Help for Addiction: What You Can and Can’t Do for Your Loved One

Addiction is a terrible disease that can tear families apart.

Are you worried about your loved one and think they need help for addiction issues?

Of course, you want to help, but it is important to know what you can and can’t do for your loved one when it comes to their addiction.

What You CAN’T Do For Your Loved One

1. Do the Work for Them

As much as you would like to, you simply can’t do the work for them. A big part of the recovery process is acknowledging one’s role in the addiction and how their actions have affected others.

It would be so nice to just wave a magic wand and, presto, your loved one is cured of their addiction. However, the reality is that it takes a lot of work every day to recover from addiction.

2. Have High Expectations

This may be hard to read, but if your family member has an addiction problem you can’t hold them to high expectations, at least at first. Part of the recovery process includes relapsing.

If your hope is that they will not take another drink again or use drugs, then you are only setting yourself up for failure. Now, this does not mean your loved one doesn’t want to stay sober, it’s just really hard.

Life throws all kinds of curve balls that cause stress, like for example:

  • Losing your job
  • The breakup of a romantic relationship
  • Medical problems
  • The loss of a friend or family member.

Life’s challenges can be even more stressful when getting help for addiction. If you believe that your family member won’t be tempted to use again, you would be mistaken.

3. Expect Their Old Self to Return

It is tempting to say to yourself, “If she stopped using, she’d be her old self again.” We want our family member to be happy, healthy, and OK. Seeing your loved one in the throes of addiction is hard when you remember what they were like before they started using.

You can hope for the best, but remember that addiction, along with all of the negative experiences that can occur, it can have a profound impact. Anyone who has lived through that will certainly see changes in their personality and outlook on life.

4. Guilt Trip Them

If only your loved one could understand how much they have hurt you, then they will get help for addiction! Although we would like to believe this to be true, the reality is much different.

It may be that your family member already has feelings of guilt, shame, and anger towards themselves and their actions. The problem is that as long as they are still using and addicted it is impossible for them to translate those feelings into real action. They may be able to stay clean for a day or two, maybe even a week. Yet, without professional help, your loved one will slip up and use again.

What You CAN Do For Your Loved One

Know What’s in Your Control

Knowing what is in your control applies not just to addicts but their family members as well.

Some things you can control are, for example:

  • Keep the lines of communication open to your loved one
  • Hold boundaries so that you don’t enable
  • Make sure the other members of your family are safe
  • Be open with each other about how your loved one’s behavior is affecting the family
  • Provide encouragement if your loved one decides to go to rehab or make changes in their life
  • If they want to come over to your home insist that they are sober and do not bring any paraphernalia
  • Continue to love your family member

It’s hard for a family to watch a loved one descend into addiction. That’s why it is important to know what you can and can’t do. You can provide the help for addiction that your loved one needs, but remember that you can’t force them to accept it.

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