Trying to help a loved one overcome addiction is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Especially since things are often made difficult by them fighting you every step of the way. As such, it is very important for you to know how to approach a loved one suffering from addiction.
Try to show them what’s wrong
When discussing how to approach a loved one suffering from addiction, it is essential to note that the first instance of doing so is the hardest. After all, you would be confronting them about their addiction. They will likely go into denial. They might react to the conversation angrily or even violently. Your loved one might even brush off the importance of what you’re discussing by citing that it’s not that bad and only affects them. This isn’t true, of course, but know that they will wheedle, threaten and guilt you into trying to drop the issue. Addicts can go to great lengths to justify themselves. This means they’ll likely be actively fighting your efforts to help them, which is never easy. What you can do, however, is show them exactly how their actions are hurting everyone else. This can often be the shock needed to start fixing things.
The danger of casting blame
When talking to your loved one about their addiction, it can be tempting to cast blame. After all, if they’d never tried the substance that got them into the entire mess, nothing would be wrong to begin with, right? Well, wrong. The reason why people reach for substances is that they are going through something that makes them tempted. The desperate need to fit in, to escape their daily life or some other emotional turmoil makes it impossible to deal with their thoughts. Even if it was their fault, casting blame will only drive them away or send them into a self-destructive spiral.
Never be too pushy if they’re cooperating
The thing you need to understand about trying to approach a loved one suffering from addiction is that you need to allow them to have their privacy. It can feel overwhelmingly tempting to make yourself a part of every minute of their day. To push for answers and ‘provide comfort’ at all times. However, the behavior you might see as comforting and reassuring can quickly turn overwhelming for the person you are trying to help. They might even feel like you are trying to control them and spy on them at every turn. This, to them, will seem like an apparent lack of trust and faith in them and can easily make them lash out. You do not want to be the reason all their efforts have gone down the drain, especially if it happens simply because they want to spite you! A little distance can sometimes help a lot.
Show your care and understanding
At the same time, you don’t want to swing too far in the opposite direction. Do not be emotionally distant or cold to them just because you’re trying to give them space. Family therapy and trying to develop healthy relationships are so important because they allow people to shoulder a lot more hardship than they otherwise would be able to endure. Sometimes, the difference between an addict overcoming their condition and failing to do so is knowing many people will be hurt by their actions. If you can be that centering rock for your loved one suffering from addiction, then do so! Be there to support them and show through actions the unpleasant parts of their recovery won’t deter you. Things will get worse, especially when first dropping the cause of their addiction, but then they’ll become much better.
Understanding the process might be unpleasant
As we already stated, the process of battling addiction is not pleasant. First, there’s the difficulty of initially approaching a loved one suffering from addiction. We’ve already discussed this, but we guarantee that going through it will still be emotionally devastating. Then, there’s the physical side when trying to overcome their condition. Addiction does not just go away quietly.
When people first go through detox, the experts from Harmony Ridge Recovery Center insist they do so under strict medical care for this very reason. They can go into shock, their bodies can react unpleasantly, and many other medical complications can happen. There will be all sorts of frankly disgusting and even horrifying moments. So, if you are not ready to endure all of that, approaching them carelessly will do more harm than good.
Work alongside them
Addicts struggle to find the motivation to fight their condition, and this is simply a fact. After all, addictive substances claim so many victims because of how they make people feel. So, the best way to approach a loved one suffering from addiction is by making it clear you’ll be there working alongside them the whole way. Do they need to change their lives significantly and stick to a strict regime? Then adopt those changes yourself and soldier on. This helps build rapport and lets them understand that, even to a lesser extent, someone is willing to put themselves through the same type of suffering they’re going through to help them.
Be aware of boundaries that can’t be crossed
The final thing we need to discuss trying to approach a loved one suffering from addiction is the danger of enabling them. Sometimes, it can seem like a good idea to ‘slowly ease off’ drugs or other addictive substances. After all, giving them just one more drink is better than watching them shiver on the floor, right? Not in the long term. By enabling their behavior even once, you signal that you’re not as opposed to it as you otherwise claim, which can reinforce their impression that their behavior is not wrong. Something addicts are very prone to, as we discussed before.
Knowing how to approach a loved one suffering from addiction makes this much more manageable. Even if the recovery process is complicated, they hope to return to normal life.
Learn about how to approach a loved one suffering from addiction so you can do it in a manner that lets you connect and work together on their recovery.