How to Support a Family Member Struggling With Addiction

When you have a family member who is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, it will no doubt be one of the most stressful situations you will ever encounter. However, while it will be very easy for you to get upset and angry at your family member whose addiction has turned your life upside down, providing support in numerous ways will often pay off in the end. After all, for anyone going through a crisis, all they want is to know that the people who care about them, their friends and family, are there to support them. As for what you can do in a situation like this, put the following tips into practice.

Don’t Be Judgmental

Above all else, don’t let yourself be judgmental of your family member. Since the behavior they may be exhibiting during their addiction struggles is not the person they really are, keeping an open mind during the addiction and recovery period can make a huge difference in how your situation plays out. It may be helpful to keep in mind how you personally act when you are going through a crisis, difficult time, or even a transition. No one is at their best when something like an addiction is taking over their life.

Be Willing to Listen

In many cases when individuals struggle with addiction, they often feel as if nobody is willing to listen to them. By showing your family member that you are always willing to listen to them when they want to talk about their concerns or vent the frustrations that always go along with substance abuse, you can make their struggle and recovery easier. Put forth the effort to answer late-night texts or phone calls, be available for in-person talks, or visit your loved one whenever you feel like they might need some lifting up. A little listening can go a long way on the road to recovery.

Learn About Addiction

Since addiction of any type is very complex and can vary from one person to another, make sure you learn all you can about the type of addiction your family member is experiencing. By doing so, you can gain a better understanding of what your family member may be thinking or feeling as they try to overcome their addiction. It could be helpful to accompany them to an AA meeting or group therapy if they are comfortable with you doing so and the group consents to it. You may be surprised at the candid conversations and what you can learn from them.

Choose Your Words Carefully

When dealing with those who are fighting substance abuse addiction, words definitely matter. For example, when you are having conversations with your family member, try to make sure your words do not sound as if you are preaching at them, ordering them to get better, or nagging them about not getting well fast enough. Ask them what kind of affirmations or advice they like to hear and what is most helpful to them when they are having a particularly difficult moment. By being aware of what you are saying to your family member, your conversations can be far more productive and helpful.

Since you may not know exactly what to do to help your family member in these situations, you may be apprehensive about doing anything at all for fear of making the problem worse. However, by putting these steps into practice, you may find a new way to approach this complex problem. By listening, choosing your words carefully, and learning all you can about addiction, you and your family member can begin to see light at the end of the tunnel.

About the Author

Anica Oaks is a freelance writer who hails from San Francisco. When she’s not writing, she’s enjoying her time outside with her dogs. Anica recommends finding a substance abuse treatment center to help your loved ones. Keep up with her on Twitter @anicaoaks.

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