If you are a family member of an alcoholic or addict, trying to provide support and encouragement can be difficult. There can be a fine line where trying to help can enable the alcoholic or addict to continue their destructive behavior. It is important to find ways to help your loved one in a healthy and proactive manner so they can get the help they truly need. The following are 8 ways that you can provide support to an alcoholic or addict without enabling their behavior.
1. Establish Boundaries.
Boundaries help guard against being manipulated and will prevent misunderstanding. It is important the addict knows what you will do and what you won’t do. Examples can include not spending time with an addict if they are under the influence or not supplying them with money to continue their habit. Give a consistent message that you do care, but in doing so there are firm guidelines.
2. Accept Outside Help.
We would like to think we can rescue or fix an alcoholic or addict, but in reality addiction is a powerful and complex disease. Our attempts to help the addict will more than likely make the issue worse. It is best to seek professional help through a doctor or addiction specialist. With the help of a professional, we can start putting more focus and energy on our own lives.
3. Help Where You Can.
Since you accept that you can’t help the alcoholic or addict on your own, you have to find ways that you can help them while they are getting help. If they have children, ensure there basic needs are met and be a part of their lives whenever and wherever possible. If they have pets be sure they are being taken care of and loved.
4. Attend a Support Group.
In order to support a loved one or friend with a drug and/or alcohol problem it is important to be knowledgeable about the disease of addiction. Get involved in support groups such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon which are for family members and friends of alcoholics and addicts. Find organizations in your area that focus on addiction and treatment issues and get involved.
5. Allow Consequences to Happen.
Let the person suffer the consequences of his or her substance use. First and foremost, stop making excuses for their drinking and drug use and don’t take over the person’s responsibilities or cover up for their behavior. Allowing them to suffer consequences might help the person realize their substance use is causing a problem.
6. Get Them to Treatment.
If you’re loved one or friend agrees to treatment for their drug and/or alcohol problem take them immediately to treatment. It is important not to wait because the person might decide not to go after all and any attempts to get them treatment down the road may be more difficult.
7. Following Through.
Whether it is setting boundaries or taking them to treatment, it is important to follow through with what you told the person you would do if they crossed set boundaries or did not get treatment. You can show concern and support, but the addict or alcoholic needs to understand they are responsible for their recovery and to make things better for themselves, family and friends.
8. Are You Codependent?
Be aware of any codependent tendencies that may cause you to want to rescue or save your loved one or friend with a substance abuse issue. Codependency can be defined being excessively passive, caretaking or controlling in your relationship with an addict. This is a significant roadblock to both their recovery and yours.
If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction there is hope. Call the Dream Center for Recovery today at 1-800-761-0327 and begin your journey towards recovery.