With drug overdoses exceeding 50,000 in 2016, it’s safe to say we are a nation in crisis. More than 50,000 families have been devastated by addiction, and even more families struggle to get it under control.
As someone on the outside, it’s difficult to know how to help someone who is struggling with addiction. So, here is a list of common dos and don’ts of dealing with a loved one who suffers.
Do: Give yourself permission to learn as you go
This step isn’t optional. Cut yourself some slack. Addiction is a tricky process to navigate, and you won’t always do or say the right thing. The fact that you care enough to worry whether you’re doing the right thing means that you’re on the right track. Keep learning and doing. You’ll get there eventually, and so will your loved one.
Don’t: Expect results “because you said so”
This may sound obvious, but you can’t will your loved ones addiction away any more than you can command them to stop. Addiction is a disease that changes a person’s brain chemistry. As much s they love you, you must understand that they have lost control over their actions.
Do: Find a good rehab program
Talk to your loved one about getting help. It must be his or her decision because recovery is a major undertaking. Look for a rehab program that spans more than 30 days, if possible. Recovery is a long process and finding the right addiction treatment is key to lasting success.
Don’t: Enable your loved one to continue using
There’s a fine line between loving and enabling, and it’s one that many loved ones of addicts cross. Enabling isn’t always as simple as handing someone cash. It could mean giving them a free place to stay while they spend all their money on drugs, or it could be allowing known drug users to come and go without question. It’s a good idea to ask yourself how you may be helping your loved one get high. Do this every so often, and you’ll be less likely to enable their drug use.
Do: Trust your gut
Regardless of how great a person’s character was before drugs, people who suffer from addiction can become manipulative. Drugs have changed their brain chemistry, and they’ll do anything to get another hit. If a story sounds questionable, trust your gut.
Don’t: Blame yourself
Many people mistakenly think that addiction is a choice. Although the addict may have chosen to use the drug at first, addiction is beyond his or her control. His addiction isn’t his fault, and it certainly is not your fault either. Even if your addicted loved one says things to imply that you’re the cause of her addiction, don’t believe it. Addicts justify their actions by any means possible.
Addiction is a complicated problem for any family to deal with, but know that you are doing the right thing by learning more about the problem. Understanding addiction is one of the best things you can do to help your loved one through recovery.