What Can I Do to Help My Family Member?
You can find adequate help for family members or loved ones in lots of positive ways. Remembering that they are very sick and suffering from a compulsion beyond their mental control, try not to take their behaviours and actions personally. When they are in the depths of their addiction, all that will matter to them is getting their next fix or drink. They will go to any lengths to do so, as every fibre in their body will be crying out for the drug. It is advisable to seek some support for yourself, either through an organisation or by speaking to a professional or friend whom you trust. The burden of your loved ones addiction is too big for you to carry alone; please remember at all times that you cannot fix or save them. The desire to get well and to change must come from within them.
When trying to help a family member it is important to try to help the person and not the addict. Try to separate them, as one is influenced by chemicals and the other is the loved one that you want to reach. Do not under any circumstances support the addict; do this and you are only enabling their addiction and causing further harm to yourself and to them. Your loved one or family member must sincerely want to get help if they are to recover. If any kind of financial support or enabling behaviour is occurring, it is unlikely they will reach out with any level of sincerity. The person you love and care for is still there but will be hard to reach. Driven by an overwhelming need to drink and take drugs, they are unlikely to respond to pleading, kindness or taking control. It is more likely that they will take advantage of your good nature leaving you feeling frustrated, angry and confused. If your loved one shows any signs of wanting to stop, it is at this point you can positively support them. They may want a way out, but not believe that there is one or not know where to start; this is where you can help.
When trying to help a family member through addiction, we have found that the tough love approach works best and achieves the fastest positive response. However it should not matter if they do not respond in the way that you want them to, you are not responsible for their addiction or
their actions. Try to keep your expectations low if you are to be of real assistance. If your loved one asks you for money or shelter, or to lie and cover up for them, keep boundaries tight and do not give in. It is only through them reaching a place of facing their consequences that they are likely to realise the true impact of their addiction and want to change.
If they do not respond to any offers of professional help and assistance, you may want to consider an intervention, especially if they are becoming very ill through their drinking and taking drugs. Denial can be very strong and can lead the addict to death. It may be that you are best off handing the matter over to a professional who can conduct an intervention to break that denial. There are multiple sources of valuable information on intervention.
Addiction helper offer a professional and highly successful intervention service, this is a gold card when all can seem lost. You can read more about our intervention service.
When dealing with addiction, if your loved one is to take you seriously, it is important to educate yourself. If you do not, it is likely that they will manipulate and take advantage of you. Learn about the effects of the drug that they take, what happens when they withdraw and the signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol addiction. Addiction Helper have many helpful pages on our website where you can learn about addictions.
There are many helpful organisations that can help you to help your loved one. The majority of them are charity based and run by individuals who have experienced the same difficulties you are experiencing. It can be very reassuring to know that you are not alone and having someone to talk to who understands can make things much easier to cope with. Addiction Helper offer a number of treatment services that can help your family member or loved one to recover once they are willing to accept help. We can provide detox and full rehabilitation, freeing your loved one from the constraints of their active addiction, and showing them the necessary changes to make in order to protect their recovery. We can give you your loved one back, happy, healthy and at peace with themselves.
You may want to contact one of the following organisations for support for you and other family members during this trying and very frightening time. All of the following links have contact helplines and are very informative:
For family support for drug addiction, contact Adfam on the following link:
For family support on alcoholism, contact Al Anon:
For further information on how to best support you family member or loved one, please call our helpline 0800 024 1480 / 0203 131 8340. One of our trained Addiction Specialists will talk you through the treatment options available to you.