Addiction does not only affect the person addicted to drugs, but, it affects all those connected to the one abusing drugs, including their family members and friends. Their family often experiences a great impact and rippling effect from the abuse as well. Family members might feel shame, guilt or anger because of the other person’s drug use. They are also often left to experience the consequences that come from the family member’s drug use as well. Sometimes those abusing drugs may have isolated themselves from their family, the very people that care the most for them, leaving their family members hurt and confused. Even more, sometimes family members can be enabling the drug abuser by helping him, either directly or indirectly, obtain drugs. Regardless of the situation, family typically plays a tremendous role in the drug abuser’s life and can also be extremely beneficial in aiding in their recovery process.
If you have a relative who suffers from a drug addiction, here are some ways you can aid them and also take care of yourself:
First of all, research all you can about drug dependence and addiction and learn as many facts as possible too. Learn about addiction from as many forums as you possibly can. Search the internet or read appropriate books about addiction. You can even seek counseling yourself to aid you in understanding your family member’s drug addiction better and even learn how their dependency affects you.
Do not lecture them. Demanding that your family member change will more than likely not make her change, so you will just be wasting your breath and probably just end up in an argument anyway. She will have to choose to reform her life on her own, and telling her she must improver her life will not make her want to change. Not lecturing them does not mean you cannot let them know how you feel. Share your feelings with them and be consistent in how you communicate with them, but do not nag them about quitting. Showing her you care with your actions, instead of your words, will help her feel loved instead of judged also. It’s important to remember as well, she will have to be ready to quit before ever taking the first step toward getting help for herself.
Set boundaries with the addicted person and follow through with the boundaries you set. Do not threaten consequences unless you plan on following through with them. They will quickly realize you will not follow through with the consequences if you constantly threaten, but you do not follow through.
There is a difference between helping and enabling. Helping involves aiding someone with something they are truly unable to do for themselves. Whereas enabling is doing something for someone even though they are capable of doing it themselves. Stop enable the addict. It is often best that they experience the full consequences of their behavior. Stop making excuses for them and stop lying for them. This also includes financially supporting them-buying them groceries, paying their rent, loaning them money and bailing them out of jail are all forms of enablement. You must stop or the person using will continue to use drugs without consequences. It is okay to tell them “No”. It is often hard for family members to step out of this role because they are afraid of what they drug abuser might think of them, but the negative consequences they experience can provide motivation for them to seek the appropriate help for their drug dependence.
Do not let their addiction take over your life. You must live your life as if you do not have a family member who uses drugs. Do not stay home to “babysit” the addict. Again, you must allow the addict to experience the consequences of their behavior. By allowing their addiction to take over your life, you are enabling the dependence also. You need to take care and focus on you also! Do not neglect yourself in order to take care of an addiction that is your family and not your own addiction. It is not selfish for you to take care of yourself.
Take a minute to consider what it might look like for you, as a family member to an addict, to have the knowledge you need to effectively interact with your family member, where you are allowing yourself to live your life to fullest, while spurring them on to live their life free of drugs. Now is the time to develop a plan for your life in order to make this thought a reality. Now, what will you do moving forward?