An addiction destroys families as much as it destroys the addict. Living with an addict is both heartbreaking and exhausting. Education, counseling, and support groups can help you realize that you are not alone, that you are not responsible for the drinking or drug use, and that you need to take care of yourself, regardless of whether the person you are concerned about chooses to get help.

Things You Can Do For Yourself

  • Take care of yourself. Living with an addict is exhausting. You also need time to recover.
  • Avoid self-blame. You can’t control another person’s decisions, and you can’t force them to change.
  • Being a caretaker is not good for you or the addict. Understand that there is only so much you can do to change another person.
  • Ask for help. Talk to a professional. Go to a support group.
  • Do not argue or try to discuss things with the addict when they are under the influence. It won’t get you anywhere.
  • If at all possible, try not to be negative when dealing with the addict. That may only increase their feelings of guilt and push them further into using.

You might think that you are helping someone overcome a drug addiction, but are you really? Only the person using alcohol or drugs can make a decision to get help, but you can help create the conditions to encourage change. This can be especially difficult for parents  when a child has addiction. Seeking help and support on your own can encourage interest in treatment or self-help. Look at treatment options together and express your belief that treatment will work.

Things You Can Do For the Addict

  • Educate yourself about addiction and recovery.
  • Try not to accuse or judge. This is difficult for both you and the addict.
  • Provide a sober environment that reduces triggers for using.
  • Do not enable. Do not provide excuses or cover up for the addict.
  • Do not shield the addict from the consequences of their addiction. People are more likely to change if they’ve suffered enough negative consequences.
  • Set boundaries. The goal is to improve the health of the family as a whole. Do not use boundaries to punish or shame.
  • If you want to provide financial support, buy the goods and services the addict needs instead of giving them money.
  • Recognize and acknowledge the potential the addict has within them.
  • Behave exactly as you would if your loved one had a serious illness. What would you do if they were diagnosed with heart disease or cancer?