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How To Support A Loved One Living With Addiction

Addiction is a disease that thousands of people around the globe suffer from, and yet it has a damaging stigma attached. There’s a common misconception that addiction isn’t an illness, it’s a choice. However, this isn’t the case. The truth is that addiction is just as much an illness as cancer is, it’s just that in previous time periods, people haven’t seen it as such which has created a stigma surrounding it. However, just like any other illness, people suffering from addiction need support, understanding, and care.

Of course, anyone who knows someone who has suffered from addiction knows how challenging a condition it can be to manage and treat. As well as the fact that it’s a lifelong condition that it’s impossible ever to get rid of, all you can do is treat and manage it. When it’s your loved one (your spouse, child, sibling or parent) knowing how to approach the situation and get the result that is needed, isn’t always easy. It’s not as straightforward as telling them that they need help, it can be a lot more complex than that, which is why knowing how to approach the situation in the right way is so vital.

To help you to take the right approach to supporting your loved one with their addiction, below are some tips and pieces of advice that it could be useful to take note of and implement in your approach.

Understand the reality

The first thing that you need to do if you are going to help your loved one to deal with their addiction is to understand the reality of what living with an addiction means. It’s an illness which you can never cure; if it isn’t managed properly, it could kill them. That’s how serious addiction can be, which is why you need to treat it seriously. If you have any chance of helping your loved one to recover from their addiction, it’s important that you understand the reality that comes with addiction and what it means.

Part of accepting that your loved one is addicted to a substance like alcohol or drugs is facing what that means for their life and yours. It may mean that parts of your life will, at times, be out of control. You may also need to understand that you have to face life living with a constant, nagging worry about them and their health. The reality of having a loved one with an addiction may mean having to step on eggshells around them, to avoid making them angry. If you are serious about supporting your loved one through their addictions, you need to understand what that means.

Reach out for help

A lot of people choose to put off asking for help dealing with their loved one’s addiction, waiting until things get very bad to seek help. It is often because you hope against hope that things will improve on their own and that outside help won’t be required. However, the truth of the matter is that this is rarely the case when it comes to addiction. The fact is that it’s almost impossible for an addict to ‘get clean’ by themselves, and almost always specialist help is required.

Many people put off seeking help because they are concerned about the cost and whether their insurance plan will cover it. However, there are many drug rehab insurance providers who do include this kind of treatment, so you may well have it in your plan. If you don’t, then perhaps you could look at other options, such as a payment plan, for instance. Don’t let the concern about the cost of treatment put you off. After all, nothing is more important than your loved one’s health, is it?

Don’t be an enabler 

Often, loved ones of addicts end up stuck in a tricky situation where the addict (their partner, parent, sibling, or child) asks them for money. Sometimes they can even guilt trip you into it, making you feel guilty if you refuse to give it to them. The problem is, of course, that if you give in and offer them the money that they want, you will be enabling their addiction, because you will be giving them the money that they need to purchase alcohol or drugs.

It can be difficult not to become an enabler, especially when you don’t know what to do to help them, or are concerned about their reaction to you saying no. However, if you want to help them, you need to stay strong and say no. Otherwise, you are enabling the addiction and making the situation worse. You don’t want the addict to see you as an ATM; you need to show them that you are a pillar of strength and support and that you can get them through their addiction, with professional help, of course. There are also many addiction recovery resources online that can advise you on what to do.

Focus on your health

If you are going to help your loved one to tackle their addiction, you need to take the time to focus on your health. It may seem like a strange thing to suggest but helping to support and care for someone with an addiction can have a huge impact on your health, particularly your mental health, which is why it’s so important that you take the time to look after yourself.

Far too many people make the mistake of thinking that if they practice self-care and put themselves first, they are unfair to their loved one. However, the truth is that you can’t help anyone if you aren’t taking care of yourself, which is why it’s more important than ever to practice self-care when dealing with an upsetting situation like this. It’s especially important to take care of your mental health, as it’s your mental wellness that’s most likely to suffer as a result of the stress and anxiety of having to support someone with an addiction.

Supporting a loved one living with an addiction isn’t an easy task, in fact at times it can be downright deliberating. However, if you manage to give them the help and support that they need to get clean and get their lives back on track, every sacrifice that you make is worthwhile.

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