As a family member, friend or loved one of someone struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, we have the potential to be of great influence in their quest for help. At the same time, it can be one of the most difficult experiences of our lifetime. We constantly toil between staying close and enabling, being influential but not controlling and expressing love but having strong boundaries. We offer some suggested DOS and DONT’S for coping with and helping a loved one on their road to recovery.
- Do not try to persuade or manipulate the addict or alcoholic to get sober and sustain recovery for external influences. While work, family, children can all be great motivators, sustainable recovery should be based on internal value and desire to live a lifestyle of complete wellness.
- Do not make idle threats or promises with minimal intention to see it through. Keeping healthy boundaries and committing to what you say suggests to the suffering individual that you are credible and intend to enforce the limits that you have set.
- Avoid imposing negative emotions that might create shame, doubt and low-self esteem for those seeking help. Be careful to not use scolding or ridicule as a tool to influence someone to get the help they need.
- Do not tolerate behaviors and attitudes that would contradict the boundaries that you have set. Addiction produces various consequences that should not be avoided or minimized. The results of choices made may assist in recognizing the severity of the problem. Boundaries can be simply stated but must be set with the intention to follow through with the reward and/or consequences of the choices of our loved one.
- Do not feed guilt, blame and personal responsibility for the challenges faced by someone struggling with addiction. We become less effective in being solution focused when we take accountability for choices, conduct and consequences of the disease of addiction that are out of our control.
- Don’t expect results immediately after your petition for them to discontinue. Addiction, being a chronic and progressive illness can be compulsive and at times, overpowering comparable to the desire to get well. Be mindful not to set unrealistic expectations as it takes time for someone to connect with the appropriate treatment options for their individual needs.
More About Helping Loved Ones
- Seek support for yourself. Self-care is critical to remaining healthy and being able to live as an example of one who makes healthy decisions and understands the value of treating self well. This example of healthy living can serve as an encourager to those that struggle with substances, feeling an increase of hope from those around them.
- Get informed and stay educated. The most important thing that you can do for yourself is to not be the enemy of more information to learn the aspects of addictions, signs, symptoms, and ways to access help. Being informed empowers families to participate in the process of finding help but also serves as a powerful tool to preventing potentially fatal consequences.
- Encourage your loved one to make positive choices independently. It is important to foster autonomy that leaves our loved one feeling a sense of accomplishment that they have taken the necessary steps to get better.
- Do consider seeking an interventionist. Interventions can be a helpful tool to getting someone into treatment that is not at the stage of self-motivated change. Interventionist can assist with the planning and logistics of coordinating care as well as unbiased reasoning with the person who needs help.
- Do seek a consistent support system. The addiction cycle takes patience and lots and lots of love. It can be hard and emotionally wearing but we are to be a beacon of light for those who are afflicted. Know that there is a solution to every problem.
To learn more about addiction treatment options or family support reach out today.
Author: Shezaray Wyche Rozzell , MHS – Footprints to Recovery – Outreach Specialist