Living with a son, daughter, brother or sister who is addicted to drugs can be absolutely draining for the family. If you are in this situation, you’re likely wondering, “What are the best ways for a family to support an addict?” It may feel as though nothing you can do will ever help them get sober. You have tried time and time again and feel completely spent.
Addiction affects everyone, not just the person abusing substances. Oftentimes, though, they do not realize how their actions influence other people, especially those closest to them. They continue to use no matter how much you beg, plead or pray. Some continue their behavior even after you cut them off entirely.
Even when it seems like there is no hope, there are ways for a family to support an addict. Anyone with a desire to get clean and sober can do it, even the most hopeless addict. The biggest obstacle is that they must get sober for themselves because they honestly want to, not for anyone else.
Though this might make you feel like there is no chance, there is. Once the addict hits their bottom, the lowest place they are willing to go in their addiction, they will get sober. Until then, you can learn about some of the best ways for a family to support an addict.
1. Approach the addict when you are calm and rational.
One of the best ways for a family to support an addict is to ensure that you enter each conversation clear and levelheaded. Arguments with an addicted loved one will usually go in circles, so it is best to make sure you can remain collected. When you speak calmly, your addicted loved one is more likely to stay calm as well.
If you approach them while angry or frustrated, you are more likely to say something that you’ll regret. You must remember that the addict’s behavior is not your fault, nor your responsibility. However, by making sure you are as calm as possible before speaking to them, you have a better chance of getting through to them.
2. Refuse to deal with the addict when they are behaving irrationally.
If you are talking with your addicted loved one and they become angry, the best way to support them is to end the conversation. When an addict is angry it is impossible to have a calm, logical discussion with them. Your conversation will only lead to more hurt feelings, anger and discontentment.
They may try to keep the argument going by attempting to engage you. If you ignore their attempts for long enough, though, they will give up eventually. You can approach them again once they are capable of having a levelheaded discussion.
3. Take care of yourself.
Taking care of yourself is one of the best ways to support an addict, even though it seems counterproductive. Shouldn’t you be concerned with helping them rather than helping yourself? After all, your loved one is the one in the most danger. However, in order for you to provide care for anyone, especially someone who is addicted to drugs, you must first take care of yourself. If you don’t, you won’t have the patience left to handle the interactions with your loved one in a collected manner, and you won’t have enough energy to devote to other areas of your life.
Self-care for the families of addicts can include:
- Individual or family therapy
- Joining a 12-step program
- Continuing to participate in activities you enjoy
- Going on a date with your partner
- Devoting attention to your other children
4. Cut off all contact.
When you have been used and abused endlessly by the addict’s behavior, your only remaining option may be to cut them off entirely. Do not send money, take phone calls, visit them or pass along messages. Some addicts can only understand the destruction they have caused when they realize their parents or siblings won’t talk to them anymore.
You may feel that this will encourage the addict’s behavior. However, there is nothing you can do to convince an addict to use or not to use. They are their own person who makes their own decisions, just as you are. Cutting off contact from an addict will likely be one of the most difficult things you have to do. But if they continue to take advantage of you, it may be the final thing you can do for them.
Once an addict is willing to get sober and shows an honest desire to do so, the best option is for them to find a treatment center or 12-step program to attend. If you have cut off all contact, do not return until you have seen a change in their behavior. However, if you are still talking, you can assist them in finding an addiction treatment center or other program.
Although some of the items on the list will not be easy to do, you must make these difficult decisions if it comes down to it. Many in recovery have said that the best way for a family to help an addict is to cut them off while they are in active addiction. They explain that they would never have gotten sober if their family hadn’t temporarily severed ties.
These are only a few of the best ways for a family to support an addict while they are in active addiction. If you or or a loved one needs help with addiction treatment contact the Recovery Village today – we can help.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.