When someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, it can feel as if your whole world is crumbling down. As their addiction progresses, you stop living your life. You worry about them constantly — you can’t sleep, you can’t focus, and your heart stops every time the phone rings. The fear of losing them consumes you, and your focus becomes doing anything and everything you can to help them get better. Dealing with a loved one’s addiction is not easy but keeping the following things in mind will help you better address your loved one’s alcohol and drug abuse.
When Dealing with Your Loved One’s Addiction, Always Remember:
You Can’t Control It
You may feel as if you are not doing enough to help your loved one, but it’s important for you to understand that no matter how hard you try, you cannot control their addiction. No amount of begging, pleading, threatening, or ultimatums will make your loved one stop drinking or using, at least not permanently. The desire to get better must come from them. Accepting this can be difficult — it can feel selfish or as if you’re giving up on them — but understanding that you are only in control of your life is necessary for you to embark on your own journey of healing.
Whether you realize it or not, your loved one’s addiction is taking a toll on your life. And it’s important for you to start making yourself a priority. While you may be tempted to make it your mission to save your loved one from themselves, this will only leave you exhausted, hurt, and maybe even resentful. Until your loved one is ready to get help, all you can do is be there for them. Be sure to let them know that you love them and that you will help them when they are ready.
You Didn’t Cause it
You probably never imagined that addiction would become a part of your life, but it has. And you may be wondering if you are responsible for your loved one’s use. Did you not love them enough? Too much? Was it something you said? Did? Didn’t do? The questions are endless, and they can drive you mad, but the truth is that you didn’t cause your loved one to drink or use — even if they blame you for it.
Your loved one didn’t become addicted because you had a bad fight and they had a few drinks after. Or because you couldn’t provide them with everything they wanted. There are countless factors behind why someone becomes addicted and another person doesn’t — biology, environment, and mental health all play a role. The underlying cause for their addiction may not be clear to you. They may be dealing with trauma that you’re unaware of, or having difficulty managing their emotions. Regardless of what’s behind their addiction, remember that you are not responsible, and allowing unwarranted guilt to consume you will only end up hurting you and your loved one.
You Don’t Have to Let it Take Over Your Life
Addiction is a family disease, so it is normal for your loved one’s addiction to have an impact on your life. However, this doesn’t mean that you should allow it to consume your every moment. As challenging as it may be, you need to set boundaries. Whether it’s not giving them any more money, refusing to engage with them when they’re under the influence, or establishing a curfew, boundaries help you and your loved one know what is and isn’t acceptable. And while it may take a few tries, you can find a balance between helping your loved one and taking care of yourself. Know that you should never feel guilty for doing what is right for you, even if it upsets your loved one. Just be sure that your decisions come from a place of love rather than anger or fear.
You Shouldn’t Lose Hope
Watching your loved one tackle addiction day after day is incredibly taxing. It can be particularly difficult if your loved one has tried to get sober before but continues to relapse. But it’s important to hold on to hope no matter how many setbacks your loved one experiences. When getting sober seems like an impossible feat to them, they need to know that you believe they can do it. If you lose hope, they might too, and their chances of ever getting better significantly diminish.
While dealing with a loved one’s addiction can feel isolating, know that you are not alone and that there are resources available to you. If you’re looking for support, guidance, or simply someone to talk to, consider attending a Nar-Anon meeting.