How to Help an Addicted Friend or Loved One

posts by James Robinson

Date(s) - 08/30/2020 - 08/31/2020
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306 Albany, Brooklyn, New York 11213


Watching a loved one struggling with a substance use disorder is one of the hardest things to go through. On the one hand, you feel like they have so many reasons they should want to quit and all they need to do is make that decision. However, on the other hand, you can see that they have little to no control over their own lives. Addiction is an extremely complex disease that is often difficult for loved ones to understand or cope with if they aren’t also in recovery. It is nearly impossible to understand the grip chemicals can have over your mind and body unless you’ve experienced it.


Be supportive without enabling your loved one.

Enabling addicts includes any actions that will prevent them from hitting their rock bottom. This may consist of giving them money, buying them drugs or alcohol, paying their bills so they have money to buy drugs, bailing them out when they get in trouble, covering for them so they can avoid trouble. You may feel that you are acting out of love, but letting them fall is loving them. Often, when people are suffering, they will say things to make you feel guilty and to manipulate you into doing what they want you to do. It is during those times that it is more important than ever to stay strong and maintain healthy boundaries.

Be aware of codependent behaviors.

Codependency is when you get so wrapped up in what is happening with your addicted loved one, that you cease to exist independently of them. Your emotions and actions are all based on how they are doing. Instead of acting, your entire life is reduced to reacting to what they are doing. Codependent behaviors are unhealthy for you and your loved ones, and often involve a great deal of enabling because you cannot handle your loved one being mad or upset.


Know what resources are available.

You cannot force your loved one to get help. However, when they come to you and ask for help, you can be prepared with resources for them. The resources may include phone numbers for detox and treatment centers they may be able to go to or information about local meetings and contact information for other people in recovery. You can look into what outpatient treatment options are around you. For example, the Solution Based Treatment and Detox Center is located in California and offers every level of recovery care from medical detox to residential treatment to sober living. Your loved one can go to them and stay as long as they need to at different levels of care until they feel strong enough to leave.

Let your loved one take the lead in their recovery plan.

You may think that you know exactly what your loved one needs, but the fact of the matter is if they do not take part in their recovery plan, they likely won’t follow it. If you live in Ohio and your loved one wants to go to drug rehab Southern California, you can’t make them stay in Ohio because you think it is best to stay close. Sometimes a geographic change helps individuals get their feet on solid ground and clear their minds before they can safely return to their old stomping grounds.

Take care of yourself.

You are no help to your loved one if you have run yourself down mentally, emotionally, and physically trying to take care of them. You need to take care of yourself on all levels, which includes getting support from others who have loved ones struggling with addiction. There is a wide range of support groups out there. Getting to know other people that know what you are going through will help you to feel stable and know that you are not alone and you are not losing your mind.