Living with an addicted person can be extremely tough. If this person is someone you love then it can be distressing to see them struggling with this crippling illness. You may want to do everything in your power to help them and make their life easier, but this can often cause more harm than good; especially if the addicted individual has learned how to manipulate your feelings to get what he or she wants.
The truth is that family members may have to adopt a tough-love attitude in order to make their addicted loved one see how much hurt and damage he or she is causing. Although this can be devastating for family members, it may be the best way to help. The old saying of being ‘cruel to be kind’ is often necessary when it comes to dealing with individuals suffering from addiction.
How to Practice Tough Love
Tough love means showing love to a person but in a stern manner. This is often used by parents educating a young child, or discouraging him or her from doing something that could cause them harm. Those who practice tough love may treat a loved one in a harsh manner in order to help that person.
When it comes to practicing tough love with an addicted person, it may be necessary for loved ones to stop giving the affected person money or to ask them to leave the family home in order to encourage him or her to get the help required to beat the addiction.
Many family members will offer ultimatums to addicted loved ones. When it comes to following through, though, they feel they cannot, as this may seem too harsh. However, many addicts know that their loved ones will not keep their promises, which allows them to carry on behaving as they have been. They are not in the least bit worried that their loved ones will ever follow through on promises so why would they consider keeping their own promises to get help.
What family members need to realise is that, by continually allowing their addicted loved one to get away with their behaviour, they are enabling the addict, unfortunately unintentionally making the situation even worse.
Many family members and friends are guilty of enabling their addicted loved one without even realising. If they continue to protect the person from the consequences of their behaviour, they are making things worse.
By protecting addicts, it will take longer for that person to hit rock bottom, the point at which most addicts will realise they need to make a change. There is also the risk of others continuing to be hurt by the actions of the addict while loved ones are protecting them.
Co-dependency is another risk associated with enabling addicts. This means that the person enabling the addict becomes so focused on the actions of their loved one and with trying to ‘fix’ them, that they lose their own identity.
Addicts often feel as though their behaviour is being condoned by a loved one who is protecting them. Their feelings of denial about their problem will be amplified if they feel that you are condoning these actions.
If you want to encourage your loved one to get help for addiction, you may need to practice tough love. Nevertheless, this may be hard for some people, and they may need advice from professional counsellors who can advise on the best way to do this.
Addiction Helper has a team of professionals ready and willing to provide you with the addiction advice and support you need to help your loved one. Call today for more information on how we can help.