Burnout and Stress Among Family Members: Self-care Tips to Follow

Updated: Aug 20

During safety demonstrations, flight attendants will remind you to put on your safety mask before helping others. The same thing applies to caring for a loved one suffering from

a substance use disorder. You can’t help another person if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Your loved one may not recognize the negative effects his or her behavior has on others, including you, but addiction impacts the entire family. Whether or not your loved one is willing to seek help, remember to take care of yourself.


Whether or not your loved one is willing to seek help, remember to take care of yourself. You can’t control the actions of a loved one struggling with SUD, but you can control how to treat yourself. Prioritize self-care. Eating a balanced diet, exercises, and getting a full night's sleep are important aspects of self-care. You may find it helpful to practice meditation, take up yoga, or do mindfulness exercises. 


You can’t control the actions of a loved one struggling with SUD, but you can control how to treat yourself.

The following are self-care recommendations:


  • Make sure you are getting at least 7 hours of good, quality sleep on most nights. This is one of the key foundations for good health. However, sleeping over nine hours or extended napping can sap your energy and drive.

  • Healthy meals are another key foundation for good health. Food is fuel and our brains need healthy building blocks from wholesome meals to function well. A Simple Meal Planning can help you to get on track.

  • Whether you can exercise for 10 minutes or 30 minutes, every minute counts! Set reasonable goals and remember that getting outside in the sunshine can have lots of mood-lifting benefits and can help a person feel calm and focused.

  • Make sure to include positive content: people, reading, music, and TV. Try decluttering the negative content from your life while adding positive sources.


Don’t isolate - what you are going through is very difficult. Seek out the strength and wisdom of others who have been in your position by attending a support group for loved ones impacted by addiction.[27] There are also support groups and programs for friends and family of people with active use disorders and in recovery. Some examples of these support groups include Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and SMART Recovery Friends and Family. These support services can be a great place for impacted families to connect with others who’ve been through what you’re going through. Additionally, individual and family therapy can be incredibly helpful for families healing from the trauma of addiction. Finally, please remember that you are not alone and there is hope.




An excerpt from Navigating Addiction and Treatment: A Guide for Families, Addiction Policy Forum, 2020.




A Note From Addiction Policy Forum


Substance use disorders get worse over time. The earlier treatment starts the better the chances for long-term recovery. Many families are wrongly told to “wait for rock bottom” and that their loved one needs to feel ready to seek treatment in order for it to work. The idea that we should wait for the disease to get worse before seeking treatment is dangerous. Imagine if we waited until stage 4 to treat cancer. Decades of research has proven that the earlier someone is treated, the better their outcomes—and that treatment works just as well for patients who are compelled to start treatment by outside forces as it does for those who are self-motivated to enter treatment.


Help is Here


If you have questions or need to speak with someone for support, call or text (833) 301-4357 today. Our staff of trained counselors at Addiction Policy Forum provides free, confidential support to anyone in need of help with a Substance Use Disorder issue, including patients, families and healthcare providers.




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