If you have a loved one struggling with an addiction, you might wonder about the best ways to support them. Most people want to help their loved ones stay safe and healthy. You probably want to help this person get all the resources they need to overcome this difficult illness.
Addiction is a highly complex illness, which is why many people are unsure of the best way to help their loved ones. Here are three things you can do to support your loved one during their addiction and throughout their recovery journey.
Building trust with someone with an addiction is the first step in helping them recover. Trust enables this person to be honest with you and turn to you when they need help.
The more you know about your loved one’s behavior, the better able you’ll be to get them the help they need, so it’s important to create a safe space for them to share.
Trust is built on communication. Be honest with your loved one, and don’t make promises you can’t keep. Be sure to follow through on commitments and be consistent. While it can take time to build trust, consistency in your relationship will allow trust to grow more quickly.
When building trust with your loved one, you may have to be patient waiting for this person to feel comfortable being open with you. In some cases, your loved one may not believe their behavior is a problem, or they may not want to make any changes. Showing that you are there for them whenever they are ready to make changes will help build trust.
Because addiction can lead to social, professional, or legal consequences, when your loved one confides in you, remember they’re taking a risk. Keep the information they’ve shared with you to yourself unless they’ve given you permission to share with others or if sharing the information with a healthcare provider is necessary for their safety.
When someone has an addiction, their behavior can be difficult to watch and sometimes hurtful to friends and family. This makes many loved ones pull away from the addict. While it’s very reasonable to spend less time around this person when they’re not treating you with respect, you can still hold compassion for them.
Remind yourself that addiction is an illness, and most people don’t want to end up with an addiction. Often, circumstances like mental illness or traumatic events lead to addictions. Although your loved one may be acting poorly, it is the addiction that’s causing it rather than the real person you know and love. Remembering to be compassionate can help you avoid living with anger.
Remind your loved one that you care about them and want to support them. Even if you need to spend less time around this person, you can write letters explaining that you care, and you can remind them that you’ll be there to help them get help when they’re ready.
Boundaries are one of the most important pieces of the puzzle when it comes to supporting someone with an addiction. If you don’t set appropriate boundaries, it could damage your relationship and make it difficult to remain compassionate.
If you don’t feel comfortable sharing physical space with your loved one while they’re struggling with their addiction, find other ways to connect, such as over the phone or by email. If you don’t feel comfortable with the amount of respect your loved one shows you, set boundaries about how you’d like to be spoken to.
It’s important to be clear in your communication of your boundaries and inform your loved one when they’ve crossed a boundary. It’s up to you whether you feel comfortable allowing your loved one a second chance at following your boundaries. If you feel allowing your loved one another chance will be harmful to you, then don’t be afraid to create more distance in your relationship.
Remember that letting your loved one treat you however they want is not an act of compassion. Setting boundaries is compassionate. Even though it’s difficult, it will allow you to maintain the energy you need to be able to support your loved one. If your loved one reacts poorly when you set a boundary, remind yourself that you’re doing it because you care.
When you create distance in your relationship with your loved one, you are making space for yourself to be the kind of person your loved one will need when they’re ready to begin the recovery journey. If you need to limit communication, tell your loved one that when they’re ready to make a change in their life, you’ll be there for them again.
Supporting someone with an addiction requires patience, and it can be very emotionally challenging. Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to friends and family for support when you need it. A mental healthcare professional can help you if you feel your mental health is being negatively affected by your relationship with a loved one who is an addict.
It’s also critical to remember you’re not solely responsible for your loved one’s well-being. While you can offer support, you’re just one piece of the puzzle. The success of your loved one’s recovery journey is out of your control. Turn to healthcare professionals trained in addiction recovery to support your loved one in recovery.
The team at Jackson House Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers will help you manage the burden of supporting your loved one through recovery. They will guide your loved one through the recovery process, so you don’t have to.
Some people feel they can guide their loved ones to recovery on their own, but this is too great a responsibility for anyone to take on, and especially not for someone without training. Reach out to Jackson House to discuss the needs of your loved one and get them the support they need.