When a loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol, everyone close to that person is affected. Trust is broken, relationships crumble, and family members experience emotional agony as their loved one’s life seems to spiral out of control. A person who suffers from addiction usually limits his or her time around loved ones, which results in long-term absences from family gatherings, holidays, or special family events. Guilt, shame, and low self-esteem can make it difficult for your loved one to come around.
There are ways to cope when a loved one suffers from addiction. Learning that addiction is a complex disease is a good way to start. Here are strategies to cope when your loved one has an addiction:
Learn about addiction: Go to AA or NA meetings and listen to what others say about their experiences with addiction. Meet people who struggle in similar circumstances. Join a forum online or a group on social media that relates to drug and alcohol addiction. Ask questions and get advice or suggestions from others.
Stay positive: Encourage your loved one to get help, and offer support and positive affirmation. Understand an individual with an addiction possibly suffers from an underlying mental health issue. Using shameful words or a negative tone could contribute to your loved one continuing his or her harmful drug and alcohol use.
Set boundaries: Setting boundaries shows your loved one what is off limits and teaches him or her to respect your rules and space. Plan expectations in advance and follow through with consequences.
Communicate: Talk to him or her and keep the communication open, positive, and encouraging. Go to group therapy or family counseling and get advice from professionals who are experienced with drug and alcohol addiction.
Understand you cannot control a person’s behavior: That includes your loved one’s addiction. Family and friends suffer a range of emotions from guilt, anger, frustration, and helplessness. Family therapy allows members to express their feelings.
These are helpful ways to cope when your loved one is battling addiction. It affects not only the individual, but also family and friends. A person cannot be forced into treatment and recovery, but can be encouraged to get help with love, support, and encouragement.