When it comes to living with someone with an addiction, sometimes it is hardest for the family members of the addict. People struggle to find the person they knew before the drug or alcohol addiction took hold. Addicts can be master manipulators, and often, family members have to remind themselves of this to protect themselves from the addict. Addicts will do almost anything to get what they need, whether that is the next bottle or the next fix. When it comes to forming a strategy on how to deal with a family member with an addiction, there are some important points to consider.
While it is extremely painful to see someone you care about suffer, especially if it is your child, it is very important that you do not become an enabler. An enabler is someone who supports the bad or destructive habits of others. Family members often become enablers of the person with the addiction, most often unintentionally. It might start by seeing the person down and out and needing a place to stay. It is brutal to have to turn away someone you love, but sometimes giving them a place to stay is supporting their habit, and the habit is what is doing the most harm. Even loaning money can seem like the most natural thing in the world to do when someone needs it, but when you are dealing with an addict, regardless of what they tell you the money is for, it is most likely going to pay for more alcohol or drugs. The bottom line is that you do not want to become an enabler for the family member with the addiction. Enablers don’t always do it with intention, but what most often happens is the enabler exacerbates the problem by helping foster a situation that supports the addiction, either through money or a place to live.
Most studies of addicts show that many have to hit rock bottom before they realize how serious their problem is and actually have the desire to fix it. No one can make an addict get to this point. Interventions have proven successful in some cases, and for addicts with a large close family support network, this can be a good strategy. Always enlist the help of a professional if you are considering planning an intervention, and also prepare yourself for the fact that it might not work on the first try. Watching some videos about addiction together as a family prior to the intervention is also a good idea so that everyone is prepared and on the same page. Sometimes, as hard as it is, we have to let the one we love hit rock bottom so they feel that drive to improve things.
When it comes to loving a person who struggles with addiction, it is often very hard for the family surrounding the addict to understand. Addictions are not always simple issues; many are rooted in deep psychological wounds that have yet to heal. For family members looking for guidance on how to help an addict, consulting a professional addictions counselor can provide some help and resources.