There is one thing that addicts have a hard time realizing; that an addiction problem is not theirs alone. Even if the addict is willing to admit that they have a problem they are reluctant to see that its affects reach far beyond what they personally experience. The pain and suffering of the family members and those closest to them are not always readily seen until they experience some sort of drastic consequences. The burden of shame, guilt, fear, worry, anger, and frustration can take its toll on everyone around.
It is only natural for family members to be concerned about a loved one’s struggle with substance abuse. In most cases, it is the family that suffers more than the abuser because they are more in tuned with what’s happening. The family dynamics can literally be strained to its max and it is usually the addict that has drifted away from the normal role of life. According to Sober Nation,
It is possible to help your loved one get the help that he or she needs. Although it might not be an easy road, it will be all worthwhile when your family member is able to live a happy, healthy and sober life.
Here are a number of things that will help and family member help a loved one to break free from their unfruitful habits.
Learn the Facts About What You’re Dealing With
Whether you choose to do your own personal research or you decide on getting some professional counseling you have to know what you’re dealing with. Substance abuse of any kind can prove to be a ruthless enemy and the only way to fight off such an enemy is to know it. It is only once we understand the symptoms and distinctive qualities of an addict that you can even begin to start the healing process. Your perception of the disease and its ill effects has to be adjusted so that you can provide the right support. Your loved one is sick, not necessarily a bad person. Once you’ve recognized this one fact, it can go a long way in helping to give adequate support for the problems they will face. This was pointed out by the Alcoholism Rehab organization,
You can’t stay sober on your own. You need support from professionals, family, friends, and self-help groups… The fact is that it’s much too easy to engage in self-denial, to think you can solve your problems on your own.
Addicts and alcoholics are not the best judges of how to deal with a problem simply because they often cannot see the whole problem.
Don’t be a Rescuer
It may be your natural instinct to step in and rescue them either financially or in some other way but since addicts are less likely to be in tune with the affects of their habit something drastic must happen for them to see it. They will most likely need to receive the full impact of their actions on their lives. If you step in and shield them from their lowest of lows it will take that much longer for them to begin recovery. As a rescuer you are simply prolonging the inevitable and in fact making it much harder for them to recognize their problem and start on the path to recovery.
Do Not Offer Financial Support
No substance abuse habit can survive without financial support. Even if you do not feel that you are supporting the habit, you could be. You may not choose to buy the drugs yourself but buying food, paying bills, lending them money, paying the rent, or bailing them out of jail are all perfect examples of how to enable an abuser. You may have the best of intentions, but it almost always gives just the right amount of service needed to keep them going back to their habit. One way to get an addict to reach out for the recovery and treatment they need is to cut off all financial support.
Don’t Place Blame
Some people work hard to understand the abuser and try to determine if there is something wrong with the family dynamics or social environment that caused them to reach out for drugs in the first place. While this idea might seem quite noble, it can paralyze one into inactivity. Remember, your loved one is dealing with a disease and searching for an underlying cause can be an actual distraction that could prevent them from seeking the treatment that they really need and inevitably lead to disappointment and frustration when they fail to meet them.
Watch Your Emotions
It is normal for you to be emotional about the challenges you face but when you show them you can send mixed messages to the addict. Many will feel angry as a result of facing the negative consequences of the addict’s substance abuse but in time the anger will subside. Pity will usually follow once the situation has passed, which could cause you to soften your position. Emotional ups and downs are quite common in this type of situation and if you allow your responses to be controlled by your emotions then you are less likely become an enabler in the process.
Claim Your Life Back
Family members should also focus their attention on the parts of their lives that have been disrupted due to the presence of drugs. Rather than giving the addict all of your attention you need to return to the things that will bring you joy; your hobbies, caring for your health, and similar activities.
Living with an addict can be extremely challenging and making the adjustments to get your life back can be very difficult. As explained by The Counseling Center,
The resistance is a difficult but necessary hurdle for the family to over come. Yet, it is necessary if they are to be truly helpful to the alcoholic or addict.
Some may feel that taking these steps could be harsh or cruel but without allowing room for the natural consequences of addiction to be felt there is little hope that your loved one will experience a full recovery. By developing a strategy of breaking those enabling habits their loved ones will eventually see the need to reach out and seek the help they need.