visualise a place in the future, where you would feel safe and happy.

Whenever your panic attack starts, concentrate on your happy memory, step out of the panic attack and into your visualised place. Focus on how good you felt in that place until you start to relax and your panic attack subsides.

''Since getting your help I feel so much stronger and empowered. It has been a lifesaver to me, and transformed how I relate to my son. I find myself now helping others and repeating the lessons I have learned to anyone who needs similar advice.''

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