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How to Cope with a Loved One's Addictions

>> Jun 3, 2015



Most of us, at some point or another, will be affected by substance abuse or addiction. Whether it's our own struggle with addictive substances, or that of a friend or loved one, dealing with addiction is never easy. Watching a close friend or family member face the perils of addiction can be especially challenging, as it often leads to feelings of anger, helplessness and guilt. 

However, loving and supporting a loved one throughout addiction and the recovery process doesn't have to be so difficult. Keep reading to find out how. 
 
image:pixshark.com
Getting a Loved One into Treatment
For a loved one struggling with addiction, treatment can mean the difference between life and death. If you spot the signs of addiction in a friend or loved one, take the following steps in suggesting treatment:

  • Arm yourself with information. Before encouraging a loved one to seek treatment, gather information that may help them in their decision to enter recovery. You could, for example, research different rehab facilities so that your loved one has some options.
  • Don't plan an ambush. While interventions are often necessary, a one-on-one approach can be just as effective. An ambush can be overwhelming for everyone involved, and may lead to hostility and defensiveness. If other friends or family members want to help, have them do so on their own time or in other ways. 
  • Prepare yourself, emotionally. Addiction is a touchy subject, and you should prepare yourself for denial, anger, resentment and other emotional reactions. Remember to stay calm, don't take it personally, and know that you're doing the right thing. 
  • Show your support. Remind your friend or family member of your constant love and support. Offer to help them in any way possible while they seek life-saving treatment for substance abuse and addiction. For example, you could offer to help with childcare, housework, etc. 

Supporting a Loved One through the Treatment Process
If your loved one decides to get professional help, know that your continued support is crucial to the recovery process. You should also know that, while the decision to seek treatment is the best possible outcome, showing your love and support throughout the recovery process won't always be easy. Thankfully, tips like the following can help:

  • Know what to expect. Addiction treatment, especially its early stages, can be overwhelming for patients and their loved ones, alike. Detox, for example, is a painful process, and is often associated with withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings for drugs or alcohol. Understandably, seeing a friend or family member go through this stage of recovery can be incredibly difficult, and can bring about feelings of intense empathy guilt. However, remember that detox is essential to recovery, and that it typically lasts only a short time. Also, you should prepare yourself for hurdles in the later stages of treatment, including those that deal with the psychological and emotional aspects of addiction.
  • Look into family counseling. Addiction can have an enormous impact on familial bonds and family dynamics. Factors like co-dependence, manipulation, enabling and deep-seated emotional issues often come into play, and objective, professional input can be invaluable to your family's recovery.
  • Take care of yourself. Supporting a loved one through addiction treatment can be incredibly difficult; in some cases, it can even be debilitating. However, self-care methods can help. Be sure to take time for yourself, get plenty of sleep and see to your own commitments and responsibilities. If you're feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious, seek one-on-one counseling so that you can work through your own issues, and better help your family and loved ones. 

Addiction doesn't just affect the addict. If someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, you know the impact this disease can have on family members and loved ones. Thankfully, though, the tips listed here can help you show your love and support, while also taking care of yourself and your family. 

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