Watching a loved one struggle with addiction is heart-wrenching. You may often feel confused — unsure of what to say or do lest you worsen the situation. If you’re uncertain of the best approach to help drag your loved one out of the dark, defeated state that addiction puts them in, these practical tips will point you in the right direction.
1. Take Time to Learn About the Nature of Addiction
Having a better understanding of addiction will help you handle your loved one’s situation with sensitivity and sympathy. Read as many addiction-related resources online as you can.
When they are ready to get help, you’ll be armed with valuable insights to guide them in decision-making. You can also attend AI-Anon meetings within your local area to know more about the struggles of those living with addiction.
By educating yourself on this subject matter, you’ll refrain from expressing insensitive thoughts towards your loved one — which will only push them to engage in harmful behaviour.
2. Hold One-On-One Conversations With Them About Change
Approach these conversations with empathy and compassion. The last thing your loved one would want to feel is judged and blamed.
Express your concerns about the risky situations addiction puts them in, as doing so might open their eyes and make them entertain the idea of change. While at it, always assure them you love and value them — and that their self-destructive action will never change any of that.
3. Encourage Them to Consider Getting Professional Help
Your loved one may be reluctant to get help for different reasons. Give them the courage to pursue treatment. Share success stories of people who’ve healed from addiction through treatment. Let them picture how amazing their lives would turn out afterwards.
Don’t push too hard, though. Let them decide for themself, at their own time.
4. Support Them, but Don’t Enable Their Behaviors
You need to recognise some of your actions that may be encouraging your loved one to carry on with the destructive behaviour. You could be doing this out of love, but the truth is, you’ll be doing more harm than good.
It’s the simple things — giving them money anytime they ask for financial help, or always covering up for their shortcomings — that make it appear as though you are okay with their harmful behaviours.
Set clear boundaries so that your loved one knows you only support them as a person, not their negative actions. When they experience the consequences of their behaviour, they’ll have the motivation to change.
5. Allow Others to Intervene on Your Behalf
If you feel as though you aren’t making much difference in your loved one’s life, consider getting additional support from a few people who have a good, trustful relationship with them. Their words and approach to the situation may motivate your loved one to consider treatment.
6. Take Care of Yourself, so That You Can Be of Better Help
To always be there for your loved one during such hard times, you have to be in your best state mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Rather than allowing their situation to derail your life, indulge more in self-care activities, or seek therapy to keep you emotionally and mentally fit.
7. Look Into Addiction Treatment Options
When your loved one is ready for treatment, spend time together researching effective addiction treatment programs that will address their struggles. You can also explore these options on your own before approaching them.
8. Be Actively Involved in Your Loved One’s Recovery Journey
When they enter treatment, continue being their support system — Pray for them, keep regular contact, and show interest in knowing their progress from the doctors.
If they talk about quitting treatment, remind them what they’ll gain if they stick to it till the end. Doing all these will keep them optimistic about their recovery.
9. Don’t Give Up on Them
Be patient with them as they receive treatment. Remember that addiction recovery is a lifelong process.
Accept that relapse during recovery is a possibility, too. Don’t lose hope, thinking they’ll never change. Keep encouraging them and talking positively (in their presence) about their addiction-free future.
10. Respect Their Privacy
Most people living in active addiction prefer to keep things to themselves. Avoid pressuring them with questions. Instead, give them space until they’re ready to communicate. They’ll have peace of mind when you honour their privacy, which is important for their healing.
The Right Way to Assist a Loved One Battling Addiction
Helping a person you love to navigate through addiction is not easy. It requires you to extend compassion, empathy, and understanding, even when you have all reasons to be angry and resentful.
The best thing you can do for them is to ensure they are receiving the best treatment for addiction. Purpose to be their constant source of support throughout treatment, knowing that they aren’t the enemy — addiction is.