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dealing with a family member who has an addiction - fighting couple - twin lakes recovery centerLiving with a family member who is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol is heartbreaking and exhausting.

Emotions such as anger, worry, defeat, loss of hope, betrayal, anger, and sadness can start to make us feel like we have no control over our own life. Sometimes, we may even feel as though we are losing our sense of reality; we may question whether the addiction is as bad as we think it is. But if you have noticed a decline in your loved one’s health, their finances, their attitude, and their relationships, you are most likely not overreacting.

Here are some suggestions for coping:

  1. Communicate – Open the lines of communication in a loving way. Tell your loved one how their use of drugs or alcohol makes you feel. Try to use “I” statements to de-escalate defensiveness. Avoid blaming and making them feel bad. Reassure that you love and care about them and want them to be healthy. Expect your loved one to be in denial about their problem; do not argue with them. Choose a time when they are not high to have this discussion. Someone will not hear what you have to say if they are high, drunk, or feeling awful.
  2. Try not to be an enabler – We love our spouse, child, mother, father, sister or brother so much that we want to help them. We do all we can to show them that we love them. Sometimes, we do too much. A person who suffers from addiction becomes manipulative. They will lie, cheat, steal, or do whatever they must to use again. It is easy to fall into their entanglement of lies because we love them and want to believe them. In these circumstances, trust your gut! If they tell you they have no food, need money to fix their car so that they can get to work, or need next month’s rent, trust your instinct. Do not feel guilty for not bailing them out of the problems they caused for themselves. The more they can count on you for money and getting them out of trouble, the longer it will take for them to be accountable for their actions. They may get angry when you do not help, but isn’t it better for them to be angry at you than for you to help them pay for a substance that may kill them?
  3. Set boundaries – Good boundaries improve relationships. Be honest with yourself about what you need, and make sure you set boundaries that you are able to enforce. (For example, if you tell your spouse that you will leave them if they continue using, be prepared to follow through.) Boundaries are not meant to punish or shame anyone. They are a way of knowing what we can handle and what is healthy in our own life. Setting boundaries and sticking to them may help bring some peace.
  4. Educate yourself – If you are not familiar with addiction and the process of recovery, read all you can about it so that you can help your loved one.
  5. Remember that addiction is a disease – Remembering this may help you react the same way as if they were diagnosed with cancer or heart disease. Your loved one needs help.
  6. Remember the three C’s – You did not Cause the addiction, you cannot Control the addiction, and you cannot Cure the addiction.
  7. Take care of yourself – The first thing to do when dealing with a family member who is struggling with addiction is to get help for yourself. You may think that you are not the one who needs help, but restoring your own emotional stability will help both you and your loved one. Joining a group and speaking with others who have been or are in similar situations helps. The groups listed below are for those individuals who want support; people share their experience, strength, and hope with one another. These groups are international, meeting in various towns and cities all over the world. There is no fee to join.
  • Al-Anon – Al-Anon is for friends and families of problem drinkers to find support. (al-anon.org)
  • Nar-Anon – Nar-Anon members are relatives and friends who are concerned about the addiction of a loved one. (nar-anon.org)
  • ACA – Adult Children of Alcoholics is for people who have grown up in homes where a parent was or still is addicted to drugs or alcohol. They come together to heal and recover. (adultchildren.org)
  • CoDa – Co-Dependents Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women whose common purpose is to develop healthy relationships. The only requirement for membership is a desire for healthy and loving relationships. (coda.org)

Never lose hope and faith. Remember the reason why you love your family member. If they get the help they need, your relationship can eventually be restored.

If you need help dealing with a family member who has an addiction, contact Twin Lakes Recovery Center today at (877) 958-0778. Find out how our Georgia rehab centers can help.