How do you keep it together when your loved one's addiction is not going well and other life challenges flare up too?



“How do you keep it together when your loved one’s addiction is not going well and other life challenges flare up too? Think death of a loved one, financial pressures, job performance.”

Ever felt this way? You’re trying to be the best ally to your loved one and then fuel is poured on the fire with some other big life-happenings.

*Posting on behalf of a Village Community member


I know how this feels, it’s made me realize just how little extra bandwidth I have to give outside of caring for and concentrating on my loved one. This is a really, really tough one.

For me, I think my tendency is to go into survival mode. Push through the tough stuff and eventually collapse.


No easy answer here. When my brother told me he started using drugs I was at a funeral for a close friend’s parent and wasn’t able to talk to him. I thought, “How could these two horrible things be happening at once? And how do I support my friend and my brother who is reaching out for help?” I told my brother I was at a funeral and couldn’t talk, would call him in a bit. When I tried to call back he responded by telling me he used because I wasn’t there for him. That was HARD to hear, and I couldn’t believe I was dealing with two big challenges at once. But I had to keep it together for my friend because in that moment that was the only thing I could realistically do. Right then and there the only thing that was in my control was being there for my friend, and I could not predict what my brother was going to do. I felt horrible about not being able to support my loved one and this emotionally drained me at the time.

A few tips:

  • Be kind to yourself. We don’t always have to “keep it together”.
  • Accept your fallibility - as human beings we cannot perfectly handle all of those problems at once. So do your best to avoid condemning yourself for not being able to manage everything perfectly at once.
  • Try and take a moment to put everything in perspective and know that most problems that seem insurmountable and catastrophic will be addressed when you are available (emotionally and physically) to tend to them.
  • Prioritize what needs your closest attention and ask yourself: Who can I do the most for in this moment? Where can I be the most effective? Can I handle all of this chaos on my own or can I ask someone close to help me?
  • Never forget to take time to check in with yourself. We can’t help others if we’re not taking care of ourselves.

It comes down to the ability to accept our own limitations and work on being present and mindful. This takes practice, experience, and time. This is not easy but that’s life: ups and downs, and we can learn from all the ups and all the downs.


I remind myself I cannot save my loved one, only support him. Sometimes I have to pull back from that if it’s too hard. I think those of us who love an addict take a lot of responsibility - at times, too much - for their behaviors. That sense of guilt is very energy draining.


I’ve been feeling this way. Especially this week where I was fighting with my parents about my living situation and then my boyfriend relapsed after 6 months of being sober. I try to tune everything out and somehow I always surprise myself with how strong I am… We are so resilient and this really teaches us so much about ourselves.