It’s not always easy to show unconditional love to someone who is struggling with addiction. How do you keep pushing forward and care for the addict when things are so difficult? When is it time to finally detach and let go? As someone you care about deeply is in the pits of addiction, you inevitably are forced through a challenging time in your life as well. The following 6 steps are meant to help you help your loved one in the most healthy way possible.
1. Accept reality.
You must accept the reality that your loved one has an addiction. No matter how much you want him or her to get better, the reality is that it may not happen right now. It may also be helpful to take a look at your life to see how this has affected you. Do you find yourself constantly walking around egg shells to try to maintain peace at home? Perhaps you are drinking or engaging in other addictive behaviors as well. As you accept your loved one’s reality, take the time assess your own.
2. Set firm boundaries.
Many people tend to have difficulty setting boundaries with their loved ones, which doesn’t help the addict’s situation. Instead, it enables them to continue using drugs without any consequences. Learn how to be assertive and set firm and loving boundaries. You can start by letting them know you deserve a certain level of respect and should not be verbally abused or lied to. Most importantly, stop enabling your addicted loved one by giving him money or a place to stay when he has exhausted all of his own resources for drugs. Take the time to have a serious conversation with your loved one and lay down basic ground rules.
3. Beware of manipulation.
Addicts don’t like to be told no, so many have become master manipulators to try to get their way. Be on guard against their manipulation. Your loved one may start lying, give you a guilt trip, become angry or start blaming you for his problems, but be sure to hold your ground and stay firm with the boundaries you have set.
4. Admit to your own faults.
It’s possible to be in a situation where you may be addicted to enabling your loved one. You may say or do things that the addict wants to hear so he or she will feel better—but it’s not actually helping. Enabling can make you feel like you’re filling a void in your loved one’s life, when it may actually be your own. This is something you must admit and be willing to address in order for both you and your loved one to grow.
5. Tend to yourself.
You can love your loved one by rebuilding your life the way that makes you feel peaceful and happy. If you’re stressed out all the time, you’re not fully able to be the best for your loved one. Work on yourself and getting your life in order. Perhaps you can shift your focus on building your career. Invest in yourself and aim for the rewarding life you can have with family and friends.
6. Ask for help.
Sometimes, our loved ones can drain us of energy and we can get worn down trying to care for them. This doesn’t do you or your loved one any good. If you’re completely overwhelmed, know that it is OK to reach out for professional help. After all, you may be going through a lot of anxiety and negative emotions. There are also support groups available for the loved ones of addicts so that you can be sure to address your own needs—mentally, physically and emotionally.