When a loved one is struggling with addiction, it can be excruciating for us to watch, especially when they refuse our many attempts to get them help. It may feel hopeless when you are facing someone struggling with substance abuse who doesn’t want your help, and help is the only thing we can offer. There are a few important things to remember when it comes to helping an addict who doesn’t want help; you didn’t cause their addiction, you can’t cure them, and you can’t control them or their choices. The question then becomes how you can help an addict regardless of if they want help or not.
How to Help an Addict: Things you Can’t do
When you’re trying to help someone who is addicted to drugs and alcohol, there are a few things that you can’t do. This does not mean that you aren’t capable of handling these situations, there are just a few things that are not possible for anyone to do.
- You Can’t Make Them Quit What you can do to help them in the meantime is stage an intervention if you feel it necessary. You still can’t expect them to get help because it has been offered, neither can you control their thoughts, behaviors, or feelings about accepting help or going to substance abuse treatment. An intervention can help you set boundaries to help yourself. Acknowledging that you are powerless over their addiction can help you work in reality. It is by no means your responsibility to try to make them stop using drugs. You can only control yourself in this situation and what you allow to be acceptable in your life. Even going to treatment does not necessitate them staying sober once they leave treatment.
- You Cannot Recover for an Addict who Doesn’t Want Help – While you want your loved one to maintain sobriety after leaving treatment, you cannot do it for them. You can work a recovery program of your own because the impact addiction has on families is profound, you also need to heal yourself. As hard as it may be to continue watching your loved one go down this dark path, there is nothing that you can do. You can begin to take care of yourself and know what options are available to you. Sometimes after treatment, your loved one will maintain sobriety for a period and then relapse. If you see signs pointing towards a relapse, make sure you have open lines of communication with them to point these signs out to them. It does not always guarantee they will see these signs or do anything to change their pattern of behaviors. They may not want to hear it or do anything about it, but if you keep your side of the street clean, you’ve done all you can. You can express your concern and let your loved ones know that you are there, but you cannot recover for them. If they are not willing to accept your help, there is nothing more that you can do.
- You Can’t Accept Boundary Breaking Behavior – When you set clear boundaries with the addict in your life, and they break them, it falls on you to not accept that behavior. When helping an addict, it may not always seem like you are helping them (at least in their eyes.) Especially, in the business of boundaries. Telling someone who is inactive addiction the word “no” is a tough situation to maneuver. Underneath the addiction they are your child, mother, father, brother, friend, they are a person who has been taken from who you knew them to be. Something many people struggle with is the reaction of the other to the boundaries that have been put in place. The boundaries are for you, they are for your health, mind frame, and being. Addicts often have issues crossing boundaries. One of the trickiest parts of boundaries is that you have to stick with them. Once you don’t follow through with a boundary that you’ve set, your word isn’t credible anymore. When you don’t remain steadfast in your boundaries, it leaves room for interpretation on the other end of the boundary where it has to be very cut and dry. Boundaries are for you and your healing process. When someone struggling with addiction has to face the consequences, it allows them to grow in the right direction. It makes them own up to their actions, even if it takes some time for them to realize their part in things. It is also hard to watch, but boundaries allow us to keep ourselves in a safe position to be able to help an addict when they are ready.
How to Help an Addict: Things You Can do
While there are so many things that you cannot do when trying to help an addict, it may feel like there is nothing you can do. When trying to help an addict that doesn’t want help, you can always help yourself. Helping ourselves is the only way we can help them as well. When we can’t help ourselves, how are we supposed to help someone else? Helping an addict by helping ourselves can start with a few simple suggestions.
- Talk About Addiction– Talking about your loved one’s addiction can help you. Talk about it with people who have been in your position before, support groups and meetings can help alleviate a lot of the expected stress. Realizing you are not alone can do wonders, it can also give you hope. When trying to help an addict who doesn’t want help, you often feel that you’re to blame at some point. Remember, you did not cause their addiction and you cannot recover for them. When you offer your help to an addict, they may or may not accept it. The best thing you can do is talk to them if applicable, and to talk to your support group. No one on either side of addiction is alone. There is help available, and there are more resources than you would think available to the families of addicts.
- Educate Yourself – Educating yourself about addiction can help you immensely. When you know what you’re dealing with, it is easier to come to a solution about what you can do to help or change things. When you’re armed with facts, you can make more informed decisions for yourself. It may not make it any more comfortable, but it benefits you to know what may be going on with your loved one. If your loved one does eventually go to treatment, make sure to participate in any family programs they may offer. Family programs are another chance for you to receive education and advice on your loved one’s recovery, and to talk to your loved one personally about their addiction. Attending a family program also gives you the opportunity to work on yourself and your relationship with your loved one at the same time. It allows for you and the addict you’re helping, learn what you both need to have a healthy relationship with one another. Family programs at treatment centers can be extremely beneficial for yourself, your entire family, and your loved one.
- Self-Care is Important – In the midst and turmoil of your loved one’s addiction, it is easy to forget what you need. Regardless of your loved one is doing well or is in a bad spot, you have to take care of yourself. Your loved one can’t control your life and well-being. You must be capable of taking care of yourself despite what may be going on in your loved one’s life. Helping an addict can be exhausting, whether they accept the help or not. There is a lot of grief in loving someone who is an addict. Whether that person is still alive or has passed on, it is a heartbreaking time to go through. Getting involved in a self-care routine of your own is essential. You have to be able to take care of yourself. It can seem like a paradox at first that you have to be able to help yourself first, but it is the truth.
In the many ways that we want to help addicts, they will shut it down. There is no logic when it comes to addiction, and there are only certain things that we can do for ourselves. When we begin to take care of ourselves and not place blame, it opens the door for us to begin to heal. When we start to heal, we can help others heal, and we can offer help to our addicted loved ones in a way that is healthy for both ourselves and them.
If your loved one is ready to accept your help and commit to treatment, contact us today at (855) 844-3588. You can heal, we can help. GateHouse Treatment also offers a Family Program to help you and your loved one.