Even During Alcohol Awareness Month, Pay Attention to Your Self Care!
April is Alcohol Awareness Month and the statistics are horrific, wreaking havoc on families. Here are just a few facts from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to remind us that the social elixir of alcohol can turn deadly in the hands of people with an alcohol use disorder.
- 29.5 million people ages 12 and older had AUD in the past year. (NSDUH)
- 894,000 youth ages 12 to 17 had AUD in the past year. (NSDUH)
- Approximately 10.5% (7.5 million) of U.S. children ages 17 and younger live with a parent who has alcohol use disorder, (SAMHSA – 2017)
- In 2019, alcohol use accounted for 2.07 million deaths of males and 374,000 deaths of females, globally.
As BALMers, many of us deal with the microcosm of these challenges in our own homes. With BALM, we learn skills and tools to potentially tip the scales toward recovery for our loved ones while also bringing recovery into our own lives.
For instance, this week, in the BALM Family Program, we are exploring Principle 5:
“Keeping your focus on yourself and off of your loved one will help you both.”
While this principle may seem counter-intuitive after seeing the above statistics, it is a very important piece of the BALM puzzle designed to help you and your struggling loved one have the best chance of recovery!
The BALM is filled with tools that work to help you wake your loved one up to consider a life of recovery. And, this principle is designed to wake YOU up to the fact that you, too, are on your own journey. Your journey, separate from that of your loved one, requires your presence and attention!
In fact, when you are dealing with your own or a loved one’s struggles with alcohol or other drugs, paying attention to your own well-being takes on greater significance for your loved one’s journey as well. A healthy you has a better chance of being able to be an effective advocate and BALMer for your loved ones, whether they are healthy or still struggling!
So, may I ask, how’s your self care?
If you read that question and cringed, you are not alone.
A spate of articles recently confirmed the overworking culture in the US. Without going into the details, it is easy to understand how work AND the challenges of dealing with your own or another person’s addiction/recovery struggles may leave you little or no time or energy to step back and take care of yourself.
And yet, self-care is an essential part of BALM recovery.
For me, self-care comes through reading a good book (I’m in the middle of an enchanting work of fantasy this weekend!), walking my two dogs, and sitting quietly in the Peace. I also enjoy playing with my granddaughter (last week we made and played with Slime for a couple of hours), eating nutritiously, and walking in the swimming pool with Alan or through the neighborhood with myself or a friend.
I remember the days of feeling like I didn’t have time to take care of myself. “How can I?” I asked, with everything going on?”
As it turns out, much of what is going on is exacerbated by an energy of worry and upset during time that could be better used to relax and re-energize ourselves. I learned how and it made a real difference in how I showed up for my loved one.
I remember the shock he felt the first time he saw me enjoying myself rather than hovering over him. At first, he looked for me…Finding me in another room curled up with a good book, HE hovered for a moment and then shrugged and walked away.
This experience helped me see the other half of the benefit of principle 5: When we stop hovering, our loved one has the freedom to breathe, to face their own life without our overbearing watchful eyes, and to consider their own next steps. Within a few months of my becoming a person with my own life AND practicing the other BALM tools with my loved one, he made a decision to get help as well.
This new focus allowed me to have my own after work life in the middle of the chaos AND be there for him, unfettered by worry when I needed to make a decision, participate in an important conversation, or initiate a BALM conversation.
What is it you do unplug and unwind? To give yourself a break from work and stress? If you need ideas of ways to lower your inner stress, check out Principle Five’s Self Care Assessment and list of Fun Things to Do (in case your focus on your loved one has led you to forget what gives YOU joy!).
Meanwhile, enJoy the week!
And remember, BE a Loving Mirror.