Witnessing a loved one struggle with drug and alcohol abuse issues can make an individual feel a wide range of emotions. These emotions can run across a wide continuum including helplessness, concern, resentment and anger. For those who want to help their loved one, there is also a fine line between providing support and empathy and enabling the addict to continue their cycle of addiction and abuse. There are things people can do to help their loved one quit drugs.
Learn About the Disease of Addiction
Obtain information about the disease of addiction through counseling, open AA/NA meetings, and meetings like Alanon and Naranon. Addiction thrives in an environment of ignorance and denial. Only when we understand the characteristics and dynamics of addiction can we begin to respond to its symptoms more effectively. Realizing that addiction is a progressive disease will assist the family members to accept there loved as a “sick person” rather than a “bad person.” This understanding goes a long way toward helping overcome the associated shame and guilt.
This implies that the addict needs to experience an accumulation of negative consequences related to drinking or drug use which provides the necessary motivation and inspiration to initiate a recovery effort. It has been said that both reality and consequences are the foundations of insight and this holds true for addiction. Rescuing addicted persons from there consequences only ensures that more consequences must occur before the need for recovery is realized.
Enabling, such as providing financial support, can be provided in many ways and they all serve to prolong the arrival of consequences. Buying groceries, paying for a car repair, loaning money and paying rent or mortgage payments are all examples of contributing to the continuation of alcohol or drug use. Money is almost always given by family members with the best of intentions, but it always serves to enable the alcoholic or addict to avoid the natural and necessary consequences of addiction.
Addiction is subtle: it will infiltrate a family’s home, lifestyle, and attitudes in a way that can go unnoticed by the family. As the disease progresses, loved ones will unknowingly accommodate its presence. Examples of accommodating the addict include locking up ones and other valuables, not inviting guests for fear that the alcoholic or addict might embarrass them and adjusting one’s work schedule to be home with the addict or alcoholic.
Do Focus on Your Life
You must identify areas where neglect has occurred due to the heightened focus on, or even obsession with, the alcoholic or addict. Family members, friends, hobbies, employment, and health often take a back seat to the needs of the alcoholic or addict and the inevitable crisis of addiction. Turning attention away from the addict and focusing on other personal areas of one’s life is empowering and helpful to all concerned.