Life is not easy for an addict, and it is not easy for those who love that addict, either. If you have a loved one who is an addict, then it can be difficult to figure out what you should do. It is important to remember that unless you are a professional addiction counselor, there is only so much you really can do regarding addiction help. But since you do care for your family member and there is a strong bond between the two of you, there are things you can do to help your family member and the rest of the family. The key is to make sure that the addict gets the help they need as soon as possible. But there are also several ways that family members of addicts can help their loved one to heal and help the family as well.
An addict is a person who loses control over their ability to make rational decisions when faced with their particular addiction. Addiction is a substance or activity that creates a sense of euphoria that an addict craves always. An addict can be addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography, committing theft, or any number of other substances or activities. Physical addiction occurs when the lack of a substance or activity causes an adverse physical reaction. For example, drug addicts often experience nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms when they are without their particular drug of choice. Mental addiction occurs when the addict simply cannot quit a substance or activity. There are no physical reactions to ceasing an addictive substance or activity, but there is often anxiety and mental anguish that occurs at a very high level.
The most difficult thing that a family member has to do for an addict is to stop enabling their addiction. You need to set boundaries that dictate what you are willing to do and how much you can offer in the way of resources and then stand by those boundaries. Giving an addict money without knowing where it will be spent is enabling the addict and not helping them. If you agree to get a family member back on their feet, then offer to make direct payments for the things they need instead of giving them money. You need to show strong love and support and insist that the addict get help as soon as possible.
It is important to remember that you cannot help your family member if you are not taking care of yourself. Do not allow your family member’s addiction to bring your life down. Work on your health and habits to make sure that you feel good about yourself and you can be there for your family member when you are needed. You can also rally other family members to lend support and take the pressure of being the only responsible family member off of your shoulders.
Unless you are a professional counselor, then you cannot help an addict. You cannot shame an addict into recovery, and yelling at an addict is not going to accomplish anything positive. Do not allow an addict to manipulate you into giving them the things they need to perpetuate their addiction. Remember your boundaries and be prepared to deny many of the requests the addict makes. It can feel emotionally painful at first, but a firm hand is one of the only real methods you have available to help your family member get the help they need.
It can be difficult to watch a family member go through an addiction. If you want to help your family member to fight their addiction, then you need to get your family member to an addiction expert. In many instances, the family member will insist that they are not battling addiction and refuse to get help. Intervention counselors are trained professionals who can step in, with the assistance of the family, and help the addict to see the damage they are doing to themselves and their family. The ultimate goal of an intervention counselor is to get the addict to a facility that can provide the necessary treatment to beat the addiction.
Addiction can happen to anyone and at any time. It can occur when life seems to be going great, and it can happen when life throws challenges at us. Addiction does not just affect the addict; it also affects the addict’s family as well. With the love and support of a strong family unit, an addict can recover from their issues and get back to becoming a productive person again.
Here are some resources to help with understanding addiction:
What is Addiction?
Understanding Addiction: How Addiction Hijacks the Brain