When you’re watching a loved one struggle with substance abuse, it is a nightmare. We often feel that we can only offer our help and love to them, but it may feel hopeless when they don’t want your help. There are key facts to remember when it comes to helping an addict; you didn’t cause the addiction, you can’t fix them, and you can’t control them. You can help someone who doesn’t want help. Although it may seem like a trick question, it is possible.
How to Help an Addict: Things you Can’t do or Change
When you’re trying to help someone that is addicted to drugs or alcohol, there are things that you can’t do. That does not mean that you are incapable of doing these things; it means that you cannot control the person who is suffering from addiction.
- You Can’t Make Them Quit – What you can do to help them in the meantime is stage an intervention if you feel that is the route to offer them help again. You can’t establish expectations ahead of time that they will accept help because it is offered. You cannot control their behaviors, thoughts, or feelings about accepting help and going to drug rehab. Interventions only work when there are clear boundaries. You have done your part by offering the necessary help, but after that, there is nothing more you can do. Acknowledging and accepting that you are powerless over their addiction can help you to work in reality.
It is not your responsibility to try to coerce them into stopping their drug use or drinking. You can only control yourself. Even if your loved ones goes to treatment, it does not necessitate them staying sober once they leave. You have to be able to stand your ground to be there when they are ready to accept treatment.
- You Cannot Recover for an Addict That Doesn’t Want Help – While as much as you want your loved one to maintain sobriety after leaving treatment, you can’t recover for your loved one. You can only work a recovery program of your own because the lasting impact addiction has on families is deep and traumatic. You also need to allow yourself time to heal. As hard as it is to continuously watch your loved one go back to drinking and drugging, there is nothing that you can do. You can only begin to take care of yourself and know what options are available to help you. Sometimes after attending a treatment program, your loved one will maintain sobriety and then relapse. If you begin to notice the signs and warnings of a possible relapse you can only ensure that you have open lines of communication. Having open lines of communication allows you to express your concerns to them in a healthy manner. It, unfortunately, doesn’t guarantee that they will see these signs or change their behaviors.They may not want to hear your suggestions or change their behaviors, but if you have brought it up to them, you’ve done all you can. You can only express your concerns and be supportive as they try to correct their behaviors and actions, but you can’t force them to do anything. You can’t want their recovery more than they do.
- Accept Boundary Breaking Behavior –Boundaries are for you, not the other person. If you set a boundary that is broken, it is up to you to not accept that behavior or action. When helping an addict, it doesn’t always seem like what you’re doing is helping them. Especially in terms of setting boundaries. Telling someone who is actively using drugs, or drink the word “no” can seem nearly impossible. Underneath the addiction, they are your mother, father, brother, or child. It is easy to fall into addicts manipulation tactics and to concede to their requests. That is not helping them.
There is a difference between helping someone and enabling. Many people struggle with the anticipation of their loved one’s reaction to the boundaries that have been set. Remember, boundaries are for you; they are for your mental wellbeing, and safety. Those who are in active addiction will often try to cross boundaries or attempt to manipulate you to go back on the boundaries that you have set. The crucial aspect of boundaries is that you have to stick to them. If you don’t follow through with a boundary that you’ve set, your word isn’t credible anymore, and it is easier to take advantage of the boundaries that have been set and adhered to previously. When you don’t remain steadfast in the boundaries you have set, it leaves room for misinterpretation of what your boundaries are. Boundaries must be clear cut and stuck to. Boundaries are uncomfortable at first for both parties, but in the long run, they help more than they harm.
Boundaries are for you. When someone struggling with addiction must face the consequences of their actions, it allows them to grow in the right direction. Boundaries hold both parties accountable for their actions. It is hard to watch someone we love struggle, but boundaries allow us to keep ourselves safe.
How to Help an Addict: What Can You Do?
With the restrictive nature of trying to help someone who doesn’t want help, you can feel helpless. The only person that you can help is yourself. Helping ourselves is the only way to help our loved ones. There are options for helping yourself. Pursue the ones that you are most comfortable with. The more options you have, the more chances that you have to find the path to your recovery.
- Talk About Addiction– Talking about your loved one’s addiction can help you. Addiction is not something that can be swept under the rug; it is often a life or death situation. Talking about your loved one’s addiction with those who have been in your position, a support group or in counseling can alleviate a large amount of stress that you feel. Knowing that you aren’t alone in this seemingly helpless time can give you hope that you can heal, and your loved one can recover.When you are trying to help an addict that doesn’t want help, you may feel partly to blame. It is not your fault. Remember that you did not cause their addiction and you can’t fix or cure them. When you offer your help to an addict even with supporting them from a distance, they may not want your help or be willing to accept it. The only thing that you can do is to hold your ground, reach out to your support group and talk to the addict if possible. No one on either side of addiction is alone. There are many resources available to those suffering from addiction, and their families.
- Educate Yourself – Educating yourself about addiction can help immensely. When you have facts and information, you can make informed and intelligent decisions about what you need to do. Educating yourself on addiction isn’t easy, and it may be hard to learn the difficult more gruesome facts and statistics. Education allows you to understand their struggle so you can better equip yourself on how to deal with being on the other side of addiction.
If and when your loved one decides to seek substance abuse treatment, attend any family programs that they offer. Family programs are another source of education on addiction and give you a safe place to discuss your concerns and fears with your loved one. Attending a family program can also allow you to work on yourself, and recognizing what you need to become healthy while simultaneously working on your relationship with your loved one. Family programs allow you and your loved one to foster a relationship and address issues that you may have within your family dynamic. Family programs at treatment centers can be extremely beneficial for you and your loved one.
- Self-Care is Important – In the turmoil of a loved one’s addiction, we often forget to take care of ourselves. Regardless if your loved one is doing well, or is in active addiction, you have to take care of yourself. Your loved one can’t control your life and well-being, no matter how much their actions and decisions may affect us on an emotional level. You must be capable of taking care of yourself despite what may be going on with your loved one. Helping an addict can be exhausting. Don’t neglect your wellbeing because of your loved one’s addiction.The amount of grief in loving someone who is an addict if astronomical. Whether your loved one is still alive or has passed on, it is a heartbreaking experience to watch someone you love turn into someone you don’t recognize. Developing a self-care routine of your own is essential to maintain your wellbeing. You must be able to take care of yourself. That is the only way that you can hope to help them when they are ready to accept treatment. It may seem paradoxical that you have to be able to help yourself first before you can help them, but it is true.
What Are Your Options to Help an Addict?
The many ways that we offer to help addicts are often detrimental to them, or ourselves. There is no logic when it comes to addiction. Often, we can only help ourselves. When we take care of ourselves, we don’t place blame where it does not belong; it gives us the chance to begin healing. When we start to heal, we can help others heal. We can offer the necessary help to our addicted loved one in a healthy manner for both parties.
If your loved one is ready to accept help and admit to a drug rehab, contact us today at 888-345-2025. You can heal, we can help. GH Recovery Solutions offers a Family Program to help you and your loved one. We know that having support in addiction recovery is important; let us get you both on the path to recovery.