BURIN, N.L. - Living with an addiction is challenging and heartbreaking. Watching a loved one live with an addiction adds an extra strain because the family member or friend often feels powerless to stop the detrimental behavior.
That’s where Support Group for Loved Ones Impacted by Addictions comes in. The group meets once a week to offer information on local services, coping strategies and peer support. It is an anonymous group that was started in May 2017 by a woman who said she needed support to help a family member deal with an addiction. She requested that her name not be released.
The group organizer said the most common addictions on the Burin Peninsula seem to be alcoholism, drugs and gambling. She said dealing with an addict often affects people in unexpected ways.
“We try to tell people, when you are living with someone with an addiction, you can actually become addicted to the addict, because you become obsessed with trying to get them clean and sober,” she explained.
“You get obsessed with their lifestyle and you don’t worry about yourself no more, or your family. We try to give each person tools, like, you have to take care of yourself, you can’t enable the addict. Detachment is a big one, you have to detach yourself from the addict and worry about yourself.”
A classic slogan for dealing with addictions is “one day at a time.” This is also the mantra for the loved ones of addicts.
“I find a lot of people who focus on different events, like Christmas is a big one or summer holidays but we tell them, no you’ve got to focus on today and not worry about the future,” she said.
It also helps for folks to know they don’t have to deal with their struggles in isolation.
“We had a few people to our last meeting who thought they were alone,” the group organizer commented. “When they came to our group and noticed so many people in the same situation, they said they are going to keep coming back because it’s so good to know people are in the same situation and it helps each person in the group.”
The group also helps to inform its members of local services that can get their loved ones on the path to recovery.
“A lot of people with addictions go to the hospital in Burin because they think that’s going to help them, but really but that’s not the best place for them,” the group organizer said.
“They really need to go into the walk-in clinic, located in Marystown’s Community Services Building, 10 Harris Dr., open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, because they can go in and sit down with a drug counsellor that day, within an hour.”
The towns of Grand Bank and St. Lawrence also offer walk-in mental health and addictions services in their health care centres.
The group organizer makes herself available to the group’s members for emergency assistance.
“We give out our phone numbers and tell people to call us any time of the day or night,” she concluded.
The group meets every Sunday night from 8 to 9 p.m. in the Burin Health Care Centre’s conference room, two doors down from the chapel.