It can be heartbreaking to see a loved one struggle with addiction.
Staging an intervention to share your worries and suggest treatment is an excellent start to support your loved one’s recovery, but you cannot control how receptive they will be. If your loved one still refuses to get treatment for addiction, there are a few steps you can take.
If you have expressed concern to your loved one and they still refuse to seek treatment, you can encourage them to do so by enforcing real consequences to their behavior. This can range from merely removing drugs and alcohol from your home to moving out or asking them to move out if they cannot live in the same dwelling without drugs or alcohol. The purpose is not to punish, but to send the message that you will not tolerate their substance abuse.
Do not enable
Often, family and friends of addicts allow their behavior without even realizing it, or even in an attempt to help. Do not give your loved one money, bail them out of jail, lie for them, or do anything else that lightens the consequences of their addiction. This is easier to say than to do because, of course, it is our instinct to help our loved ones in any way we can. But addicts have to learn from their mistakes, and taking the burden of their own consequences off of them will not encourage them to seek treatment.
Be compassionate and understanding
Addiction can be hard to understand if you do not suffer from it yourself. Remember that it is an illness, as real and uncontrollable as cancer or diabetes. It is something your loved one cannot help having, and will likely have to treat for their entire life.
Don’t take their inability to be sober or unwillingness to get treatment personally. It is not a reflection of their love for you, but rather a sign of the significant hold their addiction has on them. Also, don’t mistake addiction as a matter of willpower. Recovering from substance abuse is not the same thing as sticking to a diet. It is a mental health problem that requires professional help to recover.
Addiction is not only hard on the addict, but on everyone close to them. Having a loved one who struggles with addiction can take a toll on your mental health. Handling and worrying about your loved one’s addiction can cause you to suffer from anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches, or stomach troubles (such as stress ulcers or digestive issues). You can attend group support meetings to have a better understanding of addictions and meet others in the same position. It is crucial for you to take care of yourself, not only for your own sake but so you can better help your loved one. Take time for self-care, such as regular exercise, a nutritious diet, good sleep habits, and making time for fun recreational activities can help keep you happy and healthy while supporting your loved one.
Other tips you can also find on our blog.