Finding out someone you love and care about is a drug addict is a devastating feeling. It leaves you wondering whether you did something wrong that contributed to the situation at hand, and it is very painful discovering it because they have likely hid it from you for very long.
The most common situations of people who struggle with substance abuse is that they tend to go through mental health issues such as bipolar disorder, depression and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), in addition to going through physical problems as well – including chronic and short-term problems.
The effects it has on the people in their lives is a lot. They all go through pain and suffering, including the people that are closest to them – best friends, spouses, children, parents and siblings.
It is therefore very important to know how to assist your loved one should this situation happen to you. In addition to this, you and other people close to the individual should take care of themselves as much as possible.
What you cannot do
Force the person to quit
No matter how painful it is, you cannot make someone sober, no matter how good your intentions are. You might organize for an intervention, and you might be successful – but at the end of the day, you cannot force a person to quit drug abuse if they do not want to. The desire to be sober must start with them, as they are the ones who will go through the journey of sobriety.
One of the most painful lessons you need to learn from this situation is learning to let go, because you cannot control what is happening to them. That will make them realize it faster – that there are natural consequences of their actions.
Doing the recovery work for them
In addition to learning to let go, you cannot do the job of recovery for your loved one. They must go through the withdrawal symptoms, and they must commit themselves to the journey of sobriety. All you can do is offer them your support.
This even applies to situations of relapse. The addict might not want to go back to their previous life of addiction, but they may succumb to it, and it may end up worse than before – even resulting in death. Regardless of how much you know about the subject, it is painful to see your loved one spiraling down the road of addiction – but you need to also remember that addiction has no logic to it.
Acceptance of behavior that violates boundaries.
You need to set certain boundaries for the person to realize you will not tolerate an enabling environment. Once you have set these in place, do not allow violation of these rules – otherwise, you set yourself up for loss of credibility, and you risk making the addiction worse.
When the addict realizes that you mean what you say, they eventually come to respect you. The boundaries do not need to be overly complicated either. It can be something as basic as staying sober and clean while they are in your home. If they break the rule, you calmly tell them that you are angry and disappointed, and there are consequences for their action – and then follow this through.
For many drug addicts, they rarely realize the seriousness of their addiction until they face certain consequences – and that forces them to realize the gravity of what has happened, encouraging them to seek help. As hard as this may be, only they have the power to fix the situation, not you.
What you can do
Going into a battle you do not understand is like going into war blindfolded – you will never win. When a loved one is struggling with addiction, make an effort to educate yourself on addiction, as well as relapse triggers and treatments, and make sure you are talking to your loved ones about addictions from early ages of life. While educating might not guarantee that they will make sound choices, it can be a very useful tool to finding ways to recovery and prevention of drug abuse.
When your loved one goes to rehab, make sure you participate in family programs that are offered. This will provide new opportunities to support them in their journey to sobriety and help you take care of yourself at the same time. In addition, it is important that you are a source of accountability after treatment, especially because they might experience relapses along the way.
Take care of you
At the end of the day, your loved one is the one overcoming the addiction, not you. Do not forget to be good to yourself, whether or not they succeed.
Part of this also comes with the knowledge that you cannot control their actions, but you can choose to make wholesome choices for yourself. As long as they are there, the only thing you can offer them is your support and encouragement, regardless of the treatment methods they prefer.
In case a relapse occurs and leads to the death of your loved one, it is important to remember – not everyone will understand your pain or grieving process. However, ensure you make choices that still promote your wellbeing, such as starting initiatives that give back to the community and help other drug addicts from falling into the same trap.
Talk about your struggle
You should never walk alone – community is the major source of comfort, and they might be the ones who will encourage you through the process no matter where it leads you.
It is difficult to deal with a loved one who is a drug addict, but open dialogue can encourage them to open up and talk to you about their struggles and how they feel about things.
While it is difficult to deal with a drug addict who is your loved one, it is not impossible. As long as you know howto handle them and figure out what you should not do, things will be okay, no matter what happens. Above all, it is essential to remember that they are the ones who must willingly commit themselves – and you have no control over what they do.