Addiction is defined as “the persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.” Whether your loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, addiction affects more than just the addict — it affects the people around them as well. Stopping an addiction can be very complex, but when doing the right things for the addict’s well-being, recovery is possible for them.
Helping vs. Hurting
There are three common things that families of an addict tend to do in order to “help” their addicted loved one, but it actually ends up hurting them even worse. These three things are being their enabler, waiting until they hit “rock bottom,” and abandoning them. Instead, setting boundaries for yourself, helping them as soon as you realize they have a problem, and always being there for them can drastically improve the outcome of your loved one’s life. Shifting your “helping” approach can lead to a healthier lifestyle for everyone involved.
Be an enabler.
An enabler is someone who places the responsibilities on themselves for their loved one’s addiction. If you ever thought or said things like, “she has this addiction because of how I raised her,” or “it’s my fault that he’s this way,” you may be an enabler to them. Instead of doing this, set boundaries for yourself. Realize that it’s a good thing to help your loved one through their addiction process, but you can’t always cover for them. Don’t give them money, take the blame for them missing work, or bail them out of jail — instead, let each thing happen as it comes to show that they need to start taking responsibility for their own actions.
Wait until they hit “rock bottom.”
Help them as soon as possible.
Many people know that their loved one has an addiction, but they don’t want to bring it up in conversation. This can open up a whole new door that can lead to a variety of hardships. Although, it’s better to have the conversation early rather than waiting until they have hit “rock bottom.” It’s easier to achieve sobriety when the addict has not yet hit “rock bottom,” so you should be helping them as soon as possible. Waiting until your addicted loved one comes to you first, has experienced trouble with the law, or has overdosed can be too late — talk to your loved one about their addiction as soon as you realize that they have a problem. This is one of the most important ways to stop an addiction before it’s too late.
Be there for them.
The University of Washington’s Daniel Kivlahan, Ph.D., said that “there is good evidence that being abandoned by loved ones, in fact, hurts one’s chances of recovery. But all family members and loved ones have their limits, and I consider it important to respect them.” There are many reasons for loved ones abandoning their addicted loved one — they become frightened, don’t want to get into trouble themselves, can’t emotionally handle it, don’t want to be associated with the person anymore out of anger towards them, or feel like they would be best in the situation when removed from the picture completely. If you want what’s best for your loved one, you need to remain by their side throughout their addiction and let them know that you are always there for them.
If you or a loved one would like more information regarding how to end an addiction, get help right away. Call SAFE Prevention at 1-877-503-2608 to learn more about addiction prevention and treatment. SAFE Prevention can provide you with the necessary resources to help your loved one come out of their addiction and achieve long-term sobriety. Call us today!