What Should I Do for a Loved One Who’s Addicted? Advice for Family Members
Posted on May 21st, 2015 by willowtree
It’s a growing problem, even among loving families. Addiction to drugs or alcohol represents one of the most prevalent issues in modern society, and it doesn’t just impact the addict. If you have a family member who struggles with addiction, you may feel at a loss for an effective way to help him or her.
How do you proceed?
First, watch your loved one carefully over several days or weeks. Identify behaviors of concern and write them down. Discuss your concerns with other family members and friends, particularly those who have dealt with similar family problems before.
If the whole family decides that a problem exists, discuss the best way to speak to your loved one about getting help. A caring physician or mental health provider can offer suggestions.
When you speak to a counselor or medical professional, offer examples of your loved one’s behaviors. Examples help professionals get a thorough picture of the addict’s patterns over time.
Before you choose a clear course of action, you need to understand addictive behavior. Addiction to drugs and alcohol can take precedence over any other priority in an addict’s life. The cravings are strong, and they only become more urgent with time.
As you learn more about addiction, you will see that addiction isn’t just something that people can overcome with willpower alone. Addicts need loved ones who are strong enough to intervene. By educating yourself about the problem, you gain knowledge and power. Then you can better act.
Although confronting an addict is rarely easy, it’s a critical step. Always opt to intervene early; don’t wait until the “rock bottom” stage to speak to your family member. Treating an addict in the early stages proves less difficult than doing so later.
When you speak to your addicted family member, show love and concern—especially if your loved one becomes angry or confrontational. Stay calm and non-reactionary. Instead, offer several examples of behaviors that worry you. Suggest clear, reasonable options for treatment and support.
Also, remember that threats and bribes don’t work. At the same time, you shouldn’t shield your family member from his or her behaviors. Show him or her that you believe in his or her ability to change with proper treatment. Stay as positive—but as realistic—as you can.
Those who live with an addict know how easy it is to feel guilty and worn down by the struggle. Make sure you care for yourself so you stay strong during the process. This is not a selfish act! Establish a normal routine whenever possible so you can weather the rough road ahead.
Eat nourishing meals—on time. If you have trouble sleeping, talk to a counselor or medical professional about ways to get enough rest. Keep up with your regular exercise routine.
Additionally, if an addict becomes abusive, seek help right away so your entire family stays safe. Abusive behavior is a sure sign that an addict needs prompt professional care.
Although you face a difficult path ahead, you don’t have to face it alone. Both professionals and friends can support you and other family members as you help your addicted loved one.
As you seek support from friends, support groups, and counselors, remember:
- You didn’t cause your loved one’s addiction. Stop blaming yourself.
- Working harder or doing more tasks for your loved one isn’t always the answer. You can’t control the addiction or cure it. Get outside help.
- You can find ways to cope with any situation if you have a strong support system. Lean on others when you feel weak.
Finally, seek treatment early from your professional rehabilitation and recovery center. An expert, caring staff knows just what to do to help your family member—and you. Talk to them today.
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