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Helping Your Loved One Through Addiction

This weeks post is from our guest contributor Bethany Hatton.

Helping Your Loved One Through Addiction

It’s difficult watching a loved one suffering from addiction. While you want to reach out and help them, you must make sure that you are reaching them in the right way. It’s also critical to take care of yourself and remember that the road to recovery lies in their hands. Let’s discover what practical steps you can take.

Before Approaching Your Loved One

You may know for certain that your loved one has a substance use problem or you may just suspect it. Before approaching him, be sure that you are on the right track and that there is not another issue that should be addressed.  Check out the signs of alcoholism from Healthline.

Mental health issues such as anxiety, trauma and depression can co-occur with drug and alcohol addiction. Each of these should be treated. Read more about other conditions that can co-occur with addiction in this guide from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

You may also have been told to avoid your addicted loved one. While that is appropriate in certain situations, it might not be the entire story. Psychology Today explores how having compassion doesn’t mean you are “codependent” or “enabling.” The author instead sees compassion as a way to empower you to help your loved one. Only you know the right answer to this question but certainly get away if your life or health is at risk.

How To Approach Your Loved One

Once you are certain there is a problem, it’s time to decide how to approach them. Very Well Mind has a detailed article on steps to take, including:

  1. Establishing trust,

  2. Communicating the problem, and

  3. Getting them into the treatment process.

You should also expect to experience difficulties. The person might be resistant to admitting they have a problem or to getting help but you also shouldn’t wait until they “hit bottom.” Read more guidelines on helping someone you love from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction.

Finally, be careful of how you talk to this person. Express love and concern, not condemnation. Here are 11 things you should not to say to an addict from The Fix.

Taking Care of Yourself

It’s important that while you are seeking help for your loved one, you are also taking care of yourself. Encounters can be strained and stressful, even as he moves into and through recovery. You may experience resentment and hostility. Read these top 10 survival tips for loving an addicted person from a registered clinical counselor.

Depending on your relationship, you might also want to seek counseling for yourself to make sure you are practicing and managing your own self-care.

Programs For Addiction Treatment

Today, there are numerous treatment programs available to help your loved one. Each will appeal to someone different. They include:

  1. 12-step programs, such as AA and NA, which have the longest history of treatment.

  2. Religious-based treatment, such as the Teen Challenge, which is Christian-based, or Buddhist Recovery.

  3. Holistic programs that emphasize treating the mind, body, and spirit. These can include therapy, fitness, nutrition, mindfulness and more.

  4. Secular programs that focus on self-empowerment such as SMART Recovery and Moderation Management.

  5. Evidence-based programs like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Learn more about finding the right program from this post at the New York Times.

You also might want to consider a program called Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT). According to the Center for Motivation and Change’s website, this program “teaches family and friends effective strategies for helping their loved one to change and for feeling better themselves. CRAFT works to affect the loved one’s behavior by changing the way the family interacts with him or her.” This is a recovery route that supports the whole family.

Helping a loved through addiction is a compassionate response to a difficult problem. Be sure to take the right steps and take care of yourself as you do.


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