Nothing makes you feel as helpless and powerless as your loved one’s addiction. It’s as if you’re standing feebly on the sidelines, unable to do anything other than watch your spouse, parent, child or sibling spiral out of control.
But no more. You have more power than you realize to support someone struggling with addiction. At The Raleigh House, we believe family and friends play a significant role in helping their loved ones achieve recovery. All it takes is knowing the right things to say and do.
It can be difficult to find the right words to say or actions to take when a loved one is struggling with a substance abuse disorder. After all, there’s no way to walk a mile in their shoes to fully understand what they’re going through.
Fortunately, we can help provide answers to some of your most common questions when trying to figure out how to help an addict.
Don’t accuse them, judge them or make them feel ashamed. Instead, approach conversations with your loved one with compassion and patience. Tell them that you love them and are just concerned about what their drug use is doing to them. Ask them questions about why they drink or use drugs and how their substance abuse makes them feel. If they believe they can open up to you, you’ll be one step closer to getting them the help they need.
Living with or dealing with a drug addict can be challenging. Above all else, remember that addiction is a disease and that how your loved one behaves when drunk or high isn’t actually who they are. Educate yourself about addiction and seek out support groups to help you work through the pain you’re going through. Set clear boundaries about what you will and will not tolerate from them, and make sure to stick to those agreed-upon boundaries.
You’re not a helpless bystander in the story of your loved one’s addiction. Support them by sticking to your limits and talking to them about their substance abuse when they’re sober. Educate yourself on the signs of overdose, keep Naloxone on hand (if your loved one is struggling with opioid abuse) and encourage them to seek addiction treatment. And don’t forget to seek emotional support for yourself, which can give you the strength to continue supporting your loved one during this difficult time in their life.
What you shouldn’t do for your loved one is just as important as what you should be doing for them. In many cases, loved ones of an individual struggling with substance abuse try to help them by giving them money or excusing their behaviors. Unfortunately, this only enables the addiction further.
If you’re trying to support your loved one, you need to avoid common enabling behaviors, like:
These actions are oftentimes counterintuitive because they aren’t typical ways of taking care of someone. But if your loved one is struggling with addiction, enabling only extends their substance abuse and hurts you in the process.
Instead of enabling their alcohol or drug use, focus your desire to help in finding addiction treatment for your loved one.
There are countless addiction treatment centers across the United States, all claiming they can help your loved one recover from addiction. What treatment facilities are credible? And which ones can actually help your loved one?
As you’re researching addiction treatment programs, there are some common items that you should keep top-of-mind during your search. Below are some tips on what you should look for when you’re looking for a treatment program for your loved one:
Testimonials, faculty information and accreditation to ensure the facility’s credibility. You should also call the facility and speak with admissions to get a better idea of what the treatment center is like and if they have an established reputation or not.
Look for and ask about dual diagnosis treatment. Oftentimes, depression, anxiety or another mental health condition influences substance abuse. You’ll want your loved one to get treatment for both addiction and mental health challenges in order to reach long-term recovery.
When viewing the treatment center’s website or when on the phone with an admissions counselor, make sure they have experience treating the substance(s) your loved one is struggling with. If they haven’t treated your loved one’s addiction before, you risk the facility’s staff not knowing the right care approach for your loved one.
Detox or outpatient treatment alone oftentimes isn’t enough for lasting recovery. Your loved one deserves and needs a treatment center that offers a continuum of care, from detox and residential treatment to outpatient treatment and sober living.
Talking to a loved one struggling with addiction is never easy. And if you haven’t been able to convince your loved one to seek treatment, it’s time for an intervention.
A professional interventionist will assess your loved one’s condition, develop an intervention strategy and instruct you and your family members on how to behave during the event. The interventionist will be able to manage stressful or emotional moments, and will know how best to respond if your loved one refuses treatment. This is the best opportunity to convince your loved one to enter addiction treatment.
Your loved one will need you more than ever after they’ve completed addiction treatment. By this point, they’ll have worked through their substance abuse, gotten sober, tried to make amends with family and friends, and developed healthy skills and habits to maintain their sobriety.
To help your loved one avoid relapse and stay in recovery, you can:
And of course, if they end up relapsing, remind them that they haven’t failed. Instead of judging or blaming them, be there for them and guide them back into addiction treatment.
Your loved one’s addiction has been heartbreaking. And some days, you may not know how to go on or what to do to help them. But remember that all hope isn’t lost. You can make a difference and help your loved one save their own life.
At The Raleigh House, we have over 10 years of experience helping people just like your loved one find lasting recovery. We can answer any questions you have and help you determine the next steps in getting your loved one into treatment. Contact us today to get support for your loved one’s addiction.