What To Do When You Feel Burnt Out By Someone Else’s Addiction

We care deeply for the people in our lives and look out for those close to us. But have you ever experienced burnout as a result? Have you ever felt like you’re pouring from an empty cup and feel like you’re not helping anyone as a result? 

Burnout is real, especially when you’re striving to take care of yourself in addition to other people in your life. Moms experience burnout, teachers experience it and the family members of those struggling with addiction experience it. 

So what to do? How do you prioritize yourself while still doing what you can to help those in your life battling addiction? 

What is burnout?

According to one source, “Burnout is a form of exhaustion caused by constantly feeling swamped. It’s a result of excessive and prolonged emotional, physical and mental stress…

Burnout happens when you’re overwhelmed, emotionally drained and unable to keep up with life’s incessant demands.”

Handling the demands of a loved one fighting addiction can cause anyone to feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained and behind on one’s to-do list. Because all your energy is spent on handling what’s happening in someone else’s life, the concerns of your own life are pushed aside. And while this generosity is admirable, it inevitably does more harm than good.

How can I prevent burnout?

In order to best provide support for your loved one, you, too, need to make sure you are receiving the proper support and filling your own cup, so to speak. Because the more you receive, the more you can give. 

There are many ways you can seek support for yourself during this time, many of which only require brief moments from your day. But these brief moments, if you give them your full attention, can make a world of difference. 

Go on a walk 

Simply getting out of the house and into the sunshine can offer a lot of recovery. Vitamin D is a proven mood booster, and fresh air can physically make you feel better. Putting music on as a soundtrack to your stroll can also help improve your mood. If you need a little break and a moment to clear your head, circle the block, hang out in a local park or plan a whole hiking morning.

Eliminate unnecessary stress 

There may be stressful factors which you simply cannot eliminate—but there may be some things which you can. The things you cannot get rid of, try your best to let go of controlling. The more you try to control that which you cannot, the worse burnout will become. But if you work to let go of and minimize what stressors you can, the more relief you will feel. 


Externally processing in a space as safe as a journal is a proven way to improve mood, gain new perspective and work through the jumble of thoughts in your mind. You might realize that certain things were bigger in your head than in reality, or you might realize that you need some additional guidance in handling what’s happening. 

Pray or meditate 

Praying or meditating—whichever you prefer—can calm your spirit and ground your thoughts. It might help you let go of all the things you can’t control. Many find solace in knowing God, or a higher power, is in control of everything that happens. Praying may encourage you to place your trust in the truth that everything will work itself out over time. 

Set boundaries 

It’s important to be available to the needs of your loved one, but it’s equally important to set boundaries. Take care to not let kindness enable addictive behaviors. For example, say no to giving your loved one money if you know it’s being used to support an addiction. Instead, offer to help financially cover treatment. 

Take a day for yourself

Maybe you just need time to step away. Perhaps you give yourself a little retreat by booking a weekend cabin in the mountains or at the beach. Maybe all you need is an afternoon to yourself where you take the time to intentionally run errands and complete what you need to do. This might help ease some stress and leave you feeling less overwhelmed. 

Speak with a counselor 

There is no shame in seeking therapy for burnout—in fact, family counseling is available for exactly this reason. Whether everyone attends sessions, or you meet with a counselor on your own, you will be able to learn healthy coping mechanisms, as well as mental health strategies for handling the stress of addiction. 

Need help managing burnout?

There are plenty of resources to help you manage burnout as you navigate life with someone battling addiction. It can be challenging, but with the right tools, very manageable. 

To get in contact today with a counselor, or to learn more about supportive addiction treatments for your loved one, reach out to Freedom Detox anytime by visiting our website or calling us at 844-242-0806.