Addiction does not just affect the addict, it affects their whole family. Many family members call us in an attempt to get their loved ones treatment. Helplessness is heard in their voices. Countless sleepless nights, worry, anxiety, stress, and panic are conveyed. Please know that we treat the entire disease. If you are a family member who has an addicted love one in or out of treatment, contact us. There ARE things you can do to help yourself and your family get through this crisis. Below are some do’s and don’t.
Do: Maintain your own balance and integrity. Don’t let the addicted person draw you into using drugs or alcohol with him/her. Also don’t let him convince you that you’re wrong for seeing the problem.
Don’t: Expect results just by asking him/her to quit. It will seldom (if ever) do any good to say, “If you loved me, you’d quit.” The compulsion to get more alcohol or drugs is bigger then he is and it’s usually bigger than his love for his family. It’s just flat-out overwhelming. If you accept this, you can get started on the solution.
Do: Find a rehab program for your loved one. If you have any choice in the matter, ask plenty of questions before selecting one. Find out exactly how the program works. The program should make sense to you. Most addicts have a dual diagnosis. This means they use to cope with another issue. Ensure the program is a dual-diagnosis program.
Don’t: If at all possible, don’t choose a 30-day program. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends a program of three months or longer for a better chance of sobriety. Addiction seldom occurs overnight and there is plenty of destruction of life skills along the way. It takes time to rebuild a life.
Do: If humanly possible, stand by the addicted person in your life. Sometimes, especially when there are kids, it’s vital to remove yourself and the children from the situation. If you can, let the addicted person know that you support him and his recovery. The drugs have already convinced him that he is worthless so when he has support, there is a greater chance he can turn things around during rehab.
Don’t: Put yourself in a situation where you can be abused mentally or physically. If you are vulnerable due to size, emotional state or other reason, find your own support. Family, counselors, ministers, even law enforcement can and should be utilized. You might feel ashamed or embarrassed about being in this situation. That’s completely natural. You must speak out for your own protection. You can’t help anyone if you are beaten down or ill yourself.
Do: Insist on rehab as the right answer for addiction. Families with an addicted loved one live in terror of the phone call that tells them that their addicted loved one is dead or has been jailed. Find an effective rehab program and make this the only solution you will accept – not promises that she will “cut down,” “wean herself off,” or “only do it one more time.”
Don’t: Expect that the person will immediately take off for rehab when you first approach him. You may have to intervene. Either find a professional interventionist who has successfully gotten many people to rehab. If some have been providing money or shelter, they must agree that rehab is the only option. There must be no way out other than going to rehab. Stop providing for the addict otherwise they will never see the need to get help.
Do: If you are going to stage an intervention, it must be done from caring and love. Criticism or blame will only push the person further into his uncontrollable guilt. Drugs are already his solution for this guilt.
Don’t: Assume that his going to rehab means that everything has been resolved. He will need your love, guidance and support during rehab and afterwards as he establishes a new, sober life for himself. Help him move back into life in a step-by-step manner, maintaining your support. Support does not mean give money. Never give money to an addict. You then become part of the problem and money is a direct line to their next use or to death.