Loving someone who has a serious addiction, whether they’re a friend, family member, or a partner, is not easy. It can have great personal cost for the both of you and finding the way to both help them and survive yourself can be very difficult. But the right support for someone can be a vital part of their recovery. To want to help them is a sign of your care, but you also have to learn healthy boundaries to protect yourself from the worst of it, too.
Know that this is their journey
You cannot fix someone with an addiction. This is one of the most important pieces of advice laid out in helpful books like Loving An Addict, Loving Yourself. If you want them to succeed, you can’t coddle them or try to protect them. You have to admit their problem and admit that they are going to play a crucial role in recovering from it. More importantly, you have to set your own boundaries to protect yourself. Focusing on yourself when someone is dealing with a problem as serious as addiction might sound harsh. But you have to look at yourself to see if you might be enabling them or susceptible to manipulation that helps neither of you. You have to find the balance of supporting them, but supporting yourself by learning when to say ‘no’. Most importantly, you can’t force them to take any step they don’t want.
Navigating the world of treatment
When they do want to take that step, that is when your help can be the most beneficial. Not only can it help them spot which treatment options like rehab and quality addiction treatment might be best for them, offering them moral support and understanding when they might be dealing with stress that makes it hard to understand their options. Your continued involvement in their treatment can make it easier, such as sending care packages to them if they’re in a rehabilitation center.
Help them find a better environment
By helping them move on with their life and being part of their opportunity to help them find a better life, you can help them see how past friendships and environments might be detrimental to their attempts to get healthy. Particularly if addiction begins in childhood, their environment can have a huge impact on shaping the behavior that leads to the indulgence in the addiction. At the same time, you should take the time to look at yourself and see if your past behavior has in any way contributed to that environment and those pressures. It’s not about feeling guilty for your part, but for changing how you keep loving them and helping them in recovery.
Taking care of yourself is as important to an addict’s recovery as trying to take care of them. You won’t help anyone burning yourself out by getting hurt when they relapse or take a turn for the worse. Addiction isn’t just one person’s problem but the problem of those around them.