Addiction doesn’t only affect the person suffering from it, it also affects their family and friends. When a person close to you, such as a family member, develops an addiction to drugs the consequences can be devastating, it can have emotional, psychological and financial effects on you.
Many people have a family member who has developed an addiction but don’t know what to do about it, and it can be frustrating and overwhelming. If you are in this situation, there are several ways you can handle having an addict in your family.
- Educate yourself on addiction
Sometimes we may overlook the signs of addiction in a loved one, or maybe, even though we’re suspicious, they may keep lying about it or hiding it. The first thing you need to do is to understand what these signs and symptoms are.
Research the web for information on different types of addiction and identify the one your loved one is suffering from. Knowing the type of substance they are addicted to can help you know the specific symptoms and consequences so you will know what to expect, as well as give you guidance on how to best address the situation and find the right kind of treatment.
Recognizing the complexity of addiction can help you cope with it. It’s possible that you think that drug addicts simply have poor moral values or lack willpower, but there are actually several biological processes that make it very hard for the addict to overcome his or her disease.
- Take care of yourself
As mentioned before, drug addiction can have heavy consequences on those closest to the person suffering from it. So it’s important for you to tend to your own mental, emotional and physical needs first. You shouldn’t feel selfish about caring for your own well-being. At the end of the day, it is hard to be present for others dealing with a problem when your own needs aren’t being met. Getting regular exercise, eating right, sleeping soundly and engaging in an activity you love are fundamental aspects when it comes to taking care of yourself.
It’s also important not to let yourself be abused.This can be emotional, psychological, even physical and sexual abuse. From stealing to support their drug use to rage blackouts, abuse may take on various forms. Regardless of the type of abuse, you need to identify it and immediately take reasonable steps to protect yourself. Drug abuse is not an excuse for your loved one to hurt you without facing any consequences. If the circumstances call for it, don’t be afraid to contact authorities to intervene.
- Don’t enable their behavior
Enabling drug use occurs when you remove the natural consequences of their behavior and taking over the responsibilities of the addict. You don’t have to directly support addiction, by simply sustaining it or eliminating incentives for change, you’re enabling the addictive behavior.
You can offer emotional support without enabling the addiction. There are some limits or boundaries you need to set and keep, such as making excuses for them, giving them money, allowing them to consume in the house or giving them a free pass when it comes to responsibilities. Let them know you’re willing to provide them with emotional support and insist on good, responsible behavior.
- Connect with families who are going through the same situation
Talking to people who understand what you’re going through can be very helpful for your emotional health. There are several programs and support groups in which you can connect with peers who are dealing with addiction at home. They provide a safe and nonjudgmental space where you can learn and discuss addiction, and how to handle it. Attending these support groups can help you lower your stress levels and improve your overall quality of life. By listening to other families’ experiences you may get the skills to handle the situation at your home.
- Seek professional help
Living with an addict often produces feelings of rage, anxiety, denial, and blame. If you feel like it is causing damage to your mental health, it may be a good idea to schedule therapy sessions with a counselor that can help you understand and overcome these issues.
Therapy is a safe place in which you’re able to unload and talk openly without any judgment or blame. Talking to a counselor may help you feel less stressed and he or she can provide you some perspective and advice on your situation. Therapy may be just what you need in order to find the strength and resilience you need to cope with such a troublesome state of affairs.
No matter how helpless you may feel when it comes to dealing with an addiction at home, these tips may help you get through it easier. You shouldn’t feel guilty about your loved one being an addict, and though you may be eager to help them or “fix them”, remember the best way to be there for them is making good decisions for yourself and taking care of your health. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help if needed, you’re not alone and the support of others can be fundamental to helping you handle this situation.
Do you have any advice on how to handle an addiction at home? If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment below.