HOW TO HELP A LOVED ONE WITH ADDICTION
Take the time to learn more about the nature and behavior of alcoholism and drug addiction. Addiction is much more than substance use of things like alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, opioids or prescription drugs. It can be an addictive behavior that’s usually due to some underlying emotional mental health issue, chemical imbalance or another behavioral health disorder that causes a person to act a certain way or to self-medicate. It’s more about thinking that using drugs or drinking alcohol although it’s the drugs, alcohol and suicide that kill addicts and alcoholics.
People with such behaviors can be addicted to just about anything in an unhealthy way – whether it’s sex, exercise, work, eating or a substance. When someone is addicted to something, there are often co-occurring disorders at play such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, obsessive compulsiveness or eating disorders.
Once a person becomes addicted to a substance or behavior, the continuing alcohol and substance abuse is more about homeostasis rather than getting “high.” As time goes on, the perceived benefits of that behavior or substance that originally lured them in usually fades away, but the cravings and impulse remains.
A good addiction treatment program can be instrumental in a healthy start to long term addiction recovery.
Enabling a family member’s alcohol abuse and substance use comes in many forms – some of which you may not think are enabling. It’s important to recognize the behaviors and actions you and your family are carrying out that allow your drug or alcohol-addicted loved one to remain in this destructive state.
Enabling can be anything from letting the addicted family member live in your home and abuse drugs and alcohol while there, or it could be something as simple as making excuses for the person.
Denying someone you love basic care or dignity may seem like a very cruel act. It takes a lot of love to understand your enabling behavior and take steps to stop it. In the end, these actions can help your loved one on the road to recovery and save his life.
Just as important as recognizing enabling behavior is an understanding that now is not the time for blame. Now is the time for action.
This is also a form of enabling, and rears its head in different ways. When an alcohol or drug-addicted family member asks you for money, have you pay their bills or even live in your home rent-free, this may be enabling their addiction.
Your loved one may give many reasons why they are asking you for money, but unfortunately, all paths likely lead to supporting the abuse financially.
Once you have decided that you are no longer going to take part in your loved one’s substance abuse problems – that you are no longer going to enable them because you love them, yourself and your family too much – then you have to set boundaries.
Coming to that point is probably one of the hardest things to do. Enforcing those boundaries is just as hard. First, make sure your boundaries are realistic. Are you serious about them? Are you really willing to follow through on any boundaries you set?
Next, knowing why you are setting boundaries is also important. If the boundary is set in place to protect you and your family, that’s a healthier motive than using the boundary to try and control or change the behavior of the addicted family member.
Whatever boundary you set, know that your loved one may react to these boundaries in different ways, and it can be very emotional/difficult to “stick to your guns.”
You might not know this, but the recovery and wellness process is as much for your loved one as it is for you and your family. Drug abuse and alcoholism affects family relationships and each family member of an addict/alcoholic in different ways.
Emotions and behaviors surrounding the substance use disorder run deep within a family. The complicated nature of addiction can require healthcare education and therapy for everyone that’s affected during the addicts recovery process.
It’s best if family members take part in our family program although it’s optional at Recovery Works. Once the client has completed treatment, we recommend the family continue working with support programs through organizations like Al-Anon, Nar-anon, Alateen, Co-Dependents Anonymous, as well as forms of family therapy when needed.
Sometimes a loved one’s addiction can consume your life to the point of it swallowing you and your family whole. You can still love the addict/alcoholic in your family while at the same time taking care of your well-being and other family members who might be caught up in the situation as well. You do this by carrying on with your own needs in life; including your mental and physical health and other types of self-care.
Try first getting involved in free support groups like the organizations we mentioned previously (Al-Anon and the like). You can look into therapy. It does help to talk to someone. These things can help you get a better understanding of how to cope and protect your family. Remember, you are not responsible for their drug use. Do your best, and that’s all you can do.
An addiction is a disease that requires professional help from a drug treatment center, counseling and lots of work to get and stay abstinent. Complicated family relationships and issues are sometimes a factor in the destructive behavior.
Making your loved one feel hurt, scared or undermined can only aggravate the situation and cause a vicious cycle of more self-medication – especially if the person is not willing to admit they have a problem yet. Drug and alcoholism addiction treatment requires love, support and empathy and willingness on the part of the addict/alcoholic.
Your loved one likely doesn’t even know where to begin or what options are out there for them to get help. In fact, it’s likely they may not even want to hear about them.
If they’re not ready for a change, any option you present is likely to be shot down. If they are ready, it may seem simply too exhausting for them to have to research their options.
This is where you can be of service by seeing what’s out there for treatment first, so you can make educated suggestions when the time is right. There are many methods of treatment, and it’s important to keep this in mind before choosing a rehab treatment facility to explore.
Recovery Works is a 12-Step based therapeutic community. We also integrate effective forms of clinical therapies into a mind, body and spirit approach to help a person become healthy from the inside out. Understanding treatment approaches is the key to your loved one’s success in that program.
Also, there is an alternative to helping someone who is in a downward spiral whom you believe must seek help very soon, whether they want to or not. This is what is called addiction intervention. Interventions can require planning, because there are many layers to successfully staging it.
It is recommended that you speak with a professional if you believe you need an Addiction Interventionist for your loved one. Our Victoria rehab center can help you with information on intervention services. Phone the Recovery Works helpline at +1 (778)430-1212.
Trust is a key factor in this step. In Step 7, we talked about love and support replacing intimidation and guilt. Once you have established that approach, encouragement comes next.
While some rehab centers and support groups utilize the “tough love” approach, we believe you can get just as far or further with encouragement. You may be asking yourself at this point, how can you love and encourage while at the same time setting boundaries and looking out for yourself first?
When healthy boundaries are set and you are putting you first, you are more able to freely share love and empathy. You’ve made the decision to not let that person harm you or take advantage of you or whatever the boundary is you’ve set.
Once any negative feelings and emotions about the person or situation have taken a back seat, you can begin to take a more objective approach to the problem and motivate them to start getting help.
Healing from alcoholism and drug addiction is everyone’s responsibility. If an alcohol or drug-addicted family member is on the road to recovery, but you or the family has not taken steps to be a part of the healing process, this can actually hinder your loved one’s progress. Support through this drug detox process is essential. While utilizing a family program and therapy can also be a means to facilitate the healing process.
Oftentimes, addiction is deep-seeded in family issues and learned behaviors that stem from within the home. If an addicted person is trying to break the cycle and change their behavior, it’s very hard if the family has not also begun working through their own issues surrounding the problems in the home.