Addiction Treatment

How to cope with and help a family member with an addiction

Watching a loved one struggle with a dependency is frightening and frustrating. Not only do addictions create physical problems for the addict, but family members are sometimes left in financial ruin or become the victims of physical or emotional abuse. If someone in your family has an addiction, here are some thoughts to help you cope.

Take Control

Before you can help your loved one, you must help yourself. If you are in physical danger, remove yourself from the situation immediately. Prior to confronting someone about an addiction, make sure your support base is strong. You are about to embark on a roller-coaster ride, so make sure you have someone there who will be by your side throughout.

Be Prepared

When confronting someone with an addiction, depending on what you suspect their reaction will be, you may want to hire a professional to help with an intervention. If you decide to do it solo, bring along a trusted friend if you fear physical lashing out. Prepare your thoughts. Rather than place blame, state facts.

Be Specific

Instead of telling the addict that they are ruining their life, or your own, recite to them what you have done to cover up for them over the past week: how many times you called in sick, how many times you took the kids away so they wouldn't see the drunken or drug- induced state, how much money they are spending. Tell them it isn't fair.

Do Your Research

Research rehabilitation programs and support programs that will assist the addict in recovery. It's important to realize that if someone suffers from a disease of any kind, it is a battle to stop. They will need your support. It is advantageous to find a support group of your own for families affected by addiction.

Establish Boundaries

It is very important that you nicely but assertively set limits. Tell your loved one in advance just what you will and will not do, and stick to it. If you swear you won't give them money for drugs any longer, don't. If you tell them you will not cover for them at work or family functions, don't. Sometimes, it's when people hit rock bottom that they find their own footing.

Try Tough Love

Making sure your loved one knows you love and support them is crucial, but don't be a doormat. You can guide someone and love them without condoning their behavior. Your constant checking in may feel overwhelming to them, but deep down, it's your love and care they will remember. Treat your loved one with respect and dignity, but stand firm.

By Molly Carter