To say it can be emotionally straining to watch someone you love struggle with addiction would be an understatement.  As the epidemic of addiction continues, we as therapists continue to see more and more family members struggling with what they can do to help.  Here are some ways you can show up while taking care of yourself.

  •  Identify the problem
    • You will want to look for sudden changes in behavior or mood.  Maybe your loved one is someone that is always on time for work and suddenly they start missing or being late for work.  You could see someone go from being over the moon happy to argumentative and lethargic.  You will also want to watch for financial difficulty, attempts to be dishonest about spending and an easy one to spot-legal consequences.
  • Act Fast
    • Don’t be afraid to step in and talk about different ways of getting help-for both of you.  Yes each person may want to talk to a professional about the thoughts, feelings and experiences they are having.  Get in contact with an outpatient therapist, psychiatrist, or your family doctor.  Remember don’t make excuses and take note of any enabling behaviors you or someone else in the picture may be exhibiting.  The longer you wait to acknowledge, create a plan and tackle it the harder it will be on both parties.
  • Support
    • This may be the trickiest of all.  Talking to your friends and family may be full of embarrassment, guilt or even shame.  We don’t always have the language to educate our support peeps, tell them how we are feeling or what we may need.  Reach out anyways.  You will find that people understand far more than you think they will.  If by chance you just aren’t quite ready to do that, look to community support groups.  Your therapist or physician can help point you in the right direction. 
  • Recovery is a process 
    • Yep, there is no overnight fix.  There will be relapses but if you can stay positive in your support for recovery, then your loved one will have a greater chance of doing the same.  I tell my clients it’s not a matter of “if” there will be a setback it is a matter of “when”.  You can’t control the addiction but you can have impact on your own thoughts, mood and limits. This is a lifelong journey.

Get help.  Don’t go it alone.  Stay connected.