Supporting Addicted Loved Ones: 6 Ways to Help
The world has been turned upside down, as of late. Between COVID-19 and the social injustices pervading our country, life seems unrecognizable, unfair and uncertain.
But sometimes you have to tear something down to rebuild it even stronger. A deconstruction is happening all around us, and while we’ll hopefully come out of this more resilient, it won’t happen without its share of trials.
Right now, mental stability is being tested for so many and thus so is their sobriety.
Seeing your loved one struggling with their addiction is stressful. An overwhelming need to help them can consume you. But how do you help someone you don’t understand? Perhaps, whose plight is different than your own?
Ultimately, how can you help your loved one with their addiction?
According to a recent article published on KSL.com, family support is paramount in navigating the road to recovery. But being supportive is not enough, knowing how you can help is.
Here are six actions family members can take to assist addicted loved ones overcome addiction, continue treatment guidelines and maintain long-term sobriety.
Understand the Disease of Addiction:
The American Society of Addiction Medicine says addiction is a chronic brain disease. It’s not just about making bad choices or eliciting bad behavior. Drugs alter your brain chemistry, specifically affecting the areas that are needed for decision making. Individuals, who crave or seek drugs, never fully reach that original high. Families, friendships and jobs can be lost or damaged, and yet they’ll still continue down a path of destruction.
Addiction is a familial component, according to the National Institute of Health. And while researchers cannot clearly define why some people are more prone to it than others, it can be genetic.
Replace Judgment with Charity and Advocacy
There’s a stigma tied to addiction. Behaviors that are viewed as aberrant or less desirable than what is acceptable, creates barriers for these individuals to access the necessary care and support.
Addiction is a disease, whose reach is catastrophic. But once a family member understands that their addicted love one is suffering a brain disease and is in need of help, the stigma can dissipate. Compassion can then take the place of judgment, and that can be the catalyst needed to seek help.
Debunking the “Rock Bottom” Concept
Addiction, like any other disease, needs to be diagnosed and addressed right away. Waiting for someone to hit “rock bottom,” is dangerous and can be fatal. Addiction is chronic and progressive, so the sooner it is acknowledged, the sooner the healing can begin. When addicts begin their road to recovery, they will find they are not alone, and that sense of solidarity will only fuel the desire to continue and learn from their peers.
Understand How Family Can Contribute to the Cycle of Addiction
Sometimes – and unknowingly so – family members rely on negative patterns of persecution or codependent rescuing to help their loved ones suffering from addiction. That is why, it’s important to participate in recovery education so these negative patterns can change into positive ones.
Learning how to display unconditional love and connection without resorting to tactics that’ll enable or shame a person, is key to working together in fighting the disease. Establishing loving and firm boundaries are needed, also, to ensure respectful relationships. So it’s important to learn what is helpful and what is harmful.
Learn How to Eradicate Shame from Addiction
According to research, shame or self-stigmatization are at the root of addictions. There’s also a vicious cycle tied to it. Self-stigmatization results from public stigmatization. Addicts internalize the social disapproval and negative stereotypes attached to addiction, so they begin to feel bad and turn to drugs to numb the pain. But family members can learn how to communicate the right way, so they don’t trigger that cycle of shame, which can lead to cravings.
Go to Meetings, Learn from Others and Model Recovery
Family members can work with the same 12 steps of recovery as addicts do. While their loved ones learn how to overcome their own feelings of worry, shame and insecurity, family members can discover growth for themselves. A newfound hope can be achieved through treatment and education. They can also model a life of recovery, one that is rich in principles and peace, so they’re addicted loved one never feels alone in their home life.