How Families Can Address a Family Member’s Addiction
You’ve heard it before, probably on TV or online: “Let an addict hit rock bottom.” This outdated advice often terrifies family members who worry that “bottom” for their loved one could be a jail sentence, an overdose, or even death. While it is a challenging task to convince she or he needs professional help to overcome their substance abuse problem, many families learn effective, non-confrontational techniques to do so. It just takes a little patience and research into the mind of someone that abuses substance.
Of course, many family members who have been manipulated for money, a place to stay, or food, often feel angry and resentful of being deceived and used. When families learn to protect themselves from further mistreatment and foster a recovery-focused view rather than enablement, people with addiction often start to come around to the idea of seeking treatment. For example, you may offer to drive your family member to a group support meeting, help arrange their health insurance for detox, or simply sitting down for a heartfelt talk are all effective, yet not forms of enablement. By contrast, doling out cash or allowing your family member to stay under your roof – even offering to pay for rehab – can all make families feel mistreated.
Do Addiction Interventions Work?
Another outdated piece of advice is that you must trick your loved one who abuses drugs to partake in a sneak-attack intervention. This is hardly the only way to confront a person suffering, and it can even be counterproductive and create hostility between them and his or her family. Rather than staging an intervention, family and friends can learn ways to approach the person suffering with substance use disorder in a non-confrontational and more effective way.
Approaching Your Loved One About Their Drug Use
While you should be compassionate in approaching your loved one, make sure you remain realistic about the dangers of continued drug abuse. Do not attempt to strongarm your family member to get help, but offer respectful pressure to seek treatment. It will be received better than demands or directives. Your attitude should be more along the lines of “we are together, and we’ll get through this as a team” rather than “just say ‘no!’” Emphasize your family member’s possible motivations to get sober, such as fostering a better relationship to his or her children, rather than your own.
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