How To Handle A Loved One With An Addiction – Part 2
Continued From – How To Handle A Loved One With An Addiction – Part 1
No one is born with a set of instructions on how to handle an addict. My perspective on what tends to work and what doesn’t, or perhaps better said, what can be helpful and what definitely is not, is born of my own experience as an addict. When I was ready to recover, and when I wanted it because it was what I knew I needed, it mattered little what people had said or hadn’t said. Nonetheless, looking back, I can see that some approaches were helpful while others resulted only in resentments I had to later work through in recovery.
What Is Helpful When Dealing With An Addict
By labeling these ideas “helpful,” I do not mean to imply that they will achieve the desired result of getting the addict to get clean. It is rather to say that these approaches are less likely to do harm and are more likely to help maintain a relationship of trust between you and the addict. In the end, the addict has to choose recovery because she wants it—not because you do.
Addicts are already isolators, so it may appear that all they want is more and more space and time to be alone and practice their addiction. By giving space, I mean to say, emotional space. Keep the addict near and continue to engage to the degree that she is able or willing. But refrain from making every conversation or occasion together about the disease. The addict already feels the all-pervasiveness of it. You don’t need to keep bringing it up or checking in.
Share The Struggle
Many families of addicts make the mistake of keeping the issue a secret. This failure to reach out is generally based in the fear of the stigma attached to addiction and mental illness. But you need support and help in what may be a very long battle. Start by speaking with a pastor at your church or with trusted family friends. You do not need to be ashamed, this is no one’s fault. Addiction is painfully isolating not only for the addict but for the family who has to live and deal with the secret problem as well. Humble yourself to bring others in for support.
Get Help For You
Addiction touches and traumatizes the lives of everyone in its midst. Family members and even friends can benefit from counseling or a series of Al-Anon meetings. Become educated about the disease and learn what you can and cannot realistically expect from an addict. Learn to recognize patterns of manipulation and become aware of your own potential tendencies for co-dependency and enabling. Find out how to set proper boundaries around a person with addiction and get the support you need in sticking to them. Programs like Al-Anon are miraculous in helping those who live with addicts to understand what their role is in dealing with an addict.
While I was blessed with recovery from my anorexia, I watched another young girl lose her life to it at the age of 24. If the addict you love does not find recovery, you must not blame yourself. You cannot save someone who will not be saved. By the same token, you cannot, even by poorly chosen words and unthinking behavior, stop someone from seeking recovery and getting well if that is what they have decided to do.