How Journaling Can Help You Cope with Addiction in the Family

journal-power-9Having an addict in the family is an unbelievable hardship.  If you have a loved one struggling with addiction, you likely feel helpless to do anything about it.  It’s normal to feel frustrated and betrayed, and these emotions can have a huge impact on your daily life.  Fortunately, many people who have an addict in their family have found solace in keeping a journal.  Journaling can be a very therapeutic way to get your emotions out in a constructive way.

A first step in sharing your story

Many times people instinctually keep their family member’s addiction a secret from the rest of the world.  It is always recommended to share your struggles with people who care for you and can lend you support.  However, if you are still uncomfortable sharing details of your situation with others, then you can begin the process by sharing your story in a personal journal.  By writing down the story as you might tell it to someone else, you could gain some personal insights into the situation.  It will also make you more comfortable putting your story into words, encouraging you to talk to others about your struggles.  Once you are comfortable confiding in others, you’ll be surprised to find how many people have dealt with similar circumstances.  It's also important to remember that if you have a family member who needs drug rehab treatment, centers are available to help and will listen to your personal story.

A safe space to let your emotions out

Keeping a journal also provides you with a safe space to express your angers and fears.  This can go a long way towards easing your stress levels.  In fact, stress psychologists have found that journaling even enhances immune function.  To decrease your stress when dealing with an addict in the family, try writing down your experiences from an objective standpoint.  Then write your feelings about what happened.  Then write down why you feel those emotions.  The best part about a personal journal is that you don’t have to hold back your emotions or bite your tongue.  You can write about your deepest, darkest fears, your intense feelings of betrayal, and your unending frustration.  There are no wrong words when you are keeping a journal, just let your feelings flow and communicate whatever you are feeling to the paper.

A way to gain new perspective

Different people have different experiences after writing, and these experiences can change throughout the process.  Many people find a profound sense of relief after writing.  They come away with a newfound view of the situation and are able to come to terms with the way things are.  People often find it easier to accept the things they cannot change after they’ve had a chance to truly explore them through writing.

On the other hand, some people experience intense feelings of depression after writing.  However, this doesn’t mean that the writing was not worthwhile.  You will have still gained new perspectives from your writing, and the feelings of depression will go away as you continue to gain an understanding of yourself and your situation.

A reminder to take care of yourself

Journals are also useful in that they can help you lay out a plan for moving on with your life.  When you learn that a family member is an addict, it can throw your entire life into disarray.  At some point it’s important to get your own life back on track by focusing on yourself.  Use your journal to write down the activities that you used to enjoy, but have stopped since addiction came into your family’s life.  Then write down a plan to incorporate these things back into your life, along with some new activities that can help contribute to your overall health and wellness.  Use your journal as a reminder that it’s time to start taking care of yourself.



Elliot_CaleiraElliot Caleira is a freelance writer in the self-mastery and health and wellness spaces. When he's not writing you'll find him cooking or teaching Portuguese classes.