Navigating A Loved One's Addiction Can Feel Overwhelming
We can help!
As a Substance Abuse Counselor, I have worked with hundreds of clients who struggle with addiction, simultaneously I have also worked with the people who love them. My heart goes out to the family, friends and significant others that so desperately want their loved one to heal.
DO'S AND DON'TS OF HELPING YOUR ADDICTED LOVED ONE
Do look up available resources
Oftentimes someone with an addiction will have a hard time seeking help. Finding a counselor can feel overwhelming or intimidating for someone that doesn't have an addiction, so imagine how it must feel for someone whose brain is impaired, judgement is clouded, or motivation is low. It can help them a lot if you know where they can turn for assistance. Do provide a phone number, a location, or financial/insurance information.
Do not make the appointment and demand they seek help
The research is clear. No one changes, until they're ready. So while it can be very helpful to provide information, it can be very unhelpful for both of you if you make the appointment without their permission or involvement. Chances are they will be angry, blow it off, or give you a false sense of hope if they do go. Best practices to ensure both of you manage expectations is for you to provide education about what is available and then given the opportunity they choose whether or not to make the call.
Do focus on yourself
It is so easy to get lost in a loved one's addiction. The highs and lows, the unpredictability, the chaos, it can all feel like you are just existing rather than living. Remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup and it is not your responsibility to fix anyone else. Taking care of yourself is essential to helping anyone else. Taking care of yourself often looks like firm boundaries. If you are unclear about what boundaries are or how to set realistic expectations with your loved one, reach out for support. We would love to walk through this with you.
Do not put yourself last
I have yet to meet someone that loves a person with an addiction that hasn't frequently put that person's wants and desires before their own. When you love someone with an addiction you have this strong urge to please them and "keep the peace." This looks a lot like doing whatever will keep that person happy and a lot less like considering what makes you happy. I'm not encouraging you to be selfish. I am strongly recommending balance. Do not skip your time with friends, because your addicted loved one wants you to sit at home while they're at the bar or while they drink in the next room. Do not neglect your health, because making time for your workout interferes with their drinking plans. Do not cancel your weekend plans, because they may get drunk and embarrass you - uninvite them and you go and have a good time! It's okay to pursue the healthy life you want.
Do implement a healthy routine
Taking care of your health goes hand in hand with "focus on yourself." The emotional, mental and physical strain that goes along with loving someone with an addiction can oftentimes lead to unhealthy habits. During this stressful time it is of the upmost importance that you fuel your body and brain with exercise, nutritious foods and a structured sleep schedule. You will feel better. Your mood will improve. And you will have the energy to face all that life throws your way!
Do not make excuses
This one sounds harsh, but it's for your own good. Because life is messy, we can easily justify eating poorly, skipping workouts or staying up late to escape into a Netflix series. Don't do it! Humans thrive in structured environments. Start a routine and stick with it! Unsure of how to begin? Reach out! Life style changes aren't just for people quitting things, they can also be for starting and accomplishing goals! I'm a big fan of SMART goals. You'd be amazed at what you can achieve when you learn this skill!
Lastly, do let God be God
Do pray. Do trust. Do step out in faith. Do let the Creator of the entire Universe solve the problems that are much too big for you to tackle on your own. Do your part, but let God be God. Then rest, knowing that God is in control. Be reassured that God has a plan, it is perfect and it will all work out for good for those who love Him.
Do not lean on your own understanding
You will drive yourself crazy trying to plot your next move, predict their next catastrophe, or pretend that everything is fine. Instead of trying to comprehend the chaos, simply read God's word and find comfort in knowing that none of this is a surprise to Him and He is going to see you through it!
If you enjoyed today's message please tell someone about Your Praying Friend, but more importantly tell everyone about Jesus!
We are here to help any way that we can. If you need someone to talk to please reach out.
Substance Abuse Counselor