Addiction can be as crippling and painful for family and friends as it is for the addict. While many loved ones want to do all they can to help addicts, they can do so at a detriment to themselves.
Dealing with addicts is tough and a family support group needs to know when to step in and when to step back.
The following tips are designed to provide help and perspective for managing addiction support.
Be prepared for the worse.
This has to be the first step when dealing with an addict. If you don’t fully appreciate the seriousness of the condition and the consequences that may lie ahead, you cannot help them to break free and seek help.
Drug addiction can result in poor health, incarceration, or even, death. If you appreciate that the addiction could kill your loved one, that will help you drive them forward.
You also need to realize that neither their life or yourself will be the same and you both need to move on. There is a positive way to do this and a negative way.
Avoid negative enabling.
As the friend or relative of an addict, you have probably heard the term enabler more than you care to admit. Perhaps you have been accused of being one of maybe you are afraid of turning into one.
A negative enabler is someone that, perhaps with the best of intentions, is allowing the addict to continue with their addiction and destructive lifestyle. This could mean giving them money that they then spend on drugs or offering other “support” that does not allow to deal with the issue.
Paying for services and help directly, rather than giving money to the addict, can help to break this cycle.
It can all come down to saying no, something that becomes more difficult as addicts get in deeper trouble and become more manipulative, but you need to do so for your own sake as well as theirs.
Understand the difference between negative and positive enabling.
Not all forms of enabling are bad and there are ways that you can use positive enabling to help an addict take the right path to recovery and addiction support.
Once an addict has learned that you are saying no for the right reasons and are willing to progress. Then help them to see the potential for change and the opportunities ahead of them.
You can cut off financial support but you can still provide emotional support and guidance about the true nature of their addiction to help them deal with their problems. Show them the consequences of inaction and then give them a way out.
This new, positive approach can be a great help, but it is not something to attempt alone.
Create a larger support network of family and friends.
The more people that are aware of an addict’s problem and individual situation, the more help that is available to them and to you.
In the hardest moments of anger, rejection and manipulation, you will need a strong support group to keep you grounded and back you up.
It can be difficult to ensure that everyone is on the same page with positive and negative enabling, but it provides greater cohesion, fewer support options for the addict, and also means that there are fewer secrets between family members.
As helpful as this sounds, you should also seek outside support where possible.
Use outside resources and professional help where possible.
It is understandable if you want to pour all of your time and efforts into helping a loved one to fight their addiction, but going at it alone can be harmful to yourself as well as the addict.
Don’t act as a therapist when there are qualified professionals and great addiction support groups that you can take your family member to. You can be there as support, but you are not solely responsible for change and progress.
This way you can take a step back, allow others to take the brunt of the anger and frustration and be there to continue positive enabling and support after the session.
Do what you can to help an addict, but not at the expense of your own health and welfare.
It is easy to get too deep in the recovery process because you feel duty bound, or perhaps to blame in some way. Protect yourself from getting sucked into the drama.
You can do a lot to help an addict on their journey through understanding the situation, creating a support network and managing positive and negative enabling. You can’t cure the addiction and deal with the impact single-handedly.
By knowing when to step back and call for help, you can work towards a better outcome for both the addict involved and yourself.