Loving someone with an addiction is a very stressful thing. Now that you acknowledged that they have a problem with drinking or taking drugs, it’s time for them to seek treatment and ditch their addiction. But, addiction is a strong habit and many people don’t have the strength to get treatment. Luckily, there are things you can do as their support system and try to steer them in the right direction towards recovery.
Stop being an instigator
Did you ever lend money to your addicted loved one, got advances on your paycheck or pawned items to give them money? Deep inside you probably knew something was wrong, but you couldn’t admit it to yourself that you’re probably enabling someone’s problem and making them feel worse. But, now it’s time to stop. You can do this in a safe way that will help you avoid confrontation and next time they ask you for money, politely refuse and give them a reason why. Make sure to be nice about it—if an addict feels ganged-up on, they can disappear which is always very concerning. But, no matter how scared you are, refuse to fund their habit.
Study the situation
Addiction comes in stages and it’s quite difficult to determine exactly how deep your loved one fell. But, knowing the extent of their addiction makes a difference between a light one-on-one talk and a group intervention. For instance, if you can determine how serious their alcohol addiction is, it can be very beneficial in deciding what your next move is going to be. Make sure to get informed on signs of addiction and usual behaviors, so you can offer better help and support. This is one of the best things you can do for yourself and for your affected loved one.
Show your support
There are ways you can discuss their addiction without actually stating the obvious. Having a conversation about a subject without vocalizing the subject matter is quite easy actually. So, let them know in a very subtle way that you will be there for them if they need you and you’re not judging anyone’s problems. If you don’t bring it up directly, you can avoid bringing out any anger. Many addicts are so used to being stigmatized that they can easily mix up your attempt to help with an attempt to guilt or shame them into quitting.
Prepare for a backlash
Addiction is a disease that affects the entire body, but it can be felt especially strongly in the emotional part of the brain. Withdrawing support and setting boundaries is not something an addict wants to head so they will probably show some anger and try to manipulate you into helping them again in the future. False promises, threats, emotional pleas, attempts to rationalize their behavior and variety of other strategies will probably be used, but don’t lose your ground. An addict can’t choose whether they want to stay addicted or not—the desire to drink or take drugs is too strong to be turned off without professional help. Unless they make violent threats, stay true to your decisions.
Organize an intervention
While certain movies and TV shows glorify intervention, real and tested interventions conducted the right way with the right ultimatums can be extremely effective tools at getting the message across and helping your addicted loved one. While some think this is “tough love”, after everything you’ve tried, this is often the only option left. It can be hard for you to be mean and watch your loved one suffer through the intervention, but if you stay mindful and concentrate on your goal, you’ll all get through this.
While it will certainly take time to heal emotionally, interventions are often necessary to set the right boundaries. One of the best things about interventions is that they allow everyone involved to express their worries and their pain in a way that’s controlled and constructive. If an intervention is conducted by a professional, there’s a good chance they will come up with a way that will bring success. Remember that interventions are not designed to force anyone to anything—they should inspire an addict to become a willing patient. Even if it does involve some pushing in the right direction, they need to walk into rehab by their own volition.
It’s very important not to neglect your own health. Just because your loved one is refusing help, that doesn’t mean you have to do the same too. Living and loving an addict is very hard and draining, but there are programs that can help you deal with your pain and concerns. There are both adult support groups and those specially made for children and teens. If you need any additional help, you can also consider therapy or practice meditation and mindfulness.
Staying strong in this situation is truly hard for everyone involved, but if you practice mindfulness, kindness and patience and follow the above-mentioned tips, you will get through this difficult part of your lives and hopefully get your loved one back from the grip of addiction!