Guest post submitted by Teresa Greenhill of Mentalhealthforseniors.com.
Addiction can affect any age group – no one is immune to the powerful force that infects our brains when they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Recognizing that there is a problem, overcoming it, and mending fences with those who you may have pushed away are the first steps towards complete recovery. The following are a few ways that seniors in recovery can make amends with loved ones and take back their lives in time for the holidays.
Be the first to reach out.
There are lots of ways to reach out to those you haven’t spoken to in a while, but a simple phone call or e-mail is a great start. Reaching out tells your loved ones that you recognize the time you spent apart, and you don’t like the distance. If you’re genuine, your loved one will reach back, and you can start mending the broken fences caused by your past problems.
Join a community of fellow people in recovery.
As we grow older, many people may realize that they don’t have as many friends as they used to. Friends move away and get busy, so it’s easy to lose touch. This is why if you’re a senior in the process of addiction recovery, it’s a great idea to join the other recovering addicts in your area. Research done at Sheffield Hallam University in England found that recovering addicts found more permanent results from having fellow peer support in their community. Connecting with those who are suffering similarly to you can be a humbling experience and help you understand that you aren’t alone.
Prepare yourself for the holidays.
For many recovering addicts, the holidays can be a difficult time. Not only are you likely going to be spending time with your family who are all aware of your addiction, you’ll likely be reminded of old memories. Psychology Today suggests preparing yourself for future get-togethers. If you think that your family may ask you uncomfortable questions, think of appropriate answers ahead of time. If you aren’t spending time with family during the holidays, plan activities to distract yourself. Go to a movie, plan a trip to an ice skating rink, or try arts and crafts. Any new experience is better than being alone with nothing but your thoughts.
Find a purpose.
When you’re 50 years or older, you may find that there aren’t many things left for you to do that feel purposeful. Perhaps you’ve already been married, had kids, and worked hard in a fulfilling career. Still, there are plenty of things for seniors to do that can give them a purpose after giving up their addiction. Volunteering is a wonderful way to perk yourself up and make yourself feel good. Something as simple as serving food at a soup kitchen or mentoring a young child in your favorite subject can make you feel great. You can go back to work if you find yourself feeling unfulfilled, but try to find something meaningful to add even more value to this chapter of your life.
Addiction recovery is one of the hardest things that a person can go through, and it can be especially difficult for seniors; it can be challenging being vulnerable around those you feel that you should be taking care of, not the other way around. The most important thing to remember is that the hardest part is in the past. Follow these steps, and you’ll be even closer to taking back your life permanently.