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How to Support Loved Ones Struggling with Addiction

How to Support Loved Ones Struggling with Addiction

You can’t force your loved one to stop their substance abuse or get treatment. You can only stay positive and make sure they know you’re there to help when they’re ready. But that’s not easy to do when you live with the struggles and emotional upheaval of a loved one’s addiction.

As an addiction and family medicine specialist, David Leszkowitz, DO, at White Lake Family Medicine understands your challenges. His experienced team helps you navigate a path that supports your loved one while protecting your health and well-being. They also provide addiction treatment for outpatients when the time is right to detox and recover.

Here are five tips for supporting people with addiction:

Seek help for yourself

When you live with an addict, life gets unpredictable and incredibly difficult. Family members are at risk of problems such as psychological wounds, trauma, fatigue, financial problems, isolation from others outside the family, and in some cases, physical abuse.

You can’t support the person who’s addicted if you’re stressed and worn out. It’s essential to protect your mental and physical health. Our medical and addiction specialists can help with every area, teaching about addiction, helping you find ways to manage life, and providing guidance along with preventive health care. 

Remain compassionate and nonjudgmental

As you deal with chaotic behavior and daily stress, you will understandably have times when you can’t cope and get angry. However, the best way to support a loved one struggling with an addiction is to stay patient, compassionate, and nonjudgmental.

It’s easier to do that when you learn about addiction and how it controls their life. It helps to remember that addiction is a chronic brain disease that compels your loved one to do things they may not want to do.

By definition, an addiction renders them incapable of dealing with the intense cravings and withdrawal. They’re not addicted because they lack willpower; they have a disease and deserve the same compassion as any other person with a chronic illness.

The more understanding you are now, the more they’ll trust you to support them during their detox and recovery. Don’t blame them for their addiction and rant about the problems they cause the family. Instead, keep encouraging your loved one, stay positive, and plant seeds of hope for their future recovery.

Don’t enable your loved one

Staying positive and encouraging doesn’t mean enabling their addiction. You shouldn’t try to protect them and their behaviors even though it’s scary to leave them on their own, not knowing what will happen. But the more they’re forced to face the consequences, the more likely they are to seek help.

Set healthy boundaries

The boundaries you set depend on who is addicted (and their relationship to you), their age, your financial well-being, and other personal variables. In other words, setting boundaries isn’t easy — and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach you can follow — but they’re still essential for your safety and well-being.

Creating boundaries gives you the ability to take care of yourself and your loved one without putting yourself in harm’s way or suffering excessive anxiety or burn-out. We can help if you need guidance about deciding which line to draw and how to enforce boundaries.

Learn about treatment options

Many people don’t realize that a person who’s addicted can safely detox and recover as an outpatient. We provide medication-assisted treatment (MAT) where we prescribe medications they can take at home while monitoring their progress with regular appointments.

You can support your loved one by talking with them about their outpatient options and offering to come with them to their first consultation.

If they resist treatment, you may want to consider an intervention. This is a structured process in which we meet with your loved one and family members (plus friends, if desired). Everyone talks about the damaging effects of their loved one’s addiction on the family and asks them to get addiction treatment.

Any time you have questions or need support for dealing with an addicted family member or loved one, call White Lake Family Medicine or request an appointment online.

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