If you have a family member that is struggling with drugs or alcohol (or addiction of any kind, really), then you know that maintaining a healthy relationship with an addict is not the easiest or most attainable goal. It is challenging to face your family members personal struggles, and watch them slowly tear themselves apart.
As with most situations, educating yourself will help to make you feel a bit more equipped to handle an addicted loved one. Here are a few pointers that may help you build a more healthy relationship and cope more effectively with an addicted family member.
Substance abuse is a disease
Substance abuse is not simply a choice to get messed up over and over again. It is a disease of the mind. The mind constantly seeks to fulfill some undying and unfulfilled need. Even if the addict stops their addictive behaviors, the urge and potential to use will always remain.
The point of rehabilitation is to find more constructive ways of coping with the root psychological issues of a persons addiction. Rehab does not cure an addict.
Understanding codependency and enabling
It is easier to manage troubling behaviors and relationships when you better understand the nature of the bond. Codependency is a very strong mental bond between two people that, when broken, can cause an individual to act out. Codependency is also a two-way street.
You have to be willing to accept your faults in the relationship. If you are enabling your addicted loved one, then you need to know the consequences of that behavior. Providing a safe home, money, food, or transportation to an addict is enabling them to continue their use.
A few things you just cannot do
Here is what you cannot do for your addicted loved one:
- You cant make them quit. You can stage an intervention, pay for treatment, and drive them to the front door of the facility, but you cannot make an addict quit.
- You cant do the the recovery work for them. The process of recovery takes work, and your loved one will only benefit if they experience the journey.
- You cant let them cross your personal boundaries with negative behaviors. Addicts know no bounds, and they will walk all over you given the chance.
A few things you definitely can do
Here are a few things you can do to make a difference:
- You can take care of yourself. If you continually toss your own needs aside to tend to the needs of others, you will be left feeling worn and resentful.
- You can educate yourself. Learn more about addiction as often as is possible.
- You can talk about it. Talk with like-minded people about life with an addicted loved one.