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Written by Brandon Okey. Mina Draskovic, B.Psy., reviewed this content for accuracy.

Do you know someone who is struggling with addiction and needs help? Addiction is not something you can quickly recover from; it’s classified as a disease that requires professional treatment. In today’s blog, we’re diving deeper into what addiction is and how it’s treated. Here are ten tips for helping your family member struggling with addiction.
  1. Learn What Addiction Is

To help a loved one struggling with addiction, it’s essential to understand how they get to that point. If you don’t know what addiction is, it’s difficult to know how to help. It’s not nearly as simple as we wish it were. Addiction is commonly confused with substance abuse, but it’s different. Substance abuse is misusing a substance such as a prescription drug, over-the-counter medication, or illegal drug. Substance abuse can lead to addiction, but it doesn’t always. It’s possible to get it under control before it turns into an addiction.  Addiction takes things to a whole new level. It’s usually accompanied by another disorder, such as depression, anxiety, or a mental health disorder. When a person is addicted to something, they have a need for it that goes beyond getting “high”; their body develops a dependence on it. This is known as a physical addiction. But dependence can also be psychological, where the addict’s mind craves the addiction. Both types of addictions are dangerous and require professional treatment.
  1. Support Without Enablin

It’s essential to support your loved one without enabling them. Did you know that it’s possible to enable an addict without even trying to? Simply allowing that person to live with you while they are addicted can be enabling. Making excuses for why your loved one is an addict is another enabling behavior.   So, how do you not enable them? It may be challenging, but you have to take away excuses and enabling behavior. This will look different for everyone; it could mean not allowing them to live with you if they don’t get help. Or, it could look like not providing them with access to their addiction. Consider your situation with your loved one and think about what that might look like for you
  1. Don’t Give Out Mone

It might seem like an easy solution, but it’s not. An addict will often lie about needing money for essential things when, in reality, they need more money to fund their addiction. When an addiction reaches homeostasis, it turns into a need for survival. So, instead of giving your loved one money, find a way to instead give them what they need. Directly pay a bill for them. Place a mobile food order for them. Take them grocery shopping. The idea is for the money to go directly to the source. If it doesn’t go through your loved one, they can’t use it to fuel their addiction.
  1. Set Appropriate Boundaries for the Right Reason

It might seem like common sense, but it’s easy to become so invested in your family member’s recovery that you neglect yourself. That’s why it’s imperative to set and keep boundaries.  It’s tough to set boundaries with someone you love when you can see how much they’re suffering. But it’s a necessary step on the road to getting them help. Not setting boundaries is another form of enabling their behavior, so it’s critical that you set boundaries and stick to them. Don’t set unrealistic boundaries that no one can live up to; that will only aggravate the situation. Set boundaries that you know you can keep, and make sure you stick to them. Not sticking to them will make them meaningless.  For example, you might need some quiet time to yourself before bedtime. This could mean saying goodnight and not seeing them again until the next day. Not monitoring them might be difficult for you, but it could also be essential. It would be best to have a “why” behind your boundaries. Are your limits in place to prevent you from enabling their behavior? Are your boundaries for your sanity? You want your “why” to be about helping you help them.
  1. Take Care of Yoursel

To take care of someone else, you must first care for yourself. It’s a simple principle, but it can be hard to apply to everyday life, especially if the situation seems dire—however, your emotional health and well-being matter.  Make sure you’re sleeping at night, taking time for self-care, and building a support network to get through this challenging time. Therapy and support groups are also available for family members of addicts and have been proven to be very effective.
  1. Keep Living Your Life

It’s easy to let your family member’s addiction consume you. It can happen all too easily. That is part of why establishing boundaries is crucial. You can set limits for yourself that will help you live your life apart from theirs. Separating yourself from the addiction will help you get through it. Simple things like going to work, making plans with a friend, or going to an activity will help you cope with the situation. 
  1. Don’t Lecture, Guilt, or Intimidate

You wouldn’t lecture, guilt-trip, or intimidate someone diagnosed with cancer. You would encourage them to seek out treatment so they could get better. Like cancer, addiction requires treatment, so being subjected to lectures about how bad addiction is won’t help. It can cause resentment, anger, and a host of other issues. Being guilted or intimidated into getting help is not the solution. Your loved one might not yet realize that they have a problem and need help. Or, they might not be ready to acknowledge that they have a problem. Lectures, guilt, and intimidation could lead them to self-medicate and dive deeper into their addiction. The opposite behaviors are what will help. Kindness, care, and empathy will show the addict your love and care. 
  1. Look for Professional Help for Them

At some point, your loved one will hopefully realize they need help. They might come to you because they don’t know where to start or because they don’t have the energy to look for it themselves.  Sometimes, when an addict is ready for help, they want you to take their hand and lead them to help. Because of this, we recommend looking for professional treatment for them. Immediately having a resource once they’re ready for help will make the process easier.  It’s important not to bring resources to them until they come to you for help. If they’re not ready for help, they won’t think they need it. It could make things worse, and we don’t want that!
  1. Encourage Them to Look for Help

While you shouldn’t bring a resource straight to your loved one, you should encourage them to seek help. All the steps leading to this one should help with this. Hopefully, they will trust you if you’ve established your love and care for them. That love and care should naturally lead to encouragement.  Plus, when you’re taking care of yourself and living your life, it will be easier for you to provide that encouragement without being overbearing or making decisions for them. They have to want the help for it to work.
  1. Don’t Disappear When They Go to Reha

An addict needs a support system just as much in rehab as before. Knowing that you love and support them will help them stick with it on hard days. If you go to group therapy for your own support, it’s essential to keep going, even when your loved one gets the help they need. Following through on all of your steps will help them follow through on all of theirs. There are often deep-rooted problems that run in families of addicts. Working to break down and resolve those problems will help your loved one fully recover from their addiction. It will also help them stay away from relapsing.

Ardu Recovery Center

As we mentioned at the beginning of this blog, addiction is classified as a disease requiring professional treatment. If your loved one needs help, consider Ardu Recovery Center for their treatment. Based in northern Utah near Salt Lake City, we provide comprehensive, inpatient addiction recovery services that utilize traditional medicine and holistic approaches.  We believe in healing every part of an addiction, not just surface-level symptoms. If you need more information or have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help your loved one recover from their addiction.
Brandon Okey

Brandon Okey is the co-founder of Ardu Recovery Center and is dedicated to empowering people on their journey to sobriety.