by Restorations Therapy Center on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019
Having a loved one with a substance use disorder is never easy. Addiction changes your behavior, changes your priorities, and makes you do things you would otherwise never do. You might not even recognize your loved one anymore and you may feel powerless to help. Here are some tips to cope with a loved one’s addiction.
This is not to say that having a substance use disorder makes you a dangerous person. It’s just to say that substance use can impair your judgment and lead to erratic or risky behavior. It also leads you to associate with people you might normally avoid. For those reasons, a loved one’s addiction may bring extra risk into your life. Remember your safety is most important. If your loved one becomes violent, endangering herself or others, call the police. If your loved one is staying with you, be sure to set and enforce clear boundaries, including who she is allowed to bring into your house.
Once your safety is assured, the the best thing you can do for your loved one is encourage her to get treatment. It’s important to go about this in the right way. No one likes to feel judged or lectured at, and that’s especially true of someone with a substance use disorder, who might already feel intense shame. The best thing to do is share your concerns and then listen. Anything you say should come from a place of love and not judgment or criticism.
You no doubt want to help your loved one as much as possible and the best way to do that is by encouraging treatment, not by covering her mistakes or giving her money. Money is likely to just go drugs and alcohol and even money you give indirectly, by paying rent or bills, for example, just frees up her own money to feed her addiction. The same is true of taking over her responsibilities. It’s understandable you want to help her out, but shielding her from the consequences of her addiction only makes it worse. You can give her a place to stay and take care of her if you’re worried about her safety, but as noted above, be sure to set clear boundaries.
Having a loved one with a substance use disorder is stressful. You worry about the next crisis all the time. As with any other kind of stress, it’s important to manage this stress and worry by taking care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep, try to eat healthy, and exercise regularly. Find time to relax every day.
Seeing a therapist can also help you deal with the stress and anxiety of having a loved one with addiction. A therapist can help you develop healthy coping strategies and better ways of communicating. Family therapy can indirectly help your loved one, even if she doesn’t participate.
Finally, consider seeking support in the form of a support group like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, which are for families of people with substance use disorders. Any social support is good, but these groups are full of people who know what you’re going through and can offer help and advice.
Located in Centennial, Colorado, Restoration Therapy works with patients who are struggling with addiction, intimacy disorders, and trauma who are seeking treatment. In order to offer patients a more holistic view on a healthy sexuality, Restoration Therapy offers individualized and group therapy, workshops, psycho-educational classes, and more to restore the harm brought on by addiction and intimacy issues. For more information, please call us at (720) 446-6585 as we are open Monday through Friday from 8am to 8pm.