Loving someone with an addiction is a challenge, but it is one that can be overcome. It’s hard, there’s no denying it, but if you can help them get over their problems and become a healthier, happier person, then it is worth the struggle.
Here are some things you can do to help someone with an addiction.
Don’t Enable Them
This is potentially one of the hardest aspects of helping a loved one overcome an addiction; they will ask for help in getting what they need to function, whether it be alcohol, drugs, prescription medicine, or anything else. You will be tempted, after all, they are in pain without the vice that they crave, and you can stop that pain quickly and easily by giving them what they have asked for.
Don’t do it.
No matter how hard it is or how much they plead and beg, enabling them will not help them, and will make things much harder. It is hard to draw the right line between support and enabling, but the addict won’t be able to start helping themselves until they can see the problems their addiction is causing, and that won’t happen if you enable them.
Tough love is an idea that you might have come across when thinking about how to help a loved one with addiction – it is said to give that person the incentive to change their lives and overcome their addiction. However, ‘tough love’ can often be counterproductive, as the person with the problem won’t have the support they need to quit, and will more easily fall into old habits.
How to handle someone who has an addiction is not black and white. It is, instead, shades of gray. If someone’s addiction is because of a mental health disorder, then find a facility that deals with the issues your loved one has. For instance, if they suffer from a borderline personality disorder, there is more to this story. As The Recovery Village suggest, they could be suffering from being Impulsive Borderline or Self-Destructive Borderline. Both of which harness self-destructive behaviors.
Compassion is a great motivator, and it is this that will help more than anything. The addict will know that they can ask for help and receive it (although they won’t be enabled) whether that is through you or through professionals.
There are a number of ways to be compassionate including:
- Asking questions and listening to the answers
- Family therapy
- Acknowledging how hard addiction is
- Understanding how addiction works and what it does
Encourage Healthy Habits
Addiction can often mean a decline in mental health, as mentioned above, but physical health can suffer too. An addict might not eat properly, if at all, and they will not often feel like exercising.
If you can encourage healthy eating and exercise, you can start to make progress. A healthy body and mind are key to fighting addiction, and starting here can make things easier to deal with for everyone involved including the addict themselves. Try to establish a routine and work with your loved one to keep to it.
Look After Yourself
When caring for someone with an addiction, caring for yourself might fall to the bottom of the priority list. Yet if you are not in good health and feeling fit, it will be harder for you to care properly for your ailing loved one. Your own health must come first, and if you feel as though you are becoming ill, either physically or mentally, seek help. If you need to step away for a short while, then this might be the best thing to do. Ask the experts for advice and you can concentrate on getting yourself back in good condition.