Benefits of participating in a Family Support Group
Today, people would describe me as positive, happy and kind. This is a big difference from who I was just over 8 years ago when while on maternity leave I had confirmation that my partner was using ice, actually his ability to function normally was disappearing as fast as him when he received a phone call. I was becoming accustomed to stories of why he did not make it home again. Over time they made less sense and the nights turned into weeks, days would go by without even a text message, I became quite good at thinking of worst-case scenarios. Then he would wander in the door like nothing had happened like I was the one who has had the problem of not being accepting of his new lifestyle choices.
I spent a good part of my free time googling and trying to learn as much as I could about this drug that I knew nothing about. What I read was those using the drug promoting how their life benefited from the use, psychosis, horror stories, meth mouth and how individuals have a 5% chance of recovering from ice addiction. One of the last times I googled this kind of content was when I found the Family Drug Help helpline number. What a blessing and what perfect timing. I had significantly whittled away my small amount of savings believing the manipulating and convincing requests of money from my partner, I believed the promises that he was unable to keep and feeling disappointed, angry and hurt. I struggled to know what was real, I was confused, and I was leaning on his sister to support me.
On my first contact with this helpline, I was offered a place in a 6-week program, which I eagerly accepted. This course was amazing, I sat with people just like me; lost, confused, sad and angry. Each week I gained more insight, I learned how to care for myself and how I had learned unhealthy coping skills to deal with my partner’s addiction. I was so caught up, holding onto the man I had fallen in love with that I had not accepted who he had become. All the behaviours and traits that worked in a relationship without ice were being manipulated to support his ice addiction and I was slowly becoming tired and worn down, doing the same things over expecting different results. The six weeks flew by and my heart felt a little empty at the thought of it coming to an end, so when I was asked if I would like to attend a support group that was in my local area, I excitedly said yes.
This support group has changed me and in turn, my life has got better. I have learned so many skills that are transferable into other areas of my life that not only has my life got better but so to have my relationships withal those around me. I still look forward to that meeting twice a month. Sometimes a guest speaker will attend and share their story of addiction and recovery, or a professional from an industry that touches me or my loved ones' lives. I have heard from lawyers who make wills and the different options available if a loved one has addiction issues, police, mental health professionals and family members whose loved ones have addiction struggles.
I have learned about boundaries, enabling, empowering, communicating, listening, assertiveness, how to be safe and self-care. I have also learned the power of being in a room of people on a similar journey to myself who share their strength, experience and hope. I have learned the value in being in a space where what is said in the room, stays in the room, how empowering it is to share my thoughts and feelings without being judged or criticised and the kindness and love that people who have experienced the pain of a loved one’s addiction have to give.
I have made many friendships in this space, people who help me with my children when I need it and people who understand my journey because some of it is also theirs.
Today I can feel blessed for my partner’s addiction because it is part of my journey that has helped me be the person I am today. A lot of what I consider positive traits have been forged by the challenges of a loved one’s addiction and the support of a group that is empowered and educated.
"ASV programs and services provide affordable, evidence-based drug and alcohol rehab options across Melbourne, Victoria. The core program is delivered in the persons home where they feel safe and their privacy is protected". - Jase Bowman - ASV CEO Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center, Melbourne 2020.