Addiction to drugs or alcohol can have a huge impact, both on the person suffering with the addiction and on their family. Once someone going through addiction decides that it is time to start the road to recovery, it often becomes a family affair. Family members worry about their loved one and get anxious about how that person will pay their bills, find a job, and get control of their addiction. Most of all, family members want to help in any way they can. Sometimes, however, the help that is given with the best of intentions can actually make the recovery process harder. Here are four things to keep in mind as you consider how you can best help someone you love as they work through addiction recovery.
1. Get Educated
Now is the time to learn all you can about addiction. There are plenty of books and resources out there. In fact, organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous and other recovery groups often hold family meetings where the addict and their family are invited to attend together. This can be an eye opening experience for family members and a great way to learn the facts.
2. Tighten Your Purse Strings
Although it can be very difficult to watch someone you love struggle through addiction recovery, it is best if you allow them the space to struggle without you coming to the rescue. This is their battle. By paying bills, buying groceries, or filling up their tank with gas, you are allowing your loved one to avoid some of the consequences of their addiction. If they are going to make this important change, they need to see the true effects of addiction.
3. Don’t Overanalyze
It can be so tempting to try to figure out why this is happening, what the family could have done differently to make it so this addiction problem never materialized. This is especially this case for parents who will go through a period of guilt, wondering what they could have done better as their child was growing up. However, this overanalyzing is not going to help at this point. You need to accept that addiction is a disease and then move on to actions that are actually helpful. Don’t get stuck in “analysis paralysis,” a term often used in addiction recovery programs.
4. Don’t Plan Your Life around the Addiction
This is another area where the best of intentions can actually end up prolonging the cycles of addiction. In our efforts to make living with addiction more comfortable, we often end up accommodating the disease and prolonging it. Examples of this include locking up money and valuables, never inviting guests over because you’re worried about an embarrassing incident occurring, or working your schedule around being home with your loved one or driving them all over town. You need to remember to live your own life, even while you’re helping a loved one through addiction recovery. This will encourage them to get their own life back on track and will really highlight the changes that they need to make to live a normal life. Although these suggestions might sound harsh, they really are the actions that will help your loved one work through this important recovery process.