Seven Ways to Support a Loved One with Addiction

Suppose you have a friend or relative who is struggling with a substance use disorder. Whether it is alcohol, recreational drugs, or illicit drugs, it can be one of the most challenging situations to witness. Addiction can be crumbling, and when you are sitting in the backseat, watching it unfold with your loved one, it is a normal reaction to want to help. But how can you help? Many individuals are afraid to help, may not know how to help, or may cause more harm than good when trying to help. While each situation is unique, and everyone is fighting their own battle, below are some general tips on how to support a loved one who is struggling with an addiction.

Establish trust

The relationship between you and your loved one can be severed if trust is not at the foundation. Therefore it is essential to take action to build and strengthen trust in the relationship. Trust requires honesty, compassion, empathy, boundaries, and being able to communicate regardless of having different opinions or perspectives. Avoid negative interactions such as nagging, name-calling, criticizing, and judging, and instead, focus on the positive ways to help your loved one seek treatment.

Do not enable

An enabler is defined as “an individual who encourages negative or self-destructive behaviors.” 

Unfortunately, many family members and friends act as enablers to their loved ones who struggle with a substance use disorder. We often are scared or upset for our loved ones and want to support them, but instead of being honest with them, we try to rescue them from their addictive behaviors. We often will lend them money, bail them out of jail, make excuses, and hold their hand when they are in trouble. Even if we are doing these things out of compassion and empathy, this is more hurtful than helpful and can lead to worsening behaviors. Instead of enabling our loved ones, we should hold them accountable, allow them to experience the consequences associated with their addiction, and try our best to help them seek professional help.

Educate yourself

Mental health and substance use disorders are not simple. They are complicated disorders with painful consequences that can potentially wreak havoc. However, with the right education and treatment, there is hope for a full recovery and a successful future. As a family member or friend, it is essential to educate yourself about the addiction process so you can better understand your loved one’s disorder and journey to recovery.

Practice compassion and empathy

Addiction is difficult. The path to recovery is challenging, and sometimes relapse can be devastating. Nobody is to blame, but we often find ourselves pointing fingers, arguing, and destroying relationships because of the underlying addiction. During these times, it is crucial to take a step back, be kind, offer help, listen, and practice compassion and empathy towards your loved one.

Encourage treatment

Every substance use and mental health disorder will require professional treatment, at some point in the course of the disease. Seeking treatment earlier rather than later can reduce harmful consequences and can potentially lead to faster recovery. It is essential to encourage your loved one to seek treatment and find a treatment center that best fits their needs and personality. The relationship between the treatment team and your loved one is one of the most critical factors associated with recovery.

Set boundaries

In the chaos of addiction, boundaries are essential for your well-being. When individuals are deep in the perils of their addiction, they often portray harmful behaviors. They can cross boundaries that can potentially affect your own mental well-being and personal life. Whether it is prohibiting unethical behaviors such as lying, stealing, and cheating or not allowing them to use alcohol or drugs in your home, setting boundaries is beneficial to both you and your loved one.

Practice self-care

Helping and supporting your loved one during this time can take a toll on your physical and mental health. You may find yourself feeling sad, exhausted, and overwhelmed. As a result, this can affect both your personal and professional life. It is essential to take time for yourself to re-focus and re-center. Remember to spend quality time with your family, practice healthy sleep and dietary habits, and engage in activities that bring you joy. If you want to be a reliable support system for your loved one, you must first take care of yourself.

Someone once told me, ‘I heard you finally got rid of your addiction.’ I smiled and said, ‘No, addiction doesn’t work like that. Once you have it, you will always have it. I just choose not to feed it.”

– Anonymous

Seeking help at Quest 2 Recovery

Our philosophy at Quest 2 Recovery is simple: heal the mind, body, and spirit in a family-like environment. We believe in a holistic approach to treatment, one that caters to each individual’s distinct needs. As a trauma-based treatment program, we believe in resolving the underlying issues that brought the onset of substance use. Our team of clinicians helps each client identify the faulty belief systems stemming from childhood, then psych-educate clients on the symptoms of addiction and mental health disorders to understand and alleviate the power of certain triggers”. 

Why You Should Build A Support Group In Early Sobriety

Whether we realize it or not we all have support groups of many kinds. We surround ourselves with people that validate us, and who help us in various ways.

When you get on the road to sobriety, one of the first things you are told to do is to cut ties with those people who are a bad influence. These are people that enable your addiction, validate your behavior, and encourage you to make bad decisions.

Once you begin treatment for addiction, you may rid yourself of bad influences, but then you will find a hole, or something missing. That something missing is a support group that can help you on the road to recovery.

Why You Need A Support Group

It is true that the journey to sobriety, and staying sober, is an individual journey you must take for yourself. Even so, that does not diminish the importance of having a support group. We need other people no matter what we are doing.

We all need a support group. Many of these are formed unconcsiously as we select a group of friends to associate with. This group will influence you for the good or bad. When on the road to sobriety, you can choose the support group you need intentionally. Choosing new friends is just one part of the road to recovery.

A support group gives us a sense of community. It is a social network where you can get support, friendship and hope that you will indeed overcome. Seeing other people struggle and overcome can inspire us to keep trying when the road gets rough. We can also be helped as we help others with their struggles. It is easier to fight against an enemy when you feel like you have allies in the struggle. Being alone, or feeling alone, is one of the things that makes addiction hard to beat, and makes sobriety hard to achieve.

The Benefits

People

One of the main benefits of a support group is sharing with each other. As you listen to other people’s stories, and as they listen to yours, you can become inspired to keep going. Part of the problem of addiction is seeing yourself as alone, which makes the addiction worse. Having that group around you helps you realize you are not alone. You may also learn something from the stories of other people, which also helps with recovery.

When you were under the control of addiction, you had friends that shared a similar interest and maybe even the same addiction. You may not have been aware of it, but they were influencing you to make bad choices. With a positive support group, you can have other kinds of friends, the ones that support you and encourage you to make good choices.

The friends are there every day, and you need that support. There are also times when the going gets rough and you need more than a casual friend. In those times you can get the encouragement you need through your support group or network. They are there to help you when you are struggling most. Another benefit is mutual support which gives motivation. You can help motivate others in your support group, and they can help you. By talking about issues you help and encourage each other.

Accountability

Accountability is another aspect of having a support group. Encouragement and validation that friends provide is great, but there is another side. You need to have someone in your life who will question you when you start slipping into old ways that could lead you back to addiction. The group supports you and encourages you, and it also holds you accountable and points it out when you do not do well. You will be doing the same for other members of the group. There is then, both a benefit and a responsibility in a support group.

Being part of a group gives you a chance to be around individuals who are struggling just like you are. it also gives you a chance to be around people who are recovering and they will be a great inspiration. It is easier to relate to people who are either in or have been in, the same situation you are in. It is easier to relate to each other on many levels.

Connection

The group also gives you someone to talk to who can understand your struggles. it is very discouraging to try to talk to someone about your struggles if they are judging you or giving you simplistic answers, which is what you do not need. The more you talk about your addiction, the better you will be able to control the addiction. Secrecy is part of what makes it so strong, so talking about it defeats that before it has a chance to grow.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, don’t be afraid to reach out. At Quest 2 Recovery, we want to be there to help you on the right path of sobriety. Contact us today.