Addiction is often referred to as a “family disease” because of how it affects everyone with a family and group of loved ones. But it can be stressful and confusing, so while you may want to help someone with their substance abuse problem, you may not know where to start.
It is important to understand the addiction and take specific steps to getting the help your loved one needs. Taking time to make the proper steps to get them help will also free you from what can be a mentally draining and exhausting situation.
5 Ways to Help an Addicted Loved One
1. Be a Good Example of Self-Care
It is hard to care for another person if you are not cared for, first. Practice good self-care and be mindful of your needs and mental health. Focusing on helping a loved one who struggles with addiction is often mentally tiring and things like self-care may go unnoticed and forgotten about.
Caring for yourself can set the example for an addicted person to see what caring for yourself looks like, without the use of substances.
- Eating healthy
- Talking through emotions
- Setting healthy boundaries and balance in life
2. Remain Empathetic
It can be easy to feel angry and easily emotionally triggered when a family member is struggling with addiction. However, despite how angry, sad, disappointed, or frustrated you may feel, there are things you can do to get proper help for someone addicted to substances.
The first thing you can do to help someone with an addiction is to adopt a sense of empathy.
Addiction can happen to anyone, regardless of character or education. It does not mean the person wants to be addicted or even likes their behavior. If your loved one is struggling, chances are, they are too afraid to admit it.
When you display empathy and understanding of the pain they are going through, their addiction can be delicately handled. Offer your support and make them feel cared about.
3. Create a “No Judgement” Zone
It is easy to be judgemental and resentful towards a loved one with a substance abuse problem. Whether those feelings are subdued or boiling over, it can affect the way you interact with them. While your feelings are not invalid, they need to be repressed out of respect for your loved one and the desire to get them the help they need to get clean. Much easier said than done, but by doing this, you are creating a “safe space” for them to be open and honest about their addiction while getting help they need.
4. Resist the Urge to Enable their Addiction
When you care about someone who has a substance addiction, the toughest thing you can do is learn how to say “no.” If an addict has someone who will consistently help them get out of bad situations, they will never learn the consequences of their addiction.
Family and friends of addictions persons usually have the deepest desire to help, but can also become the ones who are the most enabling. This may come in the form of lending money, listening to the problems they keep creating for themselves, bailing them out of jail, or driving them somewhere they can access illicit substances.
Learning how to give a solid, yet loving, “no” is important when teaching someone how to manage their addiction.
5. Be Educated
Learning about treatment types and what is available for different types of substance addictions is key in helping a loved one. It is not enough to offer help, but the most assistance will come from you knowing what will help and types of treatments there are. It can seem overwhelming at first.
Here are some resources when beginning your addiction treatment research:
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Call a local treatment center to learn about their programs