How To Help A Loved One That's Struggling With An Addiction

By Addiction Helpline America
December 16, 2019

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You may suspect that a friend or a family member is struggling with a drug addiction, yet you may be unsure about how to approach the situation. The recovery process can be long and family involvement is extremely important.

It is helpful to understand some of most common signs and symptoms that are associated with drug abuse.

The following are common signs to look for if you suspect that a friend or family member is struggling with an addiction: Includes the following:

  • Poor hygiene or neglected appearance
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms whenever the person is unable drink or use
  • Extreme mood swings like becoming sad or angry when someone questions them about their drinking or drug addiction
  • Lying about the substance or the amount they are using
  • Stealing valuables or money to support their habit
  • Attending social events only if alcohol or drugs are available
  • Developing issues at school or work, for example, dropping out of school or losing a job
  • Appearing tired or unwell
  • Sleeping irregular hours or sleeping more and being lethargic
  • Developing issues with memory and cognition
  • Looking intoxicated more and more often
  • When friends or family members are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, they are likely to behave very differently from when they are sober. Your loved one may exhibit risky behavior like driving drunk, having unprotected sex or sharing needles. They may also do and say hurtful things to those closest to them.

    It is only natural that issues like these can cause intense fear and worry for family members. Family therapy is suggested before a person receives treatment and while the drug or alcohol addicted person is in recovery.

    Family therapy is a key component to healthy boundaries and education which enables your friend or family member to accept treatment and achieve a healthy life style in recovery.

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    What should you do if you are in a co-dependent relationship?

    It is easy for loved ones and especially family members to end up in a co-dependent relationship when someone they love is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction.

    A codependent relationship is an imbalanced relationship where there is an excessive psychological and emotional reliance on a friend, partner or family member.

    This type of relationship can be exhausting for the person who takes on a caretaker role. Beyond this, many times this creates a dynamic where you are working harder on persons recovery process than they are.

    This type of relationship also brings about enabling. Family members often enable their addicted loved one by doing things like giving them money, making excuses for them if they miss a day of work and bonding them out of jail.

    This behavior is rarely helpful and can end up fostering your friend or family members substance abuse. Of course, this is not your intention, but it is something that can often happen.

    It is, therefore, essential to be aware of the signs of codependency and seek family therapy to help resolve these challenges. This includes the following:

  • Not being able to set personal boundaries
  • Saying ‘yes’ to requests your loved one makes even if you are not comfortable with the request
  • Trouble talking about your feelings honestly
  • Disregarding your own needs and self care
  • Fear of abandoned by your family member or loved one
  • Taking responsibility for the family members life and recovery
  • This is one of the most significant signs that you are in a co-dependent relationship with your loved one.

    You may feel that you have a heightened responsibility for their thoughts, behaviors, and decisions. You may feel a need to make sure that your family member is happy, even if it is coming to a point whereby it costs you your personal happiness. You may also feel like you need to protect your loved one; for example, you may call their boss and make an excuse when they are too hungover to make it to work.

    Our friends and family helpless?

    A lot of people believe that friends and family members are helpless when it comes to helping someone seek treatment with an addiction. You may have heard other friends or family members tell you that this is the case and that you are wasting your time.

    However, this can't be further from the truth. While you cannot force someone to go to treatment or to seek recovery support groups, there are some actions that you can take to support the loved one with the assistance they need to get the right addiction treatment center.

    Here are some of the ways you can support your loved ones or family members to seek recovery:

  • Encourage addiction treatment and support groups for your loved one.
  • Gain education regarding addiction and the recovery process to better understand what your loved on is experiencing.
  • Address any of the underlying barriers which are preventing your family members or friends from seeking treatment.
  • Use assertive communication to find compromise.
  • Give verbal and physical encouragement when the person who is addicted achieves something positive.
  • Speak with love, care and concern.
  • Be consistent with consequences, promises, expectations, and rules.
  • There are also some things that you should not do while you are trying to help a loved one struggling with drug abuse. This includes the following.
  • Do not place the entire responsibility on the person who has the addiction.
  • Do not speak in an accusing or cynical way, as this can cause the person to feel more guilt and shame which can deter the recovery process.
  • Do not punish the person for failing to keep sobriety instead set strict boundaries.
  • Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how to help a loved one who is struggling with an addiction.

    There is no denying that this can be one of the most challenging things that any person goes through.

    However, if you follow the advice that is here, you will put yourself in the best possible position to help your family member or friend.

    If you have any questions or concerns contact Addiction Helpline America at (844)-377-8070 we're available 24/7.

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