Updated: Oct 23
Your partner has issues with drugs, and you are trying to find your way, right? So you look around, and don’t find much. I know, because I’ve been there.
Now, there are program meetings for us, and depending on how true to form they are they can be either really helpful or quite the opposite. That’s one way to go.
But what if meetings don’t really jive with you? Well, while that’s no reason to not get help, honestly, outside of that, you’re pretty hard pressed to find another outlet that directly relates to the problems and emotions you can face while having a partner with drug issues.
In order to remedy that, a lot of people turn to Facebook groups or other online forums for help, but one thing I noticed is that these places end up being quite harmful to their original intent.
Besides that, you're pretty much left with more broad options like therapy, and your friends and family if you are so lucky to have them as support systems.
But just like with anything, not all sources of advice or help are necessarily good sources, and I think it’s important to point out why, how this idea translates to the rest of your life, and how you can make sure you don’t fall into any more negative traps of thinking.
Let’s take the online groups as the first example.
I’ve been a member of various groups on Facebook, and when I was in the infancy of my recovery journey, I would sometimes look to these groups for help. I assumed that there had to be at least a few people in there that went through something somewhat similar as I did, and that they would be able to give me some helpful advice.
Now, while I’m not going to badmouth anything, I do need to point out that a lot of what I’ve seen in these groups was not the helpful advice I was looking for. And it’s really not the fault of the members there, as it can easily get out of hand when it’s not closely monitored, and the moderators also have lives to tend to.
I'll give an example: I would post something that was happening to me, and would then be met with comments assuming my partner was the worst, that he was always trying to connive and hurt me, and that I was wasting my time. And as time went on and I would go on the group pages just to see what was happening and if I could give any of my own experiences to anyone else, I would see the same kinds of comments.
Things like, “He won’t ever change”, “I went through the same thing and wasted years of my life in misery”, “It’s a hopeless case”, “MAT is just a band aid and they aren’t serious about recovery”, “You should get out now while you can so that you can have a chance at a good life” and every other variation of other depressing comments.
And I mean, I get it. That’s what those people were going through at the time, and I understand that it’s where they were coming from.
But when you are actually trying to work on yourself and figure things out, having depressing and negative comments like that as your only responses (or really vague more program-oriented responses that you won’t really vibe with because you may not be familiar with program structure) really harms the recovery process. It’s easy to become frustrated and think, “This is really all I have to look forward to?” And pretty soon, you just may become one of those people, forever speaking only doom and gloom.
That’s what I find the most off-putting about those kinds of group environments. Those who need help are lost among the sea of sadness, and they then get the wrong idea about everything. It can just reinforce the whole stereotype that addicts are bad, only cause trouble, and really are exactly what society would have us believe. Any hope that we may have can be easily snuffed out.
Along with environments where misinformation can live and you might not be able to find what you are looking for, there’s also the people you associate with and have in your life. Not everyone is so lucky to have the kind of support system that gives honest but kind advice, and some of us may wonder if the suggestions and input we get is really to be trusted.
You know the people in your life the best from your standpoint, so if you have some individuals who are more negative and pessimistic, they might not be the best person to seek comfort from as they will most likely continue that narrative with your situation. You know what I mean, and it’s up to you to handle these people and interactions in a way that works best for you.
Now, I’m not saying that anyone who says anything “bad” (or actually, anything that might be tough for us to hear) is someone to write off, as there are some times where we may need to hear the truth, even if it hurts. What I want to do is simply point out some instances where your environment people-wise may be more detrimental to your overall well-being and recovery than you thought, and to get into the right place in yourself so that you will be able to more easily filter these people out.
For me, I have a particularly small circle of those I keep close, and they are the kind of people who help me to see things in a better light, and whose advice is helpful. Even outside of the situation of his addiction (since we’re both doing much better on that now), it’s good for my overall mood and experience to have these people around me.
So now that we’ve covered groups and environments with other people, there is another thing that can hinder your progress that you might forget about sometimes: yourself.
Yes, you are also your own company, and since you are around yourself literally all of the time, it's important to take self work seriously so that you keep your inner self and mind healthy and strong and able to move forward.
So pay attention to the usual suspects like resentments, sadness over past memories, and guilt, but also things that may be more specific to your life such as certain beliefs you still hold or your reactions to things.
Just like personally knowing the influence of the people you hang out with, only you can truly know what you need to work on to move forward. You are with yourself literally all of the time, and if you are always keeping negative thoughts on repeat in your head, it's only natural that you'll continue to think and believe them.
And that’s why I want to bring attention to this. It’s not only in Facebook groups or online forums, and it’s not all bad either. But I want you to be able to see situations like this, and in life in general, in a different light, so that you can find out for yourself what works for you while avoiding getting trapped in limiting beliefs and actions that keep you stuck.
If you were to be around someone who is always negative, it would be really difficult to keep yourself out of that mindset as well, and would take much more work to keep your focus. It’s important in your recovery to surround yourself with those who have similar qualities as you, and with who you find yourself most in tune with who you are.
In being in these different situations throughout my years in the world of addiction, I have found some things to make my life easier and that finally started to click this last time around. If you find yourself in some situations where you aren’t sure if they’re truly helpful or not, take these 3 questions to consider for your recovery environment:
Does this make me feel positive (or at least objective), or do I feel the need to defend or explain myself?
When you feel like you must give out more information to feel validated, heard, and to fight for your case so to speak, you might be experiencing a situation where the other side is coming from a place of their own hurt/experiences/prejudices, instead of a more level place of help and clarity.
2. Am I in good company, or am I in an environment that is detrimental to my overall wellbeing?
It’s easy to just go with what is happening and default to a place that seems easiest to
be in, but this could be harmful if you are in a negative place that is only keeping your
current negative state going. If you are limited in physical options on where to go to find something better (such as being unable to move out, etc), are you doing what you can in your current space to foster the start of a healthier environment? Are you working on your inner space as well?
3. Is this helping to build the life I want?
It’s good to take an inventory to make sure that the current environments you are in and the people you are surrounding yourself with are good for your health and wellness, because if not, they will only make things more difficult to move forward.
So you see, it’s always good to take note of who you seek advice and knowledge from, and who you like to spend your time with, on any level.
Environment has a lot of different aspects to it, from your physical situation (like where you live), to your mental space (like what you spend your time on and what you think about). It also includes where you spend your time, and who you spend your time with. And it relates to this as your friends, family, and even those people online, inhabit different environments of your life.
Only you can truly know who is helpful and who is...less helpful, and it is up to you in your recovery to ensure that you are surrounded by those who continue to uplift you and make life fun and your time with them easy-going. Again, this doesn’t mean they won’t challenge you and your choices, as those who truly care about us want us to be happy and may find different ways of communicating that with you. The point is that they don’t continually bring you down, and work with you to continue your healthy path forward.
So always ask yourself: am I going nowhere, or am I still moving towards better?
And of course, always make sure that in your circle of support, you are your closest and best friend.