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

Meejon

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

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
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
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
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

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During adolescence, our teens are more likely to pay attention to the positives of a situation over the negatives. This can be a great thing. The courage that comes from this will help them try new things, explore their independence, and learn the things they need to learn to be happy, healthy adults. But it can also land them in bucketloads of trouble. 

Here’s the thing. Our teens don’t want to do the wrong thing and they don’t want to go behind our backs, but they also don’t want to be controlled by us, or have any sense that we might be stifling their way towards independence. The cold truth of it all is that if they want something badly enough, and if they feel as though we are intruding or that we are making arbitrary decisions just because we can, or that we don’t get how important something is to them, they have the will, the smarts and the means to do it with or without or approval. 

So what do we do? Of course we don’t want to say ‘yes’ to everything, so our job becomes one of influence over control. To keep them as safe as we can, rather than saying ‘no’ (which they might ignore anyway) we want to engage their prefrontal cortex (thinking brain) so they can be more considered in their decision making. 

Our teens are very capable of making good decisions, but because the rational, logical, thinking prefrontal cortex won’t be fully online until their 20s (closer to 30 in boys), we need to wake it up and bring it to the decision party whenever we can. 

Do this by first softening the landing:
‘I can see how important this is for you. You really want to be with your friends. I absolutely get that.’
Then, gently bring that thinking brain to the table:
‘It sounds as though there’s so much to love in this for you. I don’t want to get in your way but I need to know you’ve thought about the risks and planned for them. What are some things that could go wrong?’
Then, we really make the prefrontal cortex kick up a gear by engaging its problem solving capacities:
‘What’s the plan if that happens.’
Remember, during adolescence we switch from managers to consultants. Assume a leadership presence, but in a way that is warm, loving, and collaborative.♥️
Big feelings and big behaviour are a call for us to come closer. They won’t always feel like that, but they are. Not ‘closer’ in an intrusive ‘I need you to stop this’ way, but closer in a ‘I’ve got you, I can handle all of you’ kind of way - no judgement, no need for you to be different - I’m just going to make space for this feeling to find its way through. 

Our kids and teens are no different to us. When we have feelings that fill us to overloaded, the last thing we need is someone telling us that it’s not the way to behave, or to calm down, or that we’re unbearable when we’re like this. Nup. What we need, and what they need, is a safe place to find our out breath, to let the energy connected to that feeling move through us and out of us so we can rest. 
.
But how? First, don’t take big feelings personally. They aren’t a reflection on you, your parenting, or your child. Big feelings have wisdom contained in them about what’s needed more, or less, or what feels intolerable right now. Sometimes it might be as basic as a sleep or food. Maybe more power, influence, independence, or connection with you. Maybe there’s too much stress and it’s hitting their ceiling and ricocheting off their edges. Like all wisdom, it doesn’t always find a gentle way through. That’s okay, that will come. Our kids can’t learn to manage big feelings, or respect the wisdom embodied in those big feelings if they don’t have experience with big feelings. 
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We also need to make sure we are responding to them in the moment, not a fear or an inherited ‘should’ of our own. These are the messages we swallowed whole at some point - ‘happy kids should never get sad or angry’, ‘kids should always behave,’ ‘I should be able to protect my kids from feeling bad,’ ‘big feelings are bad feelings’, ‘bad behaviour means bad kids, which means bad parents.’ All these shoulds are feisty show ponies that assume more ‘rightness’ than they deserve. They are usually historic, and when we really examine them, they’re also irrelevant.
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Finally, try not to let the symptoms of big feelings disrupt the connection. Then, when calm comes, we will have the influence we need for the conversations that matter.
"Be patient. We don’t know what we want to do or who we want to be. That feels really bad sometimes. Just keep reminding us that it’s okay that we don’t have it all figured out yet, and maybe remind yourself sometimes too."
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 #parentingteens #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #neuronurtured #braindevelopment #adolescence  #neurodevelopment #parentingteens
Would you be more likely to take advice from someone who listened to you first, or someone who insisted they knew best and worked hard to convince you? Our teens are just like us. If we want them to consider our advice and be open to our influence, making sure they feel heard is so important. Being right doesn't count for much at all if we aren't being heard.
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Hear what they think, what they want, why they think they're right, and why it’s important to them. Sometimes we'll want to change our mind, and sometimes we'll want to stand firm. When they feel fully heard, it’s more likely that they’ll be able to trust that our decisions or advice are given fully informed and with all of their needs considered. And we all need that.
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 #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #adolescence 
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"We’re pretty sure that when you say no to something it’s because you don’t understand why it’s so important to us. Of course you’ll need to say 'no' sometimes, and if you do, let us know that you understand the importance of whatever it is we’re asking for. It will make your ‘no’ much easier to accept. We need to know that you get it. Listen to what we have to say and ask questions to understand, not to prove us wrong. We’re not trying to control you or manipulate you. Some things might not seem important to you but if we’re asking, they’re really important to us.❤️" 
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#neurodevelopment #neuronurtured #childdevelopment #parenting #positiveparenting #mindfulparenting

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