CAREGIVING

A. CARING FOR YOURSELF WHILE CARING FOR OTHERS

WITHOUT SUPPORT, HAVING A PARENT WITH AN ADDICTION CAN BE PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY CHALLENGING. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU CARE FOR YOURSELF AS YOU SUPPORT YOUR LOVED ONE THROUGH THEIR CHALLENGES. THIS MEANS YOU MAY HAVE TO SET STRICT COMPASSIONATE BOUNDARIES, AND REACH OUT TO OTHERS AS YOU TAKE A BREAK FROM THIS ROLE. 

 

 

1. CREATE COMPASSIONATE BOUNDARIES:

2. RESPITE CARE:

Respite care is a special name for a short-term break for caregivers.

  • Signs you need respite:  Exhaustion And Fatigue, Mood Changes (feeling more angry or resentful), anxiety, Feelings Of Hopelessness, lack of focus, Sleep Issues, Frequent Illnesses, forgetfulness.

  • Consider:

    • Is it safe for your loved one to go with less often check ins ?

      • NO:

        • Do not feel bad. If you need a break, you need to take it.

        • Consider: if you are visiting in person, can it be reduced to a phone call? what other family/friends can you reach out to that can phone/ visit your loved one? ​​can you hire a service? do you need to be considering home care/ long term care facilities as an option?

        • REMEMBER: if anything happens while you take a break or are not there, it is NOT your fault. 

      • YES:​

        • let your loved one know you will be taking a few days away to rest (and remember compassionate boundaries if they question you). ​

        • consider checking in less often as a basis: predetermine what days you will be calling/ visiting and let them know in advance. Be consistent with this new plan (even if at firast it feels very difficult). 

        • REMEMBER: if anything happens while you take a break or are not there, it is NOT your fault. 

3. MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT: 

MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORTS
WITHDRAWALING
RESPITE
HARM REDUCTION
COMPASSIONATE BOUNDARIES
PEER SUPPORT GUIDE

No matter how much you want your parents to stop their drug or alcohol use or to go to treatment, some parents are not ready to stop. This often means that harm reduction becomes the goal, and family is often the one providing care to their loved one.

We know this can have a huge emotional and physical toll on you, so we hope this space can support you as you support your loved one.  Reducing harm to them also means reducing harms to you.

                   

In our attempt to create a space where individuals can find supports that understand the unique needs of families impacted by addictions, we also want to make sure that you know that this is NOT a role you are expected to take as a child to a parent with an addiction. 

What is a caregiver? 

 

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada,"Caregivers are vital partners in the recovery journeys of loved ones who are living with mental health problems and illnesses. To ensure them a good quality of life, caregivers provide emotional, social, and material support, which includes navigating and advocating for services. Yet, still too often, the caregiver’s role, voice, and well-being are overlooked."

When it comes to parental addiction, however, their is a stigma associated not only with the substance use itself, but also with the caregiving. Many of us have been referred to as "enablers": this can be confusing and harmful as many children are caregiving within a system that offers no support to families.

 

With healthy boundaries, we can ensure our parent's need for food, shelter, and belonging are met, while managing the role a parent's addiction can have on our own mental health.

B. CARING FOR A LOVED ONE:

CLICK HERE

When supporting a loved who has a substance use disorder who is not ready to stop their use, the goal is harm reduction: reducing harm from the substance use. Learn more here:

 

This may include:

1. CONNECTING TO CARE:

You may be supporting your parent with some of their daily activities, or helping them connect to care such as medical appointments. Finding barrier and stigma free options that allow you and them to feel safe talking about your experiences is important. Here are some BARRIER AND STIGMA FREE options: 

2. WITHDRAWAL MANAGEMENT:

When a loved one abruptly cuts back from drugs or alcohol after having used them for consecutive days/ weeks, they can go into withdrawal.

 

This can be life threatening, especially if there is a history of severe alcohol withdrawal (including seizures, tremors, vomiting, sweating, hallucinations etc). If this is true for your loved one, encourage them to not do this on their own and to seek professional help prior to cutting back. This can also be hard for you to witness.  

If you do not live with your parent and have been a support in the past, they may reach out to you for help. If you feel mentally able to help, below we have listed some ways you can walk them through this.

 

IMPORTANT: You are not expected to take on this role. If it negatively impacts your mental and physical health, be sure to use compassionate boundaries and tell them you are not able to be a support. Instead, feel free to print, fill out and give them THIS CARD and write down any supports you know of (feel free to check out our mental health supports page for more options).

A. RECOGNIZE SYMPTOMS OF WITHDRAWAL: 

B. TREATMENT OF WITHDRAWAL:

  • DETOX CENTRES: detox centres are specific places that your loved one can go to to safely withdrawal. They will have staff who are trained in recognizing and managing symptoms and who can make it more emotionally and physically manageable. Search for detox centres in your city.

  • FAMILY DOCTOR: a family doctor can prescribe medications that can be used at home and help your loved one manage withdrawal symptoms. 

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