6 Things to Try Before Giving Up on a Loved One With Addiction

Addiction can turn someone you love into someone you resent. In addition to ruining their own lives, the family can be devastated by the lies and destructive behaviors of this “stranger” in their house.

You’ve tried talking. You’ve set rules. You’ve explored drug rehab options, but your loved one insists they aren’t like “those people” in treatment. They aren’t that bad. When you’ve reached the limit of what you can take, what are your options? Here are a few things to try before you give up hope:

#1 Family Therapy

Before you tell a loved one who is abusing alcohol or other drugs that they need to find another place to live, try to get the entire family into therapy. Your loved one may have refused individual therapy, which they’d get at a drug rehab, but might be open to trying to iron things out in another way. Family therapy is powerful because it works on many levels. It can focus on individual family members, the causes and consequences of drug use, as well as education about the disease of addiction. And there is no predetermined definition for who may be involved. Family therapy can include friends and coworkers, even a clergy member.

#2 Support Groups

In lieu of drug rehab, you can make a requirement for living at home regular participation in a self-help group like a 12-step or SMART Recovery program. You can set an example by attending Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings. People credit these fellowship groups with saving their sanity and, in many cases, their lives.

#3 Outpatient Treatment

Another option when you’re looking at how to help an addict would be an outpatient drug rehab program. This is not the way to go with someone who has a severe or long-term addiction, but it can be a useful first step and can be especially effective for those with milder problems who have a good support network and have begun to experience the consequences of substance abuse. Another benefit is that it allows people to continue working and keep up with other responsibilities.

#4 A Sober Role Model

You might also try to get someone you know in recovery to speak to your loved one. Most people know someone who has had a problem with alcohol or other drugs. A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 44% of Americans personally know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers. When you account for the individuals abusing other addictive drugs, the odds are high that you can find a recovering addict to advise your loved one. Whether that’s an uncle, a friend, a colleague or a neighbor, anyone who has been through addiction and is now enjoying a healthy life in recovery may, by example alone, be able to convince your loved one to seek help. They can carry a lot of weight and perhaps get the person at least thinking about the benefits of getting sober.

#5 Intervention

A drug intervention is often a last-ditch effort by family members to get someone into treatment. There are entire books written on the subject, but here are some basic rules. First, put together a solid plan. Decide who will be there, what they will say and set a time to rehearse the conversation. The point is for the addict to hear how they are hurting themselves and how their behavior has affected family and friends.

You should also strongly consider hiring a professional interventionist to help guide the process. Things can get heated as emotions bubble up and you’ll want someone there who can help defuse any anger and get the intervention back on track. Once the team is formed, you’ll need to decide on the consequences should your loved one refuse treatment. Finding another place to live is often number one on that list.

If the drug intervention is successful and your loved one agrees to enter drug rehab, know that their first attempt at sobriety may not be successful. Relapse is common, even likely. So don’t give up on them if they slip.

#6 Love Without Enabling

Continued love is another way to help a substance abuser. Many people in recovery implore families to never give up on their loved one. You need to keep healthy boundaries, of course, but even if a family member isn’t ready to quit, that doesn’t mean you must stop loving them. Make arrangements for them to live elsewhere so they won’t be left homeless. Don’t give them cash, but buy them a meal (which gives you a chance to stay in touch and ask if they may now be ready to get clean). That kind of support can teach the addict that they are worthy of love despite their choices, which in turn can encourage them to start loving themselves and seek help.

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