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Rules for The Family of Addicts That Should Never Be Broken

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD By May 4, 2019
family of addicts/what to do after a relapse

When you have a loved one that is facing an addiction, it’s natural to fall into the behavioral patterns of enabling them. After all, you want to help their life run as smoothly as possible.

You might do things like pay their rent, buy them groceries, and allow them to use in your home. You probably think that it’s safer than seeing them use on the streets where there is no one there to help them if they overdose. 

Your loved one may also be manipulating you to take advantage of your kindness. Addicts will say what they need to say to get their next fix. But if you’re doing any of these things, you’re working against yourself. 

There are much better ways to respond. Read on for advice for the family of addicts. 

1. Don’t Offer Refuge from a Short Term Residential Program

When your loved one checks into a short term residential program, they may try to leave. When they call you and reach out, make sure that you don’t offer them a place to stay.

They need to go through the journey of recovery and sometimes that means realizing there is no way to go but forward.

2. Reach Out for Peer Support

There are millions of people in the United States that suffer from addiction. You’re not the only person who has to handle the tragedy of watching their loved one suffer from substance abuse. 

You should reach out for peer support from other people who are going through the same things as you. They will be able to share their stories and advice to help you make the best choices as you are facing your own struggle. It’s also nice to have a group of people that you can open up to that you know will understand what you are going through.

3. Choose the Right Time to Talk

When you want your loved one to start getting help for a substance abuse problem, you have to choose the right time to talk to them. Make sure that you choose a time when they are sober and able to discuss the issue. 

You should use open-ended questions to talk to them about their addiction instead of accusing them of having a problem. 

You should also use this time to set your boundaries and let your loved one know what your limits are when it comes to their future behavior. Be clear and ready to back up what you say with action.

4. Don’t Make Any Excuses for the Addict or Yourself

It’s hard to see your loved one go down the path of addiction. You may want to write off their bad behavior as circumstantial or make excuses for the reasons they use. This often happens when someone goes through a tragic loss or change of life circumstances. 

For a while, their use will seem normal. But over time, as they continue to use, the cracks begin to show. 

If you believe your loved one has an addiction, don’t make excuses for their behavior. Get them help today.

5. Don’t Offer Them Drugs or Alcohol

Drugs and alcohol are a common occurrence in the everyday life of most Americans. While your loved one is in the recovery process, they may be vulnerable to temptation. 

It’s important that you take steps to limit that temptation as much as possible by avoiding drinking around them and not offering them any alcohol in social situations. One drink on the weekend could be a real problem for someone who is struggling for control. 

6. Contact Law Enforcement When Necessary

Unfortunately, addicts commit a lot of criminal activity. They will steal money, drugs, make illegal purchases, and often drive when intoxicated.  

If your loved one steals from you or is endangering the lives of others, it’s important that you allow local law enforcement to intervene and do its job. You may think you are helping your loved one by not reporting their criminal activity, but you are only hurting yourself and prolonging the inevitable.

7. Reconsider Financial Support

Addictions are very expensive. Not only in the cost of drugs and alcohol, but also in loss of productivity. People who have addictions often lose their motivation to maintain their jobs. They are also less likely to look for opportunities for promotions or investment options. 

To help out, many families will chip in to pay for the basic living expenses for their loved one with an addiction. But when you do that, all you’re doing is freeing up more of their money for them to spend on their addiction. 

It’s important to protect the finances of your entire family by cutting off addicts from financial support as soon as you know they have a problem. Once they begin the path to recovery, you can begin to reach out again and encourage them. 

Final Words for the Family of Addicts

The advice for the family of addicts in this article will help you understand how your behavior plays a role in perpetuating the addiction behavior you’re trying to eradicate. It’s important that you talk to your loved one who is an addict and establish clear boundaries with them about what you will and won’t allow.

Encourage them to seek help for themselves instead of enabling them to continue to live the way that they have been. 

At Discovery Institute, we care about our patients and know the right steps to take to help them become sober. Learn more about our facilities today. 

Article Reviewed by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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