Dont Focus On Guilt Or Shame
Someone struggling with addiction is usually already feeling deep guilt, shame and anger about their using. In addition, many feel judged by their family and friends, and will act defensively in response to any criticism that is levelled at them. Rather than helping, if the judgement or moralising does appear, they may turn to using to combat the feelings of stress that this gives them.
It is understandable however, as the person suffering may have already deeply hurt you, broken your trust or angered you. Where there is love left though, it is important to understand that feelings of shame, anger, and judgement can negatively affect your relationship with the person addicted and actively harm their chances of recovery. Research shows that shame is one of the least effective incentives to change, because it is isolating, painful and can make the addicted person believe they are unworthy of love or treatment.
What To Avoid When Talking To A Loved One About Addiction
When talking to a loved one about getting treatment for their addiction, here are some things to avoid:
- Preaching, lecturing, threatening or moralizing your loved one
- Emotional appeals that may increase the feelings of guilt and the compulsion to use drugs
- Lying or making excuses for their behavior
- Taking over their responsibilities doing this protects them from the consequences of their behavior
- Enabling their behavior by covering up the abuse or giving them money for drugs
- Arguing with your loved one when theyre using drugs during this time, your loved one wont be able to hold a rational conversation and likely wont be open to what you have to say
- Feeling guilty or responsible for their behavior its not your fault
If you feel that your loved one is abusing drugs, the best thing you can do is to encourage them to seek treatment for their addiction. Be loving and supportive, but also know that theyre likely going to make excuses for their behavior. Be firm in what you want, and keep encouraging them to get help. Although this isnt easy to do, its a critical first step in helping them achieve a healthy and happy life in recovery.
Learn Which Treatment Methods Are More Effective With Different People And Why
Medication can be helpful for treating underlying conditions like depression anxiety or ADHD.
CBT or therapy with the family can be helpful for those with social anxiety, the desire to interact in a healthy manner with others or those dealing with significant amounts of stress.
Each person has a different set of triggers and related factors for their gambling problem.
Different therapies can be effective once the causes are narrowed down.
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Dont Offer Unsolicited Advice
Leave advice surrounding your friends recovery to the experts. Unsolicited advice is patronizing and rude at best, unfounded and harmful at worst. To have reached this point in their recovery, your friend has received a lot of advice and implemented what was effective into their life. They know how and when to ask for advice. You need to know when not to give it.
Dont Try To Prevent The Addict From Making Or Learning From Mistakes
While in recovery, the moments of rock bottom is where the real healing begins. When they can overcome these moments, they start to feel their power.
If you intervene before theyre even tested, this is the role you must live with. This puts a great amount of pressure on you and its not fair to the addict either. They are responsible for themselves ultimately so have faith that theyre strong enough.
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Five Steps To A Sober Lifestyle
Dont: Enable Your Loved One
There can be a fine line between helping someone with an addiction and enabling them. Sometimes when we think were protecting a loved one from the consequences of their addiction, we are actually enabling them to continue with potentially destructive behavior.
For example, if youre trying to figure out how to help an alcoholic, keeping them from drinking and driving is helpful, since that could put them and others in danger. However, consistently offering to drive them home whenever they get too intoxicated is enabling their actions, because its setting up a formula in which you are constantly available to rescue them.
Studies show that people with addictions are more likely to proactively seek treatment when they are forced to face the consequences of their actions. So, if you want to know how to help someone with an addiction, allow them to make mistakes without the promise of your rescue.
Its important to set up boundaries and rules, both for your well-being and the well-being of your loved one and its important to enforce those rules and boundaries. This is the only part of Recovery in which tough love is beneficial, since its done for both you and your loved ones protection.
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Powerful Ways To Recover From Addiction
Most people suffer from addiction to illicit substances to find relief from their pain. In fact, the stories of drug abusers are nearly as tragic as the disease they have acquired. Now were hearing about kids in middle school buying and selling pain pills. Kids are overdosing on prescription pain medicines, which are often derivatives of the opiate drug heroin.
Drug treatment centers are reporting shortages of manpower. Federal and state governments are at a loss about what can be done, if anything. Importantly, some parents are apprehensive about sending their kids to school.
This article focuses on the individual response. That is, we offer suggestions on what people can do if they or someone they love is suffering from drug addiction or substance abuse.
Things Not To Say To Someone In Addiction Recovery
While you should still treat your loved one with the same overall care and respect you would treat any other close friend or family member, it is important to know there are certain topics and questions which one should avoid not only because it might be detrimental to their recovery but also because it is just rude to bring up in conversation with anyone with SUD.
This does not mean you need to walk on eggshells around someonejust find a different topic of conversation, as there are millions out there.
Heres a baseline list of questions and statements to avoid when conversing with your friend/family member with SUD:
- You were much more fun when you were using drugs.
- I dont know why you cant be around people who are usingdont be such a buzzkill.
- Youre being so sensitive right nowcut it out.
- Im not your therapist. Go whine to someone else.
- If you use drugs again, Im done with you.
- If you loved me, this wouldnt have happened in the first place.
- Are you even trying to get better?
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How To Help Someone Stop Drinking
Alcohol abuse and addiction doesnt just affect the person drinkingit affects their families and loved ones, too. Watching a family member struggle with a drinking problem can be as heartbreakingly painful as it is frustrating. But while you cant do the hard work of overcoming addiction for your loved one, your love and support can play a crucial part in their long-term recovery.
Talk to the person about their drinking. Express your concerns in a caring way and encourage your friend or family member to get help. Try to remain neutral and dont argue, lecture, accuse, or threaten.
Learn all you can about addiction. Research the kinds of treatment that are available and discuss these options with your friend or family member.
Take action. Consider staging a family meeting or an intervention, but dont put yourself in a dangerous situation. Offer your support along each step of the recovery journey.
Dont make excuses for your loved ones behavior. The person with the drinking problem needs to take responsibility for their actions. Dont lie or cover things up to protect someone from the consequences of their drinking.
Dont blame yourself. You arent to blame for your loved ones drinking problem and you cant make them change.
Support organizations, professional resources, and helplines
Most of these organizations have worldwide chapters:
Women for Sobriety Organization dedicated to helping women overcome addictions.
Dos And Donts When Your Loved One Is Struggling With Addiction
Finding out that your loved one is struggling with drugs or alcohol can be heartbreaking. It can leave you feeling angry, hurt, and confused. While it is normal to feel overwhelmed right now, it is important to realize that all hope is not lost. Recovery is possible, and you can help your loved one get there.
Youre most likely wondering what you can do to help? What to say? Where to start? And while there is no set guideline as to how to handle a loved ones addiction, there are certain dos and donts that you should know.
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Make Treatment Readily Available
After expressing the way you feel in a conversation with your loved one, they may be open to receiving professional treatment for their substance abuse issues. It is helpful to research and outline possible treatment options before you speak with them about their drinking. Gather resources from doctors, counselors, inpatient alcohol rehab, and outpatient centers. You may even choose to talk to a treatment provider in advance about how the admissions process works, whether theyll accept your insurance policy , and how to explain the program to your loved one.
Going to treatment can be scary and intimidating. If you can tell them about the accommodations, visitation, and amenities ahead of time, they may be more willing to go to treatment.8
American Addiction Centers accepts many private insurance policies, as well as some Medicaid policies. To instantly discover whether you or your loved ones addiction treatment program may be covered by your insurance at AAC, enter your insurance information below.
What To Do After Someone Relapses
Below, we offer some helpful guidance to assist you in the event a loved one suffers a relapse:
1. Support Them
One of the best ways you can be there for your friend or loved one is to support them. You shouldnt approach the situation in an angry way. Tell them that you still love and want to help them, and youre there to help them get back on their feet.
2. Be Empathetic
Try to build positive empathy with your friend or loved one. You can do this by truly trying to understand their behaviours, emotions and thoughts.
3. Do Not Enable their Behaviour
Without even knowing it, you might be enabling their behaviour by trying to be supportive. Dont allow them to make excuses, or make excuses for them. Dont take the blame for their relapse, or tell them that theyre allowed to fall off the wagon every now and again.
4. Try to Find out What The Trigger Was
Most addictions have triggers, so do relapses. There was likely a triggering event that prompted the relapse. So try to identify what happened, what went wrong and how you can avoid the same thing happening again in the future. It could be a person, a place or a situation. Whatever it was, work with them to make sure it doesnt happen again.
5. Make an Emergency Plan
The best way to help your friend or loved one when theyve relapsed is to be prepared and have a plan in place.
6. Dont Dismiss the Relapse
7. Be Strict & Firm
8. Understand that Promises Probably Wont Mean Promises
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Explain The Probable Consequences
Let the gambler know that there are some big potential issues that can arise if they continue feeding their habit.
Running out of money, legal issues and losing family due to the addiction are all key factors to mention.
It is also a good idea to remind them that gambling can be fun, but there comes a time when the fun has changed to serious addiction and problematic behavior.
What You Cant Do
When helping someone recover from addiction, you may want to do everything in your power to help. However, much of the recovery process is out of your control.
You cant understand everything. Unless youve been through recovery yourself, and even then, its impossible to understand exactly what your loved one is going through emotionally and physically.Avoid phrases like, I know how you feel. Instead, ask questions to better understand, and know that you can support your loved one without understanding exactly how he or she feels.
You cant force or guilt someone into quitting. The first step of recovery is deciding to make a change, and only the addict can make that decision. While encouragement and support can help, you cant force an addict to want to recover. Dont put that burden on yourself.
You cant fix an addiction overnight. Most recovery programs range from 28 to 90 days. However, full recovery lasts much longer. Simply going to rehab, or deciding to quit, does not mean the addiction will go away immediately. Avoid putting a time-frame on recovery or pressuring your loved one to speed up the process. Instead, celebrate the progress he or she has made, and confirm youll be there every step of the way.
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Becoming Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
More broadly speaking, I believe that recovering individuals need to learn to feel comfortable with being uncomfortable. They often assume that non-addicts dont have the same problems or experience the same negative emotions. Therefore, they feel it is defensible or necessary to escape their negative feelings. The cognitive challenge is to indicate that negative feelings are not signs of failure, but a normal part of life and opportunities for growth. Helping clients feel comfortable with being uncomfortable can reduce their need to escape into addiction.
Principle : Love Is Not To Be Held Hostage Or Used As A Threat
Having an addict in your life is not going to be peaches and cream. There wont be montages with uplifting 80s songs in the background to gloss over the grueling, extensive process of convincing and encouraging the person to seek and fulfill treatment, nor will there be a clear happy ending to signal that the coast is clear, and addiction is officially out of everyones lives. It just doesnt work that way, unfortunately. There will be fights, bitter words said, and ugly times. Your love for this person will most definitely be tested.
That being said, it is not a good idea to use your love as a tactical way of getting the person to quit their substance abuse. Saying things like if you loved me, youd quit is the sort of manipulative behavior that almost always backfireson you. Using your love as a threat will only translate as lost love to the addict, who might be triggered into doing desperate and rash retaliation, such as running away or purposefully overdosing. Instead, convey your concerns with your love. Continue to remind them that you are willing to be their recovery support, that they are not alone, and that you love them enough to see them live. Use love as a comforting tool, not a weapon.
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Ongoing Support After Treatment
While you are not responsible for another persons recovery, there are things that you can do to support their efforts to get better. For example, with the permission of your loved one, you can accompany them to support groups or refrain from keeping alcohol in your house so they wont be tempted to start drinking again. You can also suggest engaging in enjoyable hobbies or activities together that do not involve drinking.12
Al-Anon meetings are great resources for you and other loved ones to learn how to best support your loved one with an alcohol abuse issue. Al-Anon meetings can also coach you on how to set healthy boundaries. Therapy, either as a family, by yourself, or both, can also help you navigate recovery with your loved one.
Just remember that if your loved one relapses, try not to panic. Instead, do your best to help them return to treatment quickly so theyll get back on track to long-term recovery. You may choose to help them find long-term treatment or utilize another professional resource. And, most of all, be sure to take the necessary steps to care for yourself and your mental health.
Helping someone with an alcohol abuse problem may be a challenge, but it is possible. More and more resources are becoming available to those struggling with substance abuse problems. The future of addiction recovery is becoming increasingly brighter.