Living with someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol is not an easy situation. You may be subjected to lying, manipulation, even violence. Getting the individual into treatment to deal with his or her substance abuse problem should be the primary goal, but you may be faced with a number of circumstances that require thoughtful handling.
Here are a few dos and don’ts that addiction experts recommend.
Do Face the Problem Honestly
The thought of a loved one being addicted is not a pleasant one to accept, but it’s only when you admit the depth of the problem can you really be of help to them. Make sure the individual understands that you know about the addiction and that hiding it is of no use. Research the treatment options in your area and encourage the person to enter a program immediately.
Don’t Enable the Addiction
Experts in addiction encourage family members and friends of addicted individuals to take care of their own mental health as part of helping addicted loved ones. Don’t be drawn into helping them cover up their addiction, and don’t protect them from the consequences of their actions. Allowing the person to experience these consequences can help to motivate them to get into treatment and do the work necessary to remain clean and sober.
Do Encourage Your Loved One to Get Treatment
Make it clear to your loved one that he or she needs treatment, and you expect them to get into a program immediately. Addicted individuals are always in denial about the severity of their problem. It’s your job to push for entering a treatment program that will restore your loved one to normal behavior and function. If possible, find a clinic that specializes in your loved one’s specific addiction. For example, go to a clinic like Brightside Clinic if they’re struggling with heroin.
Do Be Supportive during the Treatment Program
Friends and family can help loved ones in treatment by helping to care for children, attending family therapy sessions, listening to their doubts and struggles and generally standing by them as they learn about addiction and what they must do to return to normal function. Family support can be a critical factor in succeeding in recovery, and you can show your support in practical ways and through verbal encouragement.
Don’t Be Discouraged by a Relapse
Addiction experts warn that relapses are often part of the process of learning to manage the disease of addiction. People who are addicted must learn to recognize the events, people and places that “trigger” their craving to use the substance. This ability often takes time to master, and repeated attempts are often necessary. Getting back into counseling, treatment or 12-step support groups immediately helps to foster long-term success in recovery. If your loved one has a relapse, encourage them to get back into treatment to learn more skills for recovery.
Addiction affects not only individuals, but also everyone close to them. Ensuring that you are taking the correct actions can help get loved ones into treatment, so that they can begin the journey back to sobriety and normalcy.
Dixie Somers is a freelance writer based in Phoenix, Arizona.