If someone close to you has developed an unhealthy relationship with drugs and alcohol, it can be challenging to know how to handle it. You don’t want to see your loved one grow increasingly distant day by day as their addiction worsens, driving a wedge between you. How can you love someone you barely recognize anymore? Here are some tips for helping an addicted loved one.
Guilt and addiction go hand in hand. The person you care about might have started using drugs and alcohol to mute complex emotions like shame – then feel even more guilty when they realize they can’t quit using these substances on their own.
Knowing that your loved one is already wrestling with these feelings, the last thing you should want to do is add to his burdens. Avoid embarrassing him by talking about his addiction as a weakness or bringing up examples of things he’s done or said under the influence. Instead, be empathetic about what he’s going through. Remember, you can accept your loved one even if you don’t approve of his behavior or decisions.
Loving an addicted person can be heartbreaking. However, it’s possible to love someone in active addiction without enabling or encouraging their drinking or drug use. Boundaries are the foundation of healthy relationships. You’re perfectly within your rights to communicate the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse, but be ready to follow through on them if your loved one oversteps that line.
Take Care of Yourself
You might neglect to practice self-care when you’re too worried or heartsick about your loved one. But you can’t be an effective supporter if you are not looking after your needs. Be sure to set aside time for healthy activities such as exercise, meditation, gardening and cooking. If you feel overwhelmed, seek the help of a qualified therapist.
Separate the Person From Their Illness
Falling into the clutches of addiction doesn’t make someone a bad person. Like a diabetic or someone with cancer, he has a chronic disease, and you should view him through that lens. Try to remember what your loved one was like before the substance use issues took hold. Understand he’s still that person – and he needs your help to find the right path again. Focus on learning as much as you can about the illness of addiction so you can be as supportive as possible.
Set a Good Example
People living with active addiction can lose sight of how to manage daily ups and downs without relying on alcohol and drugs. You can model beneficial behavior by living a substance-free life and showing your loved one how enjoyable sobriety can be. Find fun activities and new hobbies you can do together that don’t involve substance use.
Don’t Give Up
If someone you care about depends on drugs or alcohol to feel “normal,” he is probably in a dark place and struggling to find his way out. You can help by staying optimistic and encouraging your loved one to seek men’s-only treatment that will address the underlying reasons behind substance abuse and get him to pursue physical, mental and emotional health.
The journey toward recovery isn’t easy, but with your love and compassion, he can make a fresh start. Contact us at Spearhead Lodge when you’re ready to learn more about our evidence-based approach to addiction treatment for young men.