Watching your loved one run amuck on the road of addiction is a difficult thing to do. It's hard to witness him or her suffer from all the pain lying underneath the addiction, constantly battling in the darkness day-to-day. Along the way, you’ve most likely helped when he or she got into trouble, ran out of money or needed a place to stay. After all, it’s hard to just stand by and let your loved one suffer terrible consequences for his or her addictive behaviors.
Despite the pain and turmoil you feel when it comes to your loved one’s addiction, there are many therapists who say that they must be allowed to hit rock bottom no matter how painful it is. In fact, it may actually be necessary for your loved one to fall and have no one there to pick him or her up.
A Different Kind of Love
One of the reasons you should hold off on helping your loved one is the fact that they may not even think they need addiction treatment if you’re always to the rescue. For example, let’s say your loved one ends up in jail because of substance abuse. You run down there, bail him out and let him stay with you since he lost his apartment because he couldn't afford rent. You do all of this from the goodness of your heart and in hopes that he will stop abusing drugs and alcohol.
Unfortunately, that is rarely the message received. For the most part, the loved one goes right back to abusing drugs and the disease of addiction lives on. Instead of helping, you’re actually enabling him to continue using. No matter how difficult it is to show tough love in this situation, it is absolutely necessary.
The First Step: Detachment
At some point, it’s important to detach from your loved one’s life and addiction. It’s not easy but you can do this by sitting down and initiating a serious conversation. There are a few things to cover:
- Let him know that you are not lending him any more money.
- Tell him he cannot stay at your house anymore.
- Assure him that you will not bail him out of jail if he ends up there.
- Tell him that you love him but you are not going to enable him in any way anymore.
- Let him know that you believe he has a drug or alcohol addiction and point him in the direction of treatment and then detach with a loving spirit.
Most likely, your loved one will have to hit rock bottom before he or she really understands his need for help.
Stand Your Ground
Through this process, be prepared to receive phone calls, texts and visits from your loved one practically begging you for money, food, the car, shelter and so on. You will hear sob stories that may make your heart bleed but you must stay strong and refuse to help. Let him know that he has to take full responsibility for his life. He is responsible for food, shelter and making his own money.
Thankfully, there are some support groups for friends and families of addicts that you can attend to vent, ask questions and receive support. Al-Anon and Narcotics Anonymous are two wonderful 12-step programs that help many people get through difficulties that arise when a loved one is in active addiction.
As hard as it may be, letting your loved one hit rock bottom may be the best thing you can do for him. Stay strong. Remind yourself why you have to do so. Be sure to provide love and support, but do not enable. As you keep your distance, know that you are truly helping your loved one by nudging him towards a decision to finally help himself.
Have you ever been in this tough predicament? What did you have to do to remind yourself to stay strong for your loved one?