8 Ways To Help Your Loved One Battling Addiction, Without Hurting Yourself
I am a person in long-term recovery. My sobriety date is April 28, 2014. My wife Shay (also recovered from addiction) and I have dedicated our lives to helping other addicts, alcoholics, and family members of those suffering. Watching your loved one destroy themselves with drugs or alcohol is a nightmare, and it’s increasingly becoming more common. Here are some tips on how to support your loved one battling addiction, without hurting yourself.
1. Do not enable them
If they’re strung out, they will usually try to manipulate you for money or financial gain in some way, shape, or form. Do not fall for it, or you’ll be aiding in their destruction.
2. Encourage them to seek professional help
A lot of addicts and alcoholics have underlying mental health problems or trauma and need to seek outside therapy to identify and treat those issues.
3. Motivate them to find a deeper meaning
There’s nothing more fulfilling than a life including some sort of spiritual discipline, no matter in what form. It’s of extreme importance in recovery to transform the mind and spirit. Almost everyone in long-term recovery follows the dictates of some sort of spiritual walk. Never be shy on encouraging this matter. It may be lifesaving for your person.
4. Suggest detox and/or treatment
People rarely get sober on their own. You’ll constantly hear people saying, ‘I got this’ or ‘I’ll do this from home.’ It rarely works and can be fatal depending on the substance they’re coming off. Always push them towards a medical detox.
5. Inspire them to join a fellowship
They say the exact opposite of addiction is connection, meaning addicts and alcoholics have to feel a part of something in order to start the healing process. This is where fellowshipping with like-minded people is vital. Suggest they seek out men and women who have walked in their shoes and know their struggles. This method of recovery has worked for over 85 years, especially in 12-step fellowships.
6. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries
Unconditional love doesn’t mean unconditional acceptance of bad behavior. Do not help them sustain their dysfunction. Remember, you don’t have the power to get them clean or sober; if you did, you would’ve cleaned them up a long time ago.
7. Never rob them of their consequences
If they get caught stealing or committing crime to feed their addiction, do not bail them out of jail unless they agree to treatment. Treatment is a consequence of their actions. Never take this from them. Eventually they’ll get sick of ending up in jail or rehab and do whatever it takes to stay sober, God willing.
8. Protect your sanity
Remember, you can’t save them, no matter how hard you try. You will literally drive yourself insane trying to. This can be a dangerous trap for family members. They often suffer the most because they are not drinking or getting high to escape their reality. They’re face the turmoil of addiction headfirst, every day and every night. Sitting by the phone. Waiting for ‘that phone call.’ It’s brutal and unfair. But you must protect your sanity and you must seek help for yourself as well. There are family groups that can help you overcome your fears and the burden of being a family member of someone who is suffering from addiction/alcoholism. It’s not easy to let go, but sometimes it’s the best thing you can do for the person who is strung out. Stop cushioning their fall. Why would they ever seek help if you’re always going to be their safety net? They won’t.
This is just the tip of the iceberg and should help you get started. I urge you to seek professional help and talk to someone in person about your issues. I’m always available to chat, so feel free to message my page at anytime. We spend our lives helping people just like you. It’s not always easy, but it sure is worth it. I wish you all the best of luck and I pray each and every one of you find the peace you deserve.
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Rich Walters. You can follow his journey on Facebook and Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
Read more about Rich and Shay’s journey to sobriety:
Read more about addiction:
‘This is addiction. This is ‘just one more time.’ ‘Just a little hit.’ It’s a 3 a.m. phone call we knew was coming, but prayed never would.’: Family mourns loved one lost to addiction, ‘drugs don’t love you, your friends and family do’
‘Mom, can you please come get me? I don’t know where I am. Please help me.’ The desperation in his voice nearly killed me.’: Mom says ‘I love you to the moon and back’ to son missing from opioid addiction
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