1. Learn all you can about addiction.
Addiction means so much more than just a physical reliance on a substance. Addiction is a behavior that can be a symptom of underlying emotional issues, a chemical imbalance in the brain, or another disorder that has not been addressed and has led the person to self medicate. Addiction isn’t just about drugs or alcohol either. A person can be addicted to food, sex, exercise, work, or another behavior. It’s important to look at the bigger picture of an individual’s addiction. This means looking at whether there are co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, OCD, or depression present. Knowing about these underlying disorders is an important step in determining what kind of treatment is right for the person.
2. Give the right kind of support.
Supporting a loved one with an addiction is a tricky thing. On one hand, you want to do whatever you can to get them the help they need. On the other hand, you don’t want to enable their addiction or make excuses for their behavior. It’s a fine line to tread, so it’s important to remember that putting a stop to any enabling behavior and taking action are the best things you can do to help.
3. Do not give financial support.
This is another enabling behavior that will only the path to recovery harder. Financial enabling can take the form of paying an addicted family member’s bills or letting them stay in your home while abusing substances.
4. Set up boundaries.
Once you put a stop to enabling behaviors, it’s time to set up boundaries to protect yourself and your family. This step can feel harsh and can be very difficult, but remember you’re doing it out of love and a desire to get help for the loved one with an addiction. Set the boundaries and make the decision to stick to them no matter what.
5. Be kind to yourself.
Not many are aware that the recovery process doesn’t just involve the person getting treatment. Because their addiction affects family and other relationships, each person will be affected by it and will handle it in a different way. Addiction will bring out all sorts of complicated emotions, so it’s important to deal with them in a kind and supportive way. Family members and others can seek support through therapy or by joining a group specifically for loved ones of addicts.
6. Don’t let the addiction take over your life.
It can be easy to get so caught up in your loved one’s struggle, you neglect your other family members, job, or relationship. Care for yourself and carry on with regular life activities. Joining a support group can really help in this area as well.
7. Don’t try to control the addiction yourself.
Often family members will try to take matters into their own hands by using guilt, intimidation, or fear when dealing with the addict. This approach will only make things worse. Let go of control and leave the matter to professionals. The best thing you can do is act with love and offer support for their recovery.
8. Point your loved one in the right direction.
Seeking treatment is not as easy as it sounds and your loved one may not know where to begin. Do a little research and see what kinds of treatment are out there. An intervention may be a good idea if you need professional help approaching them.
9. Offer encouragement.
Once your loved one agrees that they need treatment, offer encouragement to help them stay on the right path. Recovery is hard, so all the encouragement you can give will really help.
10. Stay involved.
Many addictions are rooted in family problems, so it’s a good idea to stay engaged during the recovery process so your loved one doesn’t feel alone. It’s a time when not only the addict can heal, but the whole family does as well.