Addiction can happen to anyone, at any time, and at any age. Even the most loving families often have members who are struggling and who turn to substances to help them to get through the day. Addiction is not a weakness, and it’s not something that you can wish away. If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, I imagine it’s all you can think about. If you have a family member who is dealing with this kind of pressure and stress, the best thing that you can do is learn how you can help them. Helping them through their addiction is the only way to get through it together, and that’s why you need to learn what to do next.
In addition to taking some steps to get your loved one into a treatment facility such as a place like Delphi Health Group, it’s important as a family member to have an understanding of addiction and how to continue to take care of your health while you are supporting them. Just because you’re not the one dealing with the addiction, doesn’t mean that you’re not dealing with the consequences.
Let’s take a look at 10 tips that can help you support someone struggling with substance use disorder.
- Read as much as you can. As somebody watching from a distance, it can make you feel very helpless to see somebody struggling so much and not be able to do anything about it. The thing is, you can do something, and that something is to educate yourself. Read as much as you can and learn as much as possible about addiction and what it means for your family member. You cannot experience addiction for them, but you can understand as best you can what they are dealing with, how they are feeling, and what they could be looking into for the future.
- Connect with your friends. It’s not easy to live with or support somebody who has an addiction to a substance, which means that as much as you want to be the support system, you need a support system yourself. Speak to your friends and see who you can get to help you with this situation so that you can at least feel like you have someone to lean on. Connecting with peers can very much be a lifeline for you. There are also support groups available, in some areas, for the families who care for someone struggling with substance use.
- Encourage family therapy. The problem with addiction is that the addiction itself is selfish. Your family member who is suffering is not selfish – I will just say that – but the addiction is inherently selfish because it pulls that person into it without guilt or consequence. Your family member wants to care for themselves but they cannot. Your family member wants to care more for you and their other family members. However, they can’t. Addiction is something that takes a lot of strength from a person, so encouraging family therapy is a good idea. You cannot shame somebody out of addiction, but you can find support for your family while you are going through it together. Also finding a treatment facility that not only addresses the addiction but any past trauma that may have led to addiction, like at Inner Voyage Recovery Center in Atalanta, GA.
- Do the little things. Well, they’re not little things. While you can’t pull somebody from an addiction, you can make sure their basic needs are met. Do they have clean clothing? Are they bathing and grooming themselves? Do they need access to food or shelter?
- Manage your personal expectations. When someone struggling with substance use disorder enters treatment, the whole family goes on this recovery journey. There is a sense of palpable hope that runs through the group, but you need to manage your expectations. Just because somebody enters into rehabilitation services, doesn’t mean they are going to be instantly better. This is going to take time. You need to be willing to see the whole thing through from rehab and beyond.
- Do things that make you happy. Your whole life cannot be about somebody else’s addiction. You have to be responsible for your own joy, and your own bliss. This means that every time you have somebody in your family who is recovering from addiction, you’re going to have to move the spotlight off of them occasionally and put it back onto yourself. While you are busy caring for another person, you have to remember to care for yourself.
- Make sure you exercise. Getting out of the house, getting out of a space with somebody who is addicted to a substance, and going out into nature can make a big difference to how you feel; it’s a benefit to your mental health and well-being. It is not easy to be one-to-one with somebody who cannot help but want their addiction and their substance. Get outside and breathe some fresh air; you need the break.
- Make sure that you’re getting sleep. If you want to help somebody in your family who is dealing with addiction, you have to help yourself first and foremost. It is not selfish to put yourself first, and that means making sure that you are sleeping. It may be helpful to work with a therapist who can help you emotionally cope with the circumstances at hand, to make sure that you are able to get as much sleep as you need to feel better within yourself.
- Attend therapy for yourself. Family and group therapies are not your only option. You can take yourself to a private therapist and talk to them about the struggle that you are having being a caregiver to somebody who is addicted to a substance. If you want to help someone struggling with a substance use disorder in your family, you have to ensure that you are well supported so that you are in the right frame of mind to do that. Addiction is not easy, and this is not something you should ever have to deal with by yourself. If you are getting somebody you love the help they need, you need to ensure you are receiving help, too. Imagine how much better the relationship could be if you both re-enter the relationship having addressed your “stuff” individually.
- Be their advocate. There is so much misinformation that surrounds addiction, and for some people, addiction is a weakness – somebody didn’t have the willpower to stay away from an escape. Addiction is chemical, and it’s not a weakness. If you want to help somebody in your family with their addiction, you must do what you can to advocate for them at all times. And, advocate for yourself within the relationship, too. Working with a therapist yourself can assist you in doing so without shaming the loved one who is struggling.
P.S. Do you need additional support or resources? Check out my recently added Mental Health Resources page!