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Drug addiction is one of the toughest challenges a person will ever face. But this challenge can be even more difficult if the person with the addiction is a loved one. It can be enormously tough to deal with these people. They often need huge amounts of patience, resources, support, and professional help. In 2019 Bright Future Recovery center interviewed 211 fathers who were receiving treatment for a drug addiction and found that such men were more aggressive physically, sexually and psychologically toward their partners, than men who were in a control group. If you need help with this issue, then here is what you should know about supporting loved ones who have drug addictions.
Expect a bumpy ride
Getting through this time can be enormously difficult. There are many reasons for this. Your loved one may have difficulty facing up to the fact that they may have a problem. Not only that, they may not want to change what they are doing. There is also the chance that they may not want to discuss their addiction with you. Worst of all, they could be in denial and unwilling to do anything about their addiction.
Also understand that your loved one will go through a great amount of difficulty when overcoming their addiction. This is not something which is done easily and will take a huge amount of time and effort.
Try to build trust with them
It’s important that your loved one is able to trust you. They need to believe that you have their best interests at heart and are actually trying to help them. This is easier said than done. Your loved one may have betrayed your trust. They may have lied, stolen or let you down in some way. In this case it’s important that you be the bigger person.
This is one of the most important things you’ll have to do. It’s imperative that you remain non-judgemental. Avoid criticizing the person, as well as nagging or lecturing them. Also avoid yelling at them or name calling. You need to avoid all negativity. Remember, stress will only make things worse, and criticizing them will generate negative feelings in the addict and encourage their drug use.
Do not engage in addictive behaviors
If you’re really going to support your loved one, then you need to be free of addictive behavior. There’s no way that you’ll be able to help them if you’re also addicted to a substance. In fact, you will probably end up making their issues worse.
Get support for yourself
As we’ve said, having a loved one who is addicted to drugs is incredibly stressful and difficult. If you’re going to get through this then you’re going to need help. It’s important that you seek support for yourself. You should also develop strategies for dealing with stress and even grief. It’s a good idea to start seeing a therapist, you can also start participating in support groups such as alcoholics anonymous, or narcotics anonymous.
You need to maintain clear lines of communication with your loved one. They need to know what you’re thinking and feeling at all times. They should understand how you feel about their addiction and how badly you want them to change. You also need to encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings. While this may be difficult, studies have shown that addicts are more willing to change their behavior if you communicate openly and honestly with them. You also need to be prepared for how they’re going to communicate. You need to be patient and don’t be surprised if your loved one has a great deal of anger towards you.
Investigate treatment options
Depending on the severity of their addiction, your loved one will more than likely need treatment. You need to decide how you’re going to handle this and investigate your options. It’s important that you discuss this with your loved one and make sure they are on-board with this. Remember, addicts will only change when they are truly committed to changing. If you’re seeing a guidance counsellor, they can help you with this.
Respect their privacy
Addiction is a deeply personal issue. This is why one of the tenets of alcoholics is that it’s anonymous. You must respect the privacy of the loved one in your life. Avoid sharing details of their problems with friends and family. Do not tell people what is going on with them or what is happening with their treatment. Also respect their privacy when in therapy. If there is something they don’t want to talk about, then do not push them to share it.
The more you know, the better you’ll be able to deal with your loved ones problems. Remember, knowledge is power. So gather as much information as you can about addiction and how to treat it. Understand how it affects the person and also how it affects you and your family.
Manage your expectations
The unfortunate truth is that very few addicts make it. The vast majority of people with addiction problems never get clean. Even those who kick the habit will relapse over and over again. What this means is that you should manage your expectations. Don’t expect your loved one to get clean immediately. Understand that this is a long process which does not always have a happy ending.
While it is important to support your loved ones if they have a drug addiction, it’s also critically important that you have limits. You need to set boundaries. Anyone who has experience with drug addicts knows that the substance often transforms them into completely different people. Drug addicts will do and say anything to get their fix. They are capable of lying through their teeth and being unbelievably manipulative.
What this means is that you need to set limits. Allowing yourself to be taken advantage of is a bad idea. Enabling them is not going to help the drug addict in your life. Your support needs to be on the condition that they are actually trying to get better. The purpose of your support is to help them, otherwise you will only make their problems worse.