If you suspect your child, spouse, or friend is becoming dependent on alcohol or drugs you must do something to help them. Many parents develop a feeling of guilt and begin to wonder, “Where did I go wrong?” One of the easiest routes in handling your relationship with a person struggling with drug or alcohol addiction is to become an enabler, allowing your loved one to continue with their addiction with the support of money, food, or a place to live. It is not easy, but it is crucial that you break this habit and find help for them immediately.
Helping them can save their lives
Getting an addict help can reduce, or potentially eliminate, health problems or injuries associated with the addiction. Therapy and rehab can help ease conflicts you are likely facing with the addict and help them build healthy meaningful relationships. Offering help can also reduce the chance of running into any legal problems, like receiving a DUI or getting caught with illegal drugs.
Know your resources
To start- you must know you are not alone, and there is a vast network of resources for you to use while helping an addict. You can speak with your doctor, a local clinic, or counselors about how to approach the problem. Hotlines and forums are available for anonymous questions and are just a few of the great resources to help those struggling with addiction.
Deal with denial
Even if a loved one claims to not have an addiction, if they show signs of dependence you need to offer them help. They may say that drinking or drug use has not gotten them in legal trouble or trouble at work – but long term use of these substances will almost always negatively affect their health. It is important that you see through these statements and get them help right away.
Be prepared for anything
An addict may say anything to avoid getting help and you need to be ready to deal with that. Educate yourself on the effects of addiction so you do not fall into their excuses or lies about the substances they use. Sincerely express your concerns for their health and well being. Be ready to present consequences if the addict is unwilling to get help (i.e. they cannot continue to live in your house, you will cut all financial ties with them, etc.). Here, you must follow through or your words will have no validity and your loved one may continue to use you to fuel their addiction. If they are ready to accept help you must have something lined up for them immediately. Allowing them too much time to think about rehab or therapy may give them the chance to change their mind, so be ready to get them into treatment as soon as they say “yes.”
Last but not least, get help for yourself. Dealing with an addict is not easy and you may have thoughts or feelings you need to express. You may grow resentful of the addict and their previous behaviors if you keep your feelings pent up inside. If you were an enabler, you must learn how dangerous this can be and acquire the skills to avoid falling back into that habit once your loved one becomes sober. Learning how to be emotionally supportive is an important tool to help your child or spouse or friend continue on the road to health and sobriety.