A loved one’s drug or alcohol addiction affects his or her life physically, emotionally, and mentally, and heavily impacts relationships with family and loved ones. Watching a loved one struggle with addiction can make you feel helpless, hopeless, and broken. Family and friends feel a wide range of emotions from anger, sadness, despair, and fear. Sometimes people will do anything to help make things better, but may unknowingly contribute to their loved one’s continued substance abuse.
When you see a loved one suffer on a daily basis, a common reaction is to help as much as possible. Sometimes, this results in enabling your loved one’s addictive behavior. An addiction to drugs or alcohol occurs when the brain becomes physically dependent on the substance. An individual with an addiction needs more and more of the substance and is at risk of very serious health complications or death.
Family members want to help fix their loved one’s problem with addiction but often enable the behavior instead. Here are ways to avoid enabling your loved one with an addiction:
- Learn about drug and alcohol addiction. Talk to other people or families who have loved ones with drug or alcohol addictions, and listen to their experiences. Go to group meetings at AA or NAR ANON and share your concerns. Get advice and suggestions from a professional in therapy or counseling.
- Understand you cannot control addiction. A person with a drug or alcohol addiction must want to change his or her lifestyle to live substance free. He or she needs to detox first and discuss treatment options with a professional. Rehab can be short or long-term but recovery is a lifelong process and takes a lot of hard work and commitment.
- Do not blame yourself. A person’s mental health issues can contribute to his or her using drugs. Over time, excessive drug or alcohol use causes a physical addiction, and the brain needs more of the substance to function.
- Respect yourself. Do not contribute to your loved one’s addiction by accepting his or her behavior. If you do, your loved one will lose respect for you and continue using.
- Set boundaries. Set firm boundaries and do not cave in when your loved one violates them. Boundaries are limits and rules that you set to protect yourself and stay in control of what is and is not acceptable.
There are ways to help your loved one with an addiction. Support and encouragement are not the same as accepting his or her addictive behaviors but can make a difference with positive reinforcement.
Recovery is possible and healing will take place in mind, body, and spirit. Enlightened Recovery Solutions offers a holistic based, 12-step inspired, clinically proven program for alcoholism and co-occurring disorders. Call (844) 234-LIVE today for information on our partial care programs.