Addiction is hard on everyone. It’s hard on the addicted as he/she loses everything: family, friends, job, money. It’s extremely hard on the addict’s loved ones, as they get to watch the person they care about the most waste away. They hurt themselves as well as their personal relations making their loved ones suffer as they watch with impotence how everything gets worse with each passing day. Have you felt powerless when you try everything you can think of helping that person through their addiction? Do you want to support them but you are not sure how? It’s a hard feeling indeed. Your instinct will always tell you to help. But, even though the intentions may be good, if the ‘help’ is not approached and given correctly, you can end up doing more harm than good. Here you’ll find some useful ways to lead that someone you care about through the right path towards recovery finally.
1. Hold Back Your Opinions
The power of projecting your thoughts is normally underestimated, when you consider addiction as a ‘phase’ or something the addicted chooses to do. It will show in the way you speak or act around them. You’ll feel disappointed as you try to help them through the incorrect channels. Their addiction has nothing to do with how much they love you. It has nothing to do with their will power or their family or their job. No matter if you beg, plead, argue, fight or yell and even though you may think so, it has nothing to do with what they want. Addiction is a disease. It has nothing to do with being ‘weak’ or a failure. You have to fully understand that in order to provide proper help, you also have to understand that just like other diseases, addiction must be treated by a professional. Don’t take matters into your own hands. Help them seek help because if left to its own devices, it can (and probably be) fatal.
2. Gather Information
The sentence of ‘knowledge is power’ applies to every field, including addiction. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier it is a very hard disease. So, the best way to help your addicted loved one is to learn absolutely everything you can about what they’re going through. It’ll help you know what to expect and what to do. A great idea is to visit forums or websites dedicated to addiction or recovering addicts. You can also go to therapy for family/loved ones or even visit AA or NA meetings or attend the support groups. It will help a lot to listen to stories and real life experiences of other people, who are going or went through similar situations as you and your loved ones are.
3. Don’t Support Your Loved One’s Addiction
Living with an addict or being very close to one will entail fixing their mistakes, helping them through cleaning, care taking and making up for their mess. Enabling them happens when you help them by paying their financial obligations. This is because, they are not conscious to be able to do so when you keep track of their appointments, their work, and other responsibilities and when you excuse them at work, with family, school and others just so they don’t get in trouble. It can even get to the point when you get so deep that you do your best to fix every problem they have due to their addiction. Every time you do this, you may think you’re helping. But, what you’re really doing is keeping them from facing the consequences of their actions. Please stop, as this will NOT help. Taking away the repercussions that the addiction brings on each person will also take away a big part of the incentive to change. This is because, they will keep on drinking or doing drugs knowing you’ll be taking care of everything. Like when you’re raising a child, you should let them know what they’re doing wrong. So, they can face it.
4. Set Up an Intervention
Once you decide you’re ready to face your addicted loved one, you should contact his/her close friends and family and set up an intervention. The goal of an intervention is to try to induce the addicted to seek professional help and accept they have a problem. When the intervention happens, everyone that attends must speak. It is very important when addressing the addict that the words are not accusing or have a negative tone. It must be informative but realistic. It is important to let the addicted know that their abuse has hurt deeply the people that care for him/her. It’s imperative to let the addict know that you will not stand by them if they don’t seek help. Mention that you won’t support them financially anymore or that divorce will be an option, family won’t visit anymore, etc. Note that if you make the announcement you have to follow through it. So, they feel the pressure and understand the consequences addiction has. If possible, when setting up an intervention, try to have the support and guidance of a professional. They can monitor and handle the situation should it spin out of control.
5. Patience and Love
Recovery is an incredibly difficult path. It will take a lot of hard work, a lot of patience and tolerance. Your role as a loved one will be to provide support, to encourage them and reminding them they are strong. You are proud of them and they can make it.