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Anger, guilt, confusion, betrayal, pain and anxiety are just some of feelings you may experience when someone close to you suffers from an addiction to drugs or alcohol. While it is completely normal to feel like this, it is imperative that you make sure these powerful emotions and feelings don't affect how you approach the topic of addiction and getting your loved one professional help.
The following dos and don'ts can offer you a general idea on what you should or shouldn't do when trying to get a loved one to agree to seek help for an addiction.
Don't Stage an Intervention Alone
If you are inexperienced with staging an intervention, the way you approach the topic of addiction could backfire and make the person with an addiction feel attacked. If he or she feels this way, he or she may be reluctant to agree to treatment. Using a professional interventionist instead of planning your own intervention can help improve your chances of getting your loved one to agree to seek help for addiction.
A professional interventionist can help you create a plan of action for the upcoming intervention. That plan should include who will be present, how the topic of addiction is approached, and how people will explain the need for treatment.
Do Set Strict Boundaries With Your Loved One
Your first instinct when a loved one has an addiction might be to do anything possible to help him or her, but that can put a huge emotional strain on you. Make sure you set boundaries with your loved one. This is extremely difficult because you may feel like you are abandoning this person and leaving him or her to struggle. Though it can help your loved one accept responsibility for his or her actions.
Some boundaries you can set include:
- Your financial responsibilities — will you help with bills, money for food, or other expenses?
- Whether it is OK to drink or do drugs in front of you and/or in your home
- Setting curfews or limitations on when he or she can visit or call you
- Outlining what you will or won't do should he or she end up in legal trouble
Don't Blame Yourself for Your Loved One's Addiction
It is important to remember that nothing you said or did caused your loved one's addiction. He or she made the ultimate choice to take that first drink or try drugs. After he or she took that first drink or tried that first drug, this person’s ability to make good decisions and not abuse drugs or alcohol is gone and the addiction takes over.
Do Educate Yourself About Addiction
Many people who have never struggled with addiction find it difficult to understand what an addict is experiencing. Taking time to educate yourself about addiction can give you a better understanding of what your loved one is going through.
Some topics to research include:
- How addiction affects the brain
- Who is affected by addiction
- How addiction impacts family and friends
- Treatment options that have proven successful
Don't Neglect Yourself
It is easy to become so consumed with your loved one's addiction that you neglect yourself. You may forget to take time to relax, seek professional help, go to doctor appointments, or just do activities you enjoy.
Make sure you remember to take care of yourself. When you do, you will feel emotionally and physically better — so you can provide your loved one with the support he or she needs to get help.
Do Have Hope for the Future
Living with loved ones who have an addiction is never easy. One day they will want help. The next day they won't. All the uncertainty can make you lose faith that your loved one will ever quit, but don’t give up!
It is important to remain hopeful for the future. The more optimistic you are, the more likely your loved one will be hopeful for the future and eventually someday seek help for his or her addiction.
Following these dos and don'ts won't instantly solve all your problems, but it will help you know how to best handle your loved one's addiction. The better you handle your loved one's addiction, the more likely you will be able to provide him or her with the support and encouragement needed to take the first step to sobriety and seek help.
Author bio: Taylor Wood is Executive Director at Buena Vista Recovery. He attended Arizona State University for business and education, and was introduced to the recovery industry in 2012. Wood has established a dynamic way of helping patients that brings about change, hope and joy.