Addictions don’t affect only addicts. Addictions are a destructive force that rips through families and leaves a path of destruction that can take years to heal. At Prairie View, we believe that family matters. Helping families and loved ones set their own path toward recovery, is just as critical as treating the addictions.
With support families do survive, and even thrive, in the years following addiction treatment. But families, as much as the addict, must commit to focus on recovery.
Three C’s of Dealing with an addict:
- The family didn’t CAUSE the addiction
- The family cannot CONTROL the addiction
- The family cannot CURE the addiction
Things you can do for a loved one with an addiction:
- Learn everything you can about addiction and recovery
- Treat your loved one as someone with a serious illness. How would you interact with them if they developed severe heart disease or life-threatening cancer?
- Avoid being judgmental. Both of you are facing great challenges.
- Make time for the loved one to attend treatment and recovery programs.
- Develop a home environment that encourages sobriety (reducing triggers, etc.)
- Create a new life, rather than simply altering your old life, which makes it easier to avoid issues of addiction.
- Don’t provide cash; help by buying what the loved one needs.
- Discover positive leisure and relaxation. Addictions are used as ways to escape and find rewards, and creating alternative ways to meet these needs is important.
- Never enable. Covering or excusing the addiction is counterproductive.
- Never remove the consequences of the addiction, as negative consequences produce much needed change.
- Never use boundaries to embarrass or punish, but rather to guide toward positive behavior.
- Always acknowledge and emphasize the potential the loved one has to change.
Things family members can do for themselves:
- Remember to care for oneself. Life with an addict is exhausting. Allow time to recover.
- Avoid blaming oneself. Others control their own decisions, and they can’t be forced to change.
- The loved on with addiction should be working harder than the family. Never do for the loved one things they can do for themselves. Be an example of balance and self-care.
- Caretaking is not good for the loved one or the family, and there is only so much family can do to change their loved one.
- Do find help. Read relevant literature, consult with professionals, attend family support groups such as Al-Anon, etc.
- Never argue or attempt to reason with the loved one if they are intoxicated. It will not succeed.
- As fully as possible, avoid being negative with the loved one, as that may increase their sense of guilt and escalate their substance use.