When A Loved One is Struggling with an Addiction – 6 Steps To Take

When a Loved One Has An Addiction - 6 Steps to Take

If your loved one is fighting addiction or even struggling with mental illness and an addiction, you may be wondering how you can help. You don’t want to become an enabler, as this will only make the addiction worse. Yet it’s an equally scary feeling to cut off your loved one until they get clean. So what can you do?

When a loved one has an addiction.

  1. Get educated.

    Addiction is a disease. If you found out that your loved one had an illness, you would research it. Do the same for addiction. Read about the signs and symptoms of substance abuse, the reasons why it occurs and how to be an active support person.

  2. Observe their behavior.

    Take a few days to observe the behavior of your loved one. It’s a good idea to have clear examples of the types of behavior that concern you. Share this information with other key family members and determine how to approach the situation.

  3. Talk to a professional

    Speak with a substance abuse specialist, guidance counselor, mental health expert or other helpful professional. This person can guide you in the right direction. They may recommend staging an intervention. They can also help with developing a safety plan if you feel that your loved one could be a threat.

  4. Line up a treatment center.

    Depending on the situation, your loved one may need professional intervention to change their ways. Before staging an intervention, have a treatment center picked out. You don’t want any delays between the intervention and treatment, otherwise your loved one may try to manipulate you or change their mind. Give them an ultimatum: It’s treatment or being cut off from the family, for example. Make sure you are specific and clear with the ultimatum. I.e.: If they don’t accept treatment then they are going to be cut off financially, from seeing or spending time with family members or their children, no more “crashing” or housing at family members’ homes, etc.

  5. Attend family support groups.

    Just as your loved one will require therapy to understand their harmful behaviors and negative patterns of thinking, you need therapy to deal with your emotions. Addiction takes a toll on the family unit, so deal with your feelings head on. Find support groups in your area through Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.

  6. Be active in their recovery.

    Continue to be an active support person in your loved one’s recovery. You can support them without supporting their habit. Attend family therapy sessions, communicate with their doctors and counselors and support their aftercare plan when they return from treatment.

It’s important to remember that you cannot change your loved one’s behavior. The only behavior you can change is your own.

Learn more about what to do if your loved one is suffering from both a mental illness and addiction by reading this blog.

Please take the time and share this with anyone you know who has a loved one who is struggling with addiction. Now is the time – Please don’t wait.


About the Author

This post first appeared on the website of The Dunes East Hampton Rehab Center and is reprinted here with full permission. The author wishes to remain anonymous.

7 Comments

Mary

Hi what about hearing from a person who has an addiction? I agree with a lot that’s already been said but am interested in what a person with an addiction has to say.

Reply
Jacques

I don’t know what to say, especially when they have been caught up for years. If they don’t want to change, its tough.

Reply
Martha-M

My 24 yr old grandson had been clean for years; has started back using; making unwise choices. I go to Naranon group. My 11yr old grandaughter, his sister asks for help understanding. Our family doesn’t talk about this together. I ask my daughter questions; feels she is upset with me. I’ve reached out to my addict; sometimes he comments but we don’t see each other. I don’t see their family much. They are busy. Time passes; it feels we are further apart.

Reply
Barbara Couturier

They accused me of being addicted to my Oxy or Percocet.
I stopped taking them.
I took Ambien, my Daughter’s Husband worked nights and would come home and play with his dogs in the kitchen above my head.
Their autistic boy sweet sweet Memphis, would have bad dreams, and sit at the bottom of the stairs and cry.

I heard him they did not.

The kids had no bedtimes, no rituals, no books, no bedtime stories. Just horrible tv games about killing that the parents played.

When they ask me to leave “I want you out of here yesterday” my bank account was $57,164.66 lighter.
That was four years ago, I have not been allowed to see my Grandkids since

Reply
Hey Sigmund

Barbara this is such an awful thing for you to go through. I know how much you are struggling, and it’s completely understandable given the loss of the relationship with your daughter and your grandchildren. I imagine you would be such a loving and committed grandmother. I hope that one day your grandchildren are able to know how much you love and miss them. They deserve that, and so do you.

Reply
Meejon

So many questions answered,thank you,I dont even know how I got to this sight.

Reply

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Adolescence is all about the transition from childhood to adulthood. It can be a confusing time for everyone - not just for our teens but also for the adults who love them. 

Too often, the line between childhood and adulthood can be a blurry one. The expectations of adulthood can come charging at them, but without the freedoms, confidence, or capabilities that adulthood brings. They can feel with such depth and intensity, but without the adult wisdom or experience to make sense of those feelings. 

They’ll be okay, but it might feel wobbly for a while. In the meantime they will look to us for signs of safety and certainty. This doesn’t mean certainty that everything will always be okay - it won’t be - but certainty that they’ll get through, certainty that they are extraordinary, and needed, and that their will be a space and a place in the world that only they can fill.

We might not always feel that certainty. Some days we might ache, and wish we could make their world feel softer for a while. In those times, it will be less about what you do and more about who you are - being the one who can be with them without needing them to be different, the one who can handle any of their hurts or heartaches with gentle, certain hands, the one who can block out the world for a while by letting them rest in our care without needing them to be, or do, or give anything back in return.♥️
For our children, we start building the foundations for adolescence in their earliest years - the relationship we’ll have with them, who they are going to be, how they are going to be. One of the things we’ll want to build is their capacity to know their own minds and be brave enough to use it. This isn’t easy, even for adults, so the more practice we give them, the more they’ll be able to access their strong, brave, beautiful minds when they need to - when we aren’t there.

This means letting them have a say when we can, asking their opinions, and letting them disagree.

When kids and teens argue, they’re communicating. We need to listen, but the need won’t always be obvious. When littles argue because it’s spaghetti for dinner and ‘I hate spaghetti so much’ (even though last week and the 5 years before last week, spaghetti was their favourite), they might be expressing a need for sleep, power and influence, or independence. All are valid. When your teen argues because they want to do something you’ve said no to, the need might be to preserve their felt sense of inclusion with their tribe, or independence from you. Again, all valid. 

Of course, a valid need doesn’t mean it will always be met. Sometimes our needs might need to take priority to theirs, such as our need to keep them safe, or for them to learn that they can still be okay if everything doesn’t go their way, or that sometimes people will have conflicting needs that need to take priority. What’s important is letting them know we hear them and we get it.

It’s going to take time for kids to learn how to argue and express themselves respectfully. In the meantime, the words might be clumsy, loud, angry. This is when we need to hold on to ourselves, meet them where they are, let them know we hear them, and step into our leadership presence. We might give them what they need because it makes sense and because there isn’t enough reason not to. Sometimes, after giving them space to be heard we’ll need to stand our ground. Other times we might solve the problem collaboratively: This is what you want. This is what I want. Let’s talk about how we can we both get what we need.♥️
Anxiety will always tilt our focus to the risks, often at the expense of the very real rewards. It does this to keep us safe. We’re more likely to run into trouble if we miss the potential risks than if we miss the potential gains. 

This means that anxiety will swell just as much in reaction to a real life-threat, as it will to the things that might cause heartache (feels awful, but not life-threatening), but which will more likely come with great rewards. Wholehearted living means actively shifting our awareness to what we have to gain by taking a safe risk. 

Sometimes staying safe will be the exactly right thing to do, but sometimes we need to fight for that important or meaningful thing by hushing the noise of anxiety and moving bravely forward. 

When children or teens are on the edge of brave, but anxiety is pushing them back, ask, ‘But what would it be like if you could?’ ♥️

#parenting #parent #mindfulparenting #childanxiety #positiveparenting #heywarrior #heyawesome
Except I don’t do hungry me or tired me or intolerant me, as, you know … intolerably. Most of the time. Sometimes.
Growth doesn’t always announce itself in ways that feel safe or invited. Often, it can leave us exhausted and confused and with dirt in our pores from the fury of the battle. It is this way for all of us, our children too. 

The truth of it all is that we are all born with a profound and immense capacity to rise through challenges, changes and heartache. There is something else we are born with too, and it is the capacity to add softness, strength, and safety for each other when the movement towards growth feels too big. Not always by finding the answer, but by being it - just by being - safe, warm, vulnerable, real. As it turns out, sometimes, this is the richest source of growth for all of us.

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