When a loved one becomes addicted to a dangerous substance, regardless of whether it is illicit, the whole family must carry the burden. From children and marriage to finances, trust and inner family relationships, substance abuse affects all areas of the user’s life. Of these areas, perhaps none is affected more than family relationships. In this entry, we will offer up coping tips to those with addicted loved ones.
- Get to know the addiction – Drug and alcohol abuse alters the nervous system dramatically. As a result, the addiction must be viewed as a chronic disease, not a choice. Though the initial experimentation may have been a decision, once the body has become physically dependent, the user loses all choice in the matter; viewing the substance as necessary for comfort and survival. This understanding can help families view the addict in a new light, while taking steps to ensure that proper treatment is obtained.
- Set your boundaries – Family members will often attempt to help the addict by way of financial and emotional means. However, it is important to understand which actions address the issue, and which ones escalate it. Chronically addicted individuals will often use friends and family members to their advantage in an effort to maintain the addiction. Setting boundaries in this area will provide protection to both you and the addict alike.
- Do not enable – Enabling refers to any behavior or action that supports the addiction, such as monetary aid, hiding the addiction from authorities, housing, making excuses or being in denial.
- Locate and attend a family support group – Al-Anon or Nar-Anon that provides support to family members struggling with an addicted loved one can be very helpful. These organizations can offer valuable insight, information and a forum to discuss concerns and experiences with other individuals dealing with similar circumstances.
- Consider individual or family therapy – There are a number of psychologists who specialize in helping those with drug addicted loved ones. Dealing with an addicted loved one can cause a great deal of confusion and pain. Communicating your feelings in individual or group sessions with a licensed professional provides you the opportunity to express your sadness, anger and worry in a safe and supportive environment.
- Confront the addict – Though it may be scary, it is a necessary step on the road to recovery for both you and the addict alike. Be careful to voice concern and care, not blame, or this may further withdraw the addict. If your loved one appears unresponsive to the idea of treatment, an intervention may be worth considering.
Looking for alcohol or drug abuse help? Contact Stepping Stones (803) 386-8077 to address your questions, concerns and worry. You can count on Stepping Stones to have your loved one on the fast track to sobriety in no time. Call now!