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Loving someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol can be complicated. Many times, in our efforts to show our addicted loved ones support we end up enabling them – with or without knowing we’re even doing so. The question arises, what should you do? How can you show your love and support in a healthy way while keeping solid boundaries? How can you help your addicted loved one without enabling them?
The following tips will aid in the development or maintenance of a healthy and loving relationship; not just for this Valentines Day, but in life!
Tip 1- Show Them That They are Valued
When people become dependent on a substance such as drugs or alcohol it can have a strong impact on their self-esteem and self-worth. Showing your addicted loved one that you still love, value and care about them can help them in the process to believing that they are worth recovery. Showing them that they’re valued can come in the form of a simple kind word, which can have a profound impact on lifting their spirits. Let them know they are not alone. Remind them of their accomplishments, aspirations and the positives you see in them. Remember, compassion works better than scolding. At the same time resist giving your loved one too much of yourself by putting all your energy into trying to “fix” them. It is up to them to first be open to accepting help.
Tip 2- Learn More About Recovery
Simply put, it is hard to help someone with something you don’t fully understand. By doing a simple online Google search or reading addiction recovery blogs you can find thousands of materials about what works when it comes to recovery. This will mean a lot to your addicted loved one because not only does it show you care but it shows they are worth your time and that you want to help. Your loved one may be so caught up on trying to maintain their addiction that they don’t know where to start when it comes to getting help. Do your research and come to them with the information you find. Offer them some treatment options or even just a ride to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting if they aren’t ready for treatment yet. Read “how-to’s” for setting healthy boundaries. This will benefit both you and your addicted loved one in the long run and may even help to save their life!
Tip 3- Don’t Give Up
Your addicted loved one may face a long and hard road to recovery. People often lose hope believing that their loved one will never get sober and clean. Just because they went to treatment once, twice or even twenty times does not mean this person will never recover. Each time they try they are getting a step closer to long term recovery. No one is “too far gone”. Any person suffering from addiction has just as much of a possibility to recover as any other. If they fall, help them back up and encourage them to try again until they are successful in sobriety! Try to offer support no matter how many times they “slip”. Shout it out from the rooftops, relapse does not equal failure.
Tip 4- Take Care of Yourself First
If you have ever been on an airplane you know that they always tell you that if something happens to make sure you put on your own oxygen mask first. This is because you cannot be of help to someone else if you do not take care of yourself first. This is especially true when showing support for your addicted loved one. The best thing you can offer your loved one is to take care of YOUR emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. Show love for yourself this Valentines Day, it not only can facilitate a healthier relationship with your loved one but may also influence them to take care of themselves as well. Be mindful that your addicted loved one is suffering from an addiction that can be all-consuming. It may be hard for them to show you how valued you truly are due to the difficult battles they are facing. Try not to take this personally! You only have control over your own choices. So, show yourself a little extra love FOR your addicted loved one.
Tip 5- Provide a Safe and Sober Environment
One of the most beneficial things you can do for your addicted loved one is to help provide them with basic needs such as a safe environment. I am not suggesting you let them live with you or to lower your expectations for boundaries but offering a place they can visit and feel safe could really show them how much you love them. Not only that but you are setting a healthy example for your loved one. This will help them tremendously in long term sobriety. So many things can cause triggers for those struggling with addiction. Providing a safe space, that they know will be there, you can help them avoid triggers with a substance-free and compassionate setting.
Enjoy this special holiday and remember to never lose hope. Recovery is possible!
Author: Erika Dyer – Footprints to Recovery – Admissions Coordinator