How to Help an Addict Without Enabling Them

mutual support against addiction

When you’re watching someone you love suffer from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it’s common to feel very helpless. Because of this, it’s also common for people to try to do too much, get too involved, and accidentally end up enabling the addict despite acting with good intentions.

Behaviors that enable an addicted person may include:

  • Lying for them
  • Lending them money
  • Ignoring their addicted behavior

If you truly want to help your loved one recover from his or her addiction, remember there is a difference between “tough love” and “no love”. Your actions have the ability to affect your loved one positively. Here are some tips for helping your addicted loved one without enabling them:

Act Quickly

As soon as you notice your loved one displaying signs of substance abuse, take it seriously – don’t think ignoring the situation will make it better. Talk to him or her. The longer you wait before trying to step in, the more chances there are that they will get themselves hurt.

Similarly, if you have a successful conversation with your loved one about receiving treatment for their addiction, get them into treatment as soon as possible, so your loved one doesn’t have a chance to change his or her mind.

Be Honest and Gentle

In order to help your loved one realize he or she has a problem, you will have to confront him or her about it. However, you’ll want to avoid being too harsh or coming off as judgemental.

Practice what you’ll say to them before you start the conversation. Plan to tell your loved one how you feel, but don’t use accusatory statements. Let them know you’re worried about them and want to see them safe and healthy.

Be aware if emotions start to heighten. If you begin getting angry or you sense your loved one becoming defensive, drop the conversation. You can always come back to it at a later time, but you don’t want to risk accidentally pushing your loved one away.

Set Boundaries

Your loved one might not be receptive to the idea of receiving help right away, and that’s okay. You can never force someone into treatment.

Until then, protect your own mental health and avoid risk of further damaging your relationship by coming up with and implementing clear boundaries. Spend a bit of time thinking about what your limits are and common situations where you’ll need to begin drawing a line.

Once you’ve decided to create boundaries, communicate what they are to your loved one. Again, avoid blaming him or her in the situation, and keep your words and tone gentle.

It can be overwhelming to deal with a loved one who is suffering from an addiction, but there is hope. By admitting the reality of the situation early, showing them love, and being tough when necessary, you can absolutely support your loved one in a journey toward lifelong recovery from addiction.

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