Addiction affects real people; mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.
The most important way to help an addicted family member is to learn how this condition affects people and to seek professional help. Recovery is a journey, and all journeys have steps.
Here are some steps you can take to help your loved one:
- Learn about the types of addiction: Know the warning signs of addiction so the condition does not take you by surprise. Addiction is often hard to spot, especially in its initial stages. Keep an eye out for any sudden changes in behavior, such as neglecting personal hygiene or staying out late. Other symptoms can be extreme irritability, anger or even violence in someone who is normally gentle. If you do not know the symptoms of addiction, then you may overlook one that is forming right under your nose.
- Let the addicted family member experience consequences of addiction: When you discover that a loved one suffers from addiction, it is unlikely for your love to transform her. To change, addicts must want to get clean by their own free will. Rescuing someone from the consequences of drug abuse means more consequences must occur before she desires recovery.
- Do not enable addiction: Enabling means colluding with the user or covering up drug abuse. It is important that users suffer the consequences of addiction, so do not lie to your loved one’s employers about he cannot come into work, do not make excuses to creditors and do not pay off his bills. If a curfew is in place or his responsibilities need attention, then do not allow the addict to break the rules. Instead, insist on the required behavior and communicate honestly and openly. Do not tell him only what he does wrong, but encourage and praise him for what he is doing well.
- Do not allow yourself to be abused: Family members of addicts may endure abuse, especially emotionally, if addicts act irrationally with extreme highs and lows. Physical and even sexual abuse can also occur. If you are in danger, call the authorities, because addiction is not an excuse to endure pain.
- Seek professional help: If you or a family member is beaten down by unhealthy behavior, or if any aspects of your own life are in jeopardy—such as your employment, housing, ability to pay bills or etc.—then seek professional help immediately.
If you or a family member struggles with addiction, call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline (1-877-345-3370), and our admissions coordinators will help you move forward in recovery.