How To Help A Loved One With Drug Addiction
Nothing is more painful than watching a loved one suffer from drug addiction. You know their life is at risk and you can see a downward spiral. You have probably spent sleepless nights worrying, but you have stayed silent. Or maybe you have tried everything…. pleaded, prayed, begged, and threatened your loved one about his/her drug use but you can’t fix it. One thing is sure, you can’t control your loved one’s addiction. Here are harsh realities about drug addiction/abuse and how you can help.
To fight an enemy you need to learn about it. Read up on the drug your loved one is using (if you know it) or general drug abuse warning signs, the types of treatments available, and sources of help in your area. Groups like Nar-Anon and family addiction therapy can be extremely helpful in gaining knowledge and support.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
If you think your loved one has a drug problem, don’t ignore it. Be upfront about your concerns and let your loved one know you are noticing their behavior is changing and you are concerned. Keep the dialogue going. Your loved one may be reluctant for help or embarrassed, but trust and open communication lets them know your are there for them and want to help.
DON’T ENABLE OR ACCEPT BEHAVIORS THAT VIOLATE YOUR BOUNDARIES
It is natural to try to protect your loved one. Often because we care, we try to take away the pain and consequences of their drug use. Enabling is not good for you or your loved one. To avoid enabling, set some boundaries. It is common for addicts to lie, cheat and steal to cover their drug use. You need to identify behaviors that you find unacceptable. Take some time and come up with a thoughtful list based on behaviors that you are seeing that are unacceptable and then determine the consequences. Go over this list with your loved one so he/she is completely aware of your expectations. The hard part is enforcing your consequences when they are broken. An example of a boundary may be “You will not be using in my home or in my presence.” The consequence would be to separate from their toxic behavior. Boundaries and consequences will be different depending on your relationship, the age of the loved one, and the unacceptable behaviors the loved one is demonstrating.
Never bail out a loved one from trouble that has been caused by their drug use. Unfortunately for many, experiencing the consequences of drug use is the only way they hit bottom. Your loved one needs to recognize the problem and the need to get help.
GIVE YOUR LOVE & SUPPORT
When you love someone suffering from drug addiction, it can be hard to give the support he/she needs. You have feelings of hurt, loss trust, and extreme disappointment from their behaviors and decisions. Telling a loved one, “If you loved me you would stop” does not work. It isn’t that they don’t love you, it is they are an addict and can’t stop without help. One huge positive an addict has is the love and support of family and friends. Love unconditionally and never give up on them. Motivate, encourage, and provide the incentive for change. Never let your loved one forget that they can turn from drugs and live a clean life.