When all the lectures, ultimatums and interventions are done, there is nothing left to do but watch a loved one spiral deeper into addiction. This is the way it can seem as addiction maintains a stronghold in the person’s life in spite of the best efforts of loved ones. While options may seem scarce, try the following tips to support an individual with addiction find hope in recovery.
- Listen more than talk. When an individual needs help, it can feel natural to do most of the talking: educating, offering helpful solutions and problem-solving for the person.. When struggling with addiction, denial can play a huge role in refusing to seek help. Listen with empathy and let the other person feel heard and understood. While talking, be clear, concise and direct rather than judgmental or confrontational. The message to the individual with addiction needs to be one of concern rather than condemnation.
- Get others involved. If the loved one will not listen, perhaps the individual will be open to hearing the message from someone else. This individual must be someone trusted and the seriousness of the situation evident. Offer to help the individual struggling to reach out to others who struggle as well (support group, therapist or addiction treatment center) but the first step is on the individual with addiction.
- Allow room for consequences. It is not possible to control the other person. Let the individual take responsibility for recovery. Manipulation, bribery or attempts at making decisions on behalf of the other person is a sign of codependency, a condition where someone is excessively emotionally or psychologically reliant on a loved one struggling with addiction. This may prolong the process of receiving treatment. Focus on letting the individual with addiction experience the full financial, legal and personal consequences of actions. It may be hard to step back and watch the person suffer but the good news is that when a family member steps away, it does not take long for the person with addiction to realize the need for help. If the legal system is involved, it may finally be the wake up call necessary to make change happen.
- Build a support network. When concern for the loved one with addiction overrides concern for the self or other close family members, it is time to reach out for help. Self care is important in a relationship with a loved one who has addiction. Turn to people who love and offer support including friends, family, therapists, support group like Al-Anon and other parents in similar situations. Sometimes the most powerful steps are ones taken to give motivation to the loved one for permanent change. A support network can highlight the need for change by providing insight about the situation which can be helpful in the long run.
Reaching out for help is the first step towards recovery. Our resources and programs can provide a pathway towards healing and hope for families struggling with addiction. Call us to find out how we can help you get started.