Being the loved one of a person with an addiction is not an easy title to hold. Today we will highlight seven things you can do to help your loved one (and yourself) through an addiction.
Let's open today's post in prayer.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We come to you in search of direction and guidance. Navigating our loved one's addiction is overwhelming and we need your help. Provide us the strength and endurance to take care of ourselves and our loved one. We pray that if it is your will - that you would deliver our loved one from their addiction. We pray that they would receive complete and total healing!
God, if the answer is no or not yet, then we pray that you would continue to see us through this difficult journey. Our faith is in you alone and we trust that whatever your plan - it is good. We thank you for listening to our prayer. We praise your holy name!
In Jesus Name,
7 Simple Tips to Help Your Addicted Loved One
Do not underestimate the power of prayer! God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can even ask. And during a time when your loved one's addiction is out of your control your ability to pray with 100% within your control. In fact, this may be the only tip on the list that is completely and totally achievable. If by the end of this list, you find that to be true, don't be discouraged. If you do this one simple thing - pray for your loved one without ceasing - you have done more than all of the other advice in the world combined.
God is all powerful! Cast your cares on him for he cares for you!
2. Set Boundaries
As a Substance Abuse Counselor, when I would meet with a client and their loved one during a family session setting boundaries is one of the first things I would encourage them to discuss. So what are boundaries? And how do we stick to them?
Think of the lines on a volleyball court. When the ball goes out of bounds we have to reset, but for as long as the ball remains in bounds everyone is able to enjoy the game. The goal should be to gently volley the ball back and forth as many times as you can with your loved one.
Each relationship is different, so discovering how you will stick to the boundaries you've set will take some brainstorming and possibly trial and error to see what works for you and your loved one.
Here are some examples of healthy boundaries:
-No, I will not give you cash. If you need gas I will put the gas in your car myself or accompany you to the gas station.
-No, I will not lie for you.
-No, I will not be involved in any illegal activity.
-No, I will not buy alcohol (or drug of choice) for you.
Boundaries may feel uncomfortable at first. Especially if there is a big change between how involved you were in contributing to your loved one's addiction and how uninvolved you are attempting to be now. But don't worry! Consistency is key. Just as they learned how they could manipulate you or coerce you into being involved in their substance abuse before, they will learn your new boundaries and what you will and will not participate in now.
If you were involved in using with your loved one or profiting in any way from them being involved in using - don't let that stop you from making these changes. If you want a sober and healthy environment for you and your loved one, then it is okay to change! These are YOUR boundaries and you get to decide what you will and will not put up with.
Just remember - be consistent!
3. Set Expectations
If boundaries are the lines on the volleyball court, then expectations are the rules of the game. And that's exactly how you should approach this conversation with your loved one. A game with no rules is just chaos. Which often times is what addiction leads to, right? Chaos.
Let's give some structure to our environment, so we can live in peace!
Some examples of expectations may look like this:
- I expect you to have a job.
- I expect that there will be no substance abuse in this house.
- I expect that you will be home between the hours of __ & __.
- I expect you to help with such and such household chores.
- I expect you to attend at least x amount of recovery meetings each week.
Now depending on your relationship and living situation each person's expectations are going to be different. If you are the parent of a child that has an addiction then your rules go.
I know, easier said than done, but again, consistency.
Outline for your child the consequences of not abiding by your expectations. And stick to them! You can involve your child in this conversation by asking them what they think the consequences should be if they break a rule. Involving them will also increase the likelihood of them abiding by the rules. No one likes to just be told what they have to do. And incorporate positive reinforcement as much as possible. Who wants to be punished for mistakes, but not recognized for a job well done?
If you are the spouse of a person with an addiction then respect that they are an adult and are going to make their own choices, but likewise, so are you.
So again, clearly explain what you expect and what will happen, if they are unwilling or unable to meet your expectations.
Remember, you must be willing to stick to the terms you set, so don't say you are going to divorce them, if you know for a fact that you are not.
In contrast to the parent child relationship, the spouse relationship will be much less focused on consequences. Instead, try to focus on explaining how you feel when they do not follow through with your agreed upon expectations.
Marriage counseling is always recommended for couples that are navigating the addiction world. There are many resources to support the spouse of a person with an addiction.
If you are the wife of an addict, Married to Addiction would be a great resource for you!
4. Anticipate Difficulties
Don't be surprised if or when challenges arise.
Addiction is much like life - full of ups and downs. If you can, make a list of some of the opposition you may encounter either from your loved one being opposed to your new ideas or from your own struggles with saying "no" or possibly even situations that have caused problems in the past that you are aware may still interfere with your goals at this time.
The more you are able to plan for possible difficulties the better prepared you will be should you encounter them. So take some time to consider what your loved one's response may to a conversation about boundaries and expectations. Or what would happen if either of those are broken. And then develop a plan for how you would respond.
5. Be Patient
You will help yourself and your loved one through this process, if you get comfortable with practicing patience.
The fruits of the spirit are: love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Now, asking God to give you all of those gifts would be spectacular, but if you feel a bit overwhelmed by thinking of implementing all of those into your character, start with patience.
Treat this process as a marathon, not a sprint. You will need endurance to finish this race. There will be uphill climbs and downward slopes, but as long as you are patient you will persevere.
Be patient when your loved one lets you down.
Notice, I did not say be a door mat. But yes, extend mercy and grace. Allow them to make mistakes and talk about it, so they can understand you are not simply seeking to condemn them.
Think about God and how patient he is with us. How many times have we let him down? Do we still have consequences to our decisions? Of course.
But is he not patient and understanding of all our short-comings?
Let's try our best to be like Christ. Our loved one is suffering through a terrible disease.
Let's be the light.
6. Self- Care
How many times have we heard the phrase "You can't pour from an empty cup?"
Well, it's true, isn't it?
We must take care of ourselves if we are going to be at all able to help our loved one.
Self-care is whatever healthy coping skills you utilize that leave you feeling rejuvenated.
If you need some ideas - you can click here.
7. Don't Lose Hope
Whatever you do don't lose hope. Your story isn't over. God isn't finished. When it looks as though everything is crashing down around you, remember God has a plan. And not just any old plan.
A PERFECT plan.
He works everything out for the good of those who love him.
When my mother experienced hepatic encephalopathy, due to cirrhosis of the liver, I thought for sure I was going to lose her. I was only in my twenties. She wasn't even 60 yet.
I was distraught. I watched her seize on her hospital bed and I cried like a baby. The security guard handed me a tissue and said, "She's going to walk out of here."
I didn't believe him.
She went into a coma and for three days I paced around her bed in the ICU and prayed over her, begging God to please not take her just yet.
He graciously allowed me to spend five more years with her.
Very difficult years. Filled with a lot of physical and mental struggles for my mother.
But also five wonderful years filled with love and cherished memories.
Loving someone with an addiction is not easy.
He will provide. He will heal our heartache. He will ease our burden.
He's still working miracles.
Just don't lose hope.
Until Next Time,
Your Praying Friend
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Substance Abuse Counselor