When someone you’re close to has an addiction, you experience your own struggles. You want to know how you can help while staying emotionally healthy. You and your loved one are both likely to make mistakes, and you’ll need to know how to stay strong from that. Here are some ways to stay emotionally resilient while dealing with your loved one’s addiction.
- Remember the three C’s of addiction
The three C’s, which were originally coined by Alcoholics Anonymous, are especially useful for those whose loved ones are struggling with addiction: You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. That thought might or might not be comforting, depending on how bad the addiction currently is. However, know that you did not cause your loved one’s addiction. You did not force them to be this way, and that is a good starting point.
- Educate yourself
If you are unfamiliar with addiction, now’s the time to start educating yourself on the signs and symptoms of addiction. The Huffington Post shared an article that recommends you do your own research and be wary of advice from well-meaning family or friends. Don’t feel obligated to research the entire history of addiction and drugs, as that can depress you. It’s important to educate yourself so you know what you’re up against and how you can approach a conversation with your loved one.
- Set boundaries
Setting boundaries is not easy or natural, but when your loved one has an addiction, it’s imperative. If your loved one has a tendency for lying and secrecy, let them know in a firm way that you cannot tolerate it. If they continue to exhibit bad behavior or even act dangerously, tell them where your lines are, and do not let them be crossed. It’s not about threats or punishment: it’s about consequences and your own emotional safety.
- Don’t enable
This step goes hand-in-hand with setting boundaries. You will have to be observant with this one. You may have a natural desire to help your loved one, but watch your actions. Are you helping them with something they normally would or could do while sober? If you are trying to protect them from the consequences of their actions, such as bailing them out of jail, giving them money, or letting them stay too long in your personal, private space, you might be enabling them.
- Communicate clearly and lovingly
It is possible to be compassionate and have boundaries at the same time. It’s a tricky dance, but it’s possible. According to Psychology Today, compassion for another person involves listening well, acknowledging their pain, and giving them the affection they need.
Communicate with them clearly. Help them find resources for treatment. There are many options available. They can do inpatient or outpatient treatment, as well as short- or long-term treatment. There are 12-step programs, group or individual counseling, and holistic-based therapy. Research local treatment options together, and help them see that it’s up to them to find a program that matches their needs.
- Keep your own life going
Don’t put your life on hold just because someone you love has an addiction. You are not solely responsible for them—they are. You do not have to do all the emotional labor of the relationship and bear an extra burden in your life. Take time for yourself, give yourself space, and do things that make you happy. It’s still your life.
If necessary, consider seeing a counselor or therapist. Sometimes, it helps to talk to an unbiased third party who can help you see things clearly and help you come to terms with your current situation.
Addiction is tough for everyone involved. You don’t have to bear this burden alone, and remember that you did not cause it. You can’t control it, and you can’t cure it. However, you can be there as a compassionate friend and support your loved one through the good and the bad.
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