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Watching a loved one struggling with drug or alcohol addiction can be devastating. It’s difficult to come to terms with reality, and you might feel confused, angry, and heartbroken. But you need to stay calm and not panic if you don’t want to make it worse for your loved one – they may already be miserable and on the verge of losing hope.

Recovery is a challenging, lifelong process that often requires constant support and encouragement from loved ones. If not handled carefully, addiction problems can crush the most stable relationships.

So, if someone you love needs help, you’d want to be prepared to support them on the journey of recovery while ensuring your efforts aren’t wasted.

Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes to this problem—but there are things that you can do that might help. Below are some tips on how to help a loved one successfully get past addiction.

1. Educate Yourself about Their Addiction

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Unless you’ve dealt with drug or alcohol addiction, you only know what you see. You might know the basics, but you can only truly help your loved one overcome their struggles when you step into their shoes.

Thankfully, several educational resources on the internet and in public libraries can help you better understand what your loved one is going through. You can also look up how to become a addiction counselor on any popular search engine to learn more about addiction, counseling, and helping a loved one who needs support.

In that capacity, you’ll be able to explore the root cause of their addiction and determine the severity of the problem by identifying the critical signs/triggers. You can also assist your loved one in developing positive skills, behaviors, and habits that make it easier to cope with challenging situations.

As they say, knowledge is power – the more you know about addiction and how it works, the easier it will be for you to stay calm and help a loved one progress with their recovery.

2. Tell Them You’ve Got Their Back

As overwhelming and intimidating as talking to your loved one about their addiction problem can be, you can’t avoid it. The sooner you have that conversation, the better.

Of course, you can seek a professional’s advice before confronting your loved one if you’re too confused about how you’ll break the ice. Otherwise, writing down essential pointers of what you want to say before the conversation will help.

Remember, making your loved one feel hurt, guilty, or scared isn’t the purpose here, as it’ll only aggravate the situation.

Creating a safe space where the addict can be honest and vulnerable will improve their willingness to get treatment and return to sobriety. You want to ensure they realize they have a problem and feel comfortable sharing the details.

Most importantly, you should tell them that you’re there to help and support them no matter what happens.

3. Encourage Them to Get Professional Help

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Depending on the severity of the addiction, you’d want your loved one to seek professional help or join a rehab center.

Make sure you intervene with compassion and empathy, so they don’t feel like you blame them or are frustrated with dealing with their problems. Be patient while explaining the negative consequences of addiction and how a professional can help.

You should also be persistent in convincing them to let a professional help if they come up with excuses to avoid getting treatment or deny having a problem altogether. Why? Because sometimes, intervention becomes necessary if the addict refuses treatment despite a severe addiction problem. You can consult with an intervention specialist to help you with it.

That said, don’t forget that the decision to consult a professional should solely be theirs. Forcing your loved one to quit by giving ultimatums won’t cut it. Even if you force them to get into a rehab center, there’s no guarantee they’ll stop.

When your loved one is willing to change their circumstance, you should research treatment approaches and connect with a reputable professional who can provide tailored solutions to help beat addiction.

Furthermore, it’ll be best if you can accompany your loved one to their appointments in the initial days and help them with anything else (for example, transportation or taking care of their child) to ensure they remain steadfast on the recovery journey.

4. Establish Boundaries and Stop Enabling Their Addiction

Watching a loved one struggle with addiction is difficult. You’d want to do everything you can do to reduce, if not end, their suffering, but establishing some boundaries is critical. Remember, there’s a fine line between supporting a loved one struggling with addiction and enabling them. The latter hinders recovery by reinforcing negative behaviors.

You must avoid the following:

  • Excusing their behavior and mistakes
  • Giving them money
  • Lying or covering for them
  • Be readily available to bail them out of trouble

These actions will only enable your loved one to continue consuming alcohol or drugs, making a recovery difficult. Sticking to your guns will be challenging, but you mustn’t forget that it’s for their own good. You must sit down with them and establish boundaries to avoid this mistake.

5. Take Care of Yourself

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Supporting an addict on the recovery journey can be exhausting. It’s easy to forget about your health and well-being when you see a loved one struggling with something as serious as addiction. However, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to help them.

You may not realize it, but the stress caused by their issues will soon translate into resentment, frustration, and strain, resulting in snarky comments or occasional lashing out at the addict.

Please don’t think taking care of your mental health is selfish. In addition to eating healthy, maintaining a proper sleep schedule, exercising, and doing things you enjoy, counseling and support groups can help you stay grounded and ensure you’re in the best position to help your loved one.

Concluding Thoughts

Addiction can ruin your loved one’s life, and battling it is no easy feat. Your encouragement, support, and care can make all the difference on their recovery journey.

While it’s hard to accept the addiction struggles of a close friend or family member, you shouldn’t blame or resent them for falling into the trap. Take the time to learn about addiction, its dangers, and treatment approaches.

Stop enabling the addict and convince them to get professional help. Many people go the extra mile and enroll in a counseling addiction program to better assist their loved ones on the recovery journey. You can do the same to positively channel your energy to making your loved one’s recovery as smooth as possible.