When a loved one is experiencing a problem, our first instinct is always to help. If you know someone who lost a parent, you send over a casserole, prepare meals or send a message of sympathy to show how much you care. If you know someone who lost a job, you contact them with a lead on a new one. If you know someone whose pet ran away from home, you organize a search party. But when that loved one’s problem involves alcohol or drugs, offering help becomes a lot more complicated. It is difficult to know how to help your friend or family member without enabling them. You do not want to condone their drug or alcohol use. But at the same time, you do not want them to feel judged or abandoned, and you want them to know how much you care. Luckily, there are ways to help without enabling individuals who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Take Stock in Yourself First, before you reach out to your loved one, do a quick self-check to make sure you are ready to offer assistance. Make sure you are not engaging in self-blame for your loved one’s problems. Remember, addiction is a disease and no one is immune from it. You can offer help but you cannot “cure” someone else’s problems yourself. Beware of Enabling Behavior Helping is not enabling. By offering your loved one support or love, you are not enabling their addiction. You are showing them someone cares enough to look out for them. However, you do need to make sure you are not engaging in enabling behavior, such as:
- Allowing them to use drugs or alcohol in your house or in your presence, despite previous requests to stop
- Financing their addiction
- Ignoring consequences of their addiction
- Covering up an addiction to others
- Giving fourth, fifth, or sixth chances
- Indulging in risky behavior with your loved one
If you recognize yourself in any of these behaviors, do not beat yourself up. Instead, make an effort to change the way you deal with your loved one so you can help instead of enable. How to Help an Addict There are so many ways to help an addict. Here are just a few ideas:
- Listen to their problems: Many individuals who struggle with addiction could use a sympathetic ear.
- Encourage them to go to rehab: Entering a facility with a great staff that has experience with helping people who abuse drugs or alcohol is the best way to get on the path to recovery.
- Support their rehab efforts financially: The Ranch PA accepts insurance, but many rehab facilities do not. Other close family and friends may also want to pitch in.