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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.