If you have a friend or relative who is struggling with a substance use disorder, whether it is alcohol, recreational drugs, or illicit drugs, it can be one of the most challenging situations to witness. Addiction can be crumbling, and when you are sitting in the backseat watching it unfold with your loved one, it is a normal reaction to want to help. But how can you help? Many individuals are scared to help, may not know how to help, or maybe causing more harm than good when they are trying to help. While each situation is unique, and everyone is fighting their own battle, below are some general tips on how to help your loved one who is struggling with an addiction.
The relationship between you and your loved one can be severed if trust is not at the foundation. Therefore it is essential to take action to build and strengthen trust in the relationship. Trust requires honesty, compassion, empathy, boundaries, and being able to communicate regardless of having different opinions or perspectives. Avoid negative interactions such as nagging, name-calling, criticizing, and judging, and instead focus on the positive ways to help your loved one seek treatment.
Do not enable
An enabler is defined as “an individual who encourages negative or self-destructive behaviors.”
Unfortunately, many family members and friends act as enablers to their loved ones who are struggling with a substance use disorder. We often are scared to upset our loved ones and want to support them, but instead of being honest with them, we try to rescue them from their addictive behaviors. We often will lend them money, bail them out of jail, make excuses for them and hold their hand when they are in trouble. Even if we are doing these things out of compassion and empathy, this is more hurtful than helpful and can lead to worsening behaviors in the future. Instead of enabling our loved ones, we should hold them accountable, allow them to experience the consequences associated with their addiction, and try our best to help them seek professional help.
Mental health and substance use disorders are not simple. They are complicated disorders with difficult consequences that can potentially wreak havoc. However, with the proper education and treatment, there is hope for a full recovery and a successful future. As a family member or friend to your loved one, it is crucial to educate yourself about the addiction process so you can have a better understanding and knowledge about your loved one’s disorder and journey to recovery.
Practice compassion and empathy
Addiction is difficult. The path to recovery is challenging, and sometimes relapse can be devastating. Nobody is to blame, but often times we find ourselves pointing fingers, arguing, and destroying relationships because of the underlying addiction. During these times, it is crucial to take a step back, be kind, offer help, listen and practice compassion and empathy towards your loved one.
Every substance use and mental health disorder will require professional treatment at some point in the course of the disease. Seeking treatment earlier rather than later can reduce harmful consequences and can potentially lead to faster recovery. It is essential to encourage your loved ones to seek treatment and to help them find a treatment center that best fits their needs and personality. The relationship between the treatment team and your loved one is one of the most critical factors associated with recovery.
In the chaos of addiction, boundaries are essential to endure your well-being and to encourage your loved one to seek treatment. When individuals are deep in the perils of their addiction, they often portray harmful behaviors and can cross boundaries that can potentially affect your own mental well-being and personal life. Whether it is prohibiting unethical behaviors such as lying, stealing, and cheating or not allowing them to use alcohol or drugs in your home, setting boundaries is beneficial to both you and your loved one.
Helping and supporting your loved one during this time can take a toll on your physical and mental health. You may find yourself feeling sad, exhausted, and overwhelmed. As a result, this can affect both your personal and professional life. It is important to take time for yourself in order to re-focus and re-center. Remember to spend quality time with your family, practice healthy sleep and dietary habits and engage in activities that bring you joy. If you want to be a strong support system for your loved one, you must first take care of yourself.
AKUA Mind and Body treatment
AKUA Mind and Body is a full-service treatment program that offers a wide range of “east meets west” treatment modalities for many different populations struggling with mental health and substance use disorders. AKUA makes your recovery a priority. AKUA Mind and Body treats co-occurring disorders and works diligently with each client and their family to ensure that treatment is specifically tailored to their needs and not just their disorder.
AKUA Mind and Body offers detoxification, intensive treatment programs, and outpatient treatment programs. AKUA Mind and Body uses a blend of holistic approaches combined with evidence-based treatment to help individuals who have been affected by substance use and mental health disorders recognize their underlying triggers and develop healthy coping skills. Regardless of where you are in your recovery process, AKUA Mind and Body can help.