October 2, 2019
Addiction has reached epidemic proportions in the US. Most of us know someone who has been touched by the disease of addiction. When addiction touches your immediate family or someone you love dearly, it can be extraordinarily challenging. Here are some tips to help you cope, and ways to support and help your loved one suffering from the disease of addiction.
Addiction is a disease. Once someone becomes addicted to a drug, stopping of their own accord becomes incredibly difficult. Remember, first and foremost, that your loved one is suffering from a disease that is as real as diabetes, heart disease, or any other life-threatening illness. The disease of addiction causes addicts to act in ways that are contrary to their sober character. You may hardly recognize who your loved one has become.
Addicts will steal, cheat, and lie to keep their addiction going and it’s important for loved ones to remember that their actions are fueled by an illness that needs to be treated. As angry or frustrated as you may be, always remember that the person you love is suffering and needs help.
Coping with having a spouse, child, or friend who is suffering from the disease of addiction is difficult. There are resources like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon that can help you. Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are 12 step programs that help people chart a path through loving someone in active addiction. They are comprised of like-minded people who have experienced what you are going through. They are there to help you. Reach out to them – you don’t have to go it alone.
You may be asking yourself why YOU need help when you aren’t the addict. The answer to this question is complex, but put here it is. When an addict’s behavior upsets the balance in your life, you need help to create healthy boundaries that can help prevent you from enabling their behavior. You also need to learn how to cope so that your life doesn’t spiral out of control too.
It is very hard for a parent, sibling, or spouse to handle the fear of losing their loved one to the disease of addiction. That fear can make it hard to stop giving an addict money or helping them get more drugs. Al-Anon and Nar-Anon can help you learn how and when to say no, and how to be of service to the addict you love.
Convincing a loved one in the throes of addiction to get help is a daunting task. As a recovering addict, I can tell you that when my loved ones first tried to convince me to get help, my initial reaction was to say no. I was terrified. I had forgotten who I was without drugs. I had lost hope, and, perhaps most importantly, the drug spoke for me – my soul was buried beneath my addiction. My reaction to getting help is very common. It’s important that you understand why your loved one may initially say no to treatment. It’s also helpful to remember that despite my fear, I was able to HEAR what my family had to say to me. So, the first thing to do when trying to help your loved one get help is to have an intervention.
First things first, find an intervention specialist. They can help guide you through the intervention process. If you need an intervention specialist, here’s how to find one.
Secondly, select the people you want to participate in the intervention. This group could include immediate family, parents, children, and friends. Whatever the intervention group looks like, all participants should be there to support, love, and help the addict accept help.
Finally, listen to the advice of your intervention specialist. He will be able to find a treatment facility (like Breakthrough Recovery Outreach) for your loved one ahead of time. An interventist will be also be able to guide you and the addict through the process and will have experience with working with addicts who are resistant to help.
Remember, interventions save lives. Doing it with a professional can give you and your loved one the best chance possible to succeed.
Some addicts will not respond to their first intervention. This is when Al-Anon and Nar-Anon can really help you to cope and not lose hope.
No two addicts are alike – just as no to people are alike. Here is what happened at my intervention. My parents and I were in different states and my father came to the intervention and met other loved ones here. He and I were alone in a room at a treatment facility, and here is what he said to me:
“If you take this help, I will do everything in my power to help you. I love you and will do whatever it takes to help you save your life. However, if you don’t take this help, I will not help you continue living the way you have been living.”
I answered, “I don’t think I can do this.” And, my father said these words back to me. “You can and you will.” I saw his faith in me and his love for me. I felt supported, loved, and safe. I agreed to get clean and every day for many, many months, I just heard his voice ringing in my ears. “You can and you will.” Until one day, I finally had this thought. “I CAN AND I WILL”
Call us at (770) 493-7750 and let’s work together toward healing.