Our nation is in crisis. Drugs are ripping families apart and taking lives at alarming rates. In fact, drug overdoses were responsible for as many as 52,404 deaths in 2016.
Of course, we all are trying to avoid this kind of drama in our life. But if the tragedy strikes, it’s important that we acknowledge it and know how to cope with it and support our loved ones.
For every person struggling with addiction, there are multiple family members affected. With addiction rates as high as they are, the chances are good that addiction has touched your family in some way. Whether it’s your friend, that needs help, your aunt or your friend’s friend. It affects everyone around.
So, what do you do if someone you love is addicted? Here are some tips to help you through the process:
1. Learn about addiction
There are a lot of myths about addiction that can drive a wedge between you and your family member during this time. One of the biggest misconceptions is that the person chose this path. Although he may have chosen to use an addictive substance, he lost control as the substance altered his brain chemistry. Addiction is a disease. Addicts may do things that are completely out of character for the person because the drug is in the driver’s seat. Learn all you can about the nuances of addiction so that you may approach your loved one with some understanding.
2. Encourage your loved one to get help
The most difficult part about loving someone who is addicted is that it’s out of your immediate control. Unless she is a minor or a danger to herself or others, she must be the one to decide on getting help. Although this can be frustrating, you aren’t completely powerless. Here are a few things you can do:
- Find a rehab – Look for a rehab program that spans at least three months. It can be difficult to create the kind of lasting change that’s necessary in 30 days.
- Enlist help – You may stage a formal intervention or just have other family members and friends get involved. Whatever you do, don’t take this on alone.
- Stand by your loved one – Let your family member know that you are there for him now, will be there through recovery, and you will still be there when he makes it to the other side. Do not confuse this with enabling. Avoid putting yourself in situations where you’re making it easy for this person to use. Examples of enabling could include letting someone do drugs in your house, ignoring signs that she’s high or giving her money.
3. Join a support group
If addiction has taken over your family, it’s not just the addicted person who needs help. You need to understand that you’re not alone in this. Many people have been through the types of things you are experiencing, and it will help to connect through peer support groups. These are also great places to ask for advice when you need it.
4. Manage your expectations
Educating yourself about addiction will help to manage your expectation, but it’s also good to remind yourself to have patience. Addiction recovery is a long and difficult road with many ups and downs. Understand that setbacks don’t necessarily mean failure. Also, understand that emotions can run high for someone in recovery. If your recovering loved one seems “moody,” know that this should be a relatively temporary part of the recovery process.
5. Take time for yourself
Even when you’re not the one in recovery, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the process. Instead of letting your loved one’s recovery consume you, take time for yourself regularly. Schedule something daily, or weekly that is just for you. This should be a productive thing like exercise, massage, meditation or even just laughing with good friends. Ultimately, we all can only be responsible for our own lives. Your role in helping your loved one recover is a supportive one. Take measures to ensure it doesn’t take over your life.
Addiction is a disease that impacts the entire family. If someone you love is addicted and needs help, it’s never too early to start the conversation