When Addicts Say “I’m Never Gonna Quit”
A complex and confusing aspect of dealing with addiction is that no matter how in-depth a guidebook or advice may be, it will always miss the mark to some degree due to every person’s addiction being different. Your loved one’s experience may be worlds apart from another person’s experience. However, this is not to say research on addiction is pointless. On the contrary, the more you know about addiction, the more capable you will be of helping your loved one.
Rehabilitation, to be truly effective, must be tailored to helping the individual. Merely going through the motions of recovery can leave family members and the addict themselves feeling defeated and, in worse case scenarios, hopeless. No one can advise the “one thing” that will take away your loved ones’ addiction problem. I have learned from over seven years of working with addiction and family members of addicts, they play one of the most significant roles in a successful recovery.
Yet family members can run into several pitfalls when trying to help their loved ones who are struggling with addiction. One of the hardest things to balance is the line between enabling and caring, questioning where does so-called “tough love” fit in and how do I empower my loved one to reach for and accept help? These terms are broken down for you as they relate to addiction.
to encourage or support the bad or dysfunctional behavior of someone:
It is easy to slip into enabling your loved one. Anything you do with or for them that makes it ok for them to continue self-destructive behavior could be considered enabling.
There are many examples of enabling:
- giving money
- providing housing
- paying their bills
- justifying their actions
- blaming other circumstances on why they are using
- accepting excuses for addiction
Once you have stopped enabling your loved ones is the time to encourage them to seek treatment. One of the most effective ways to do this is through empowerment. You are making it clear they can change the course of their life. You should also cover why treatment is important to those around them. Be positive while not making excuses for what they have been doing. Communicate to them without being hurtful of throwing jabs and show them there is a benefit for them to change their ways.
- Sharing feelings with them
- Being direct but positive about how things need to change
- Discussing how they will benefit from changing personally
- Asking them the reasons they want to be sober
Staying away from attacking or getting into arguments is essential as this does not handle the situation but puts your loved one on the defense. When they focus on defending themselves, they will not be focused on how treatment could truly change their lives.
Many run into trouble, unsure what to do to make sure their loved ones get help and begin their recovery. It takes courage and confidence to help someone in the throes of addiction. This is where “tough love” can play a huge role.
What people call “tough love” only makes sense when it serves a purpose. The purpose of this is two-fold; get the person into treatment and protect the loved one of the addict. This may mean cutting them off financially or even cutting ties with them. Ideally, you would end up getting your loved one in treatment.
However, if they still refuse to change their destructive behavior, it is essential to protect yourself. This is where bottom lines come in place. These are things like “If you don’t go to treatment, you cannot live here any longer.” While harsh, these are put in place to safeguard yourself and the other members of your family.
This should always be done in a way to incentivize treatment. Once your loved one decides to change and is taking physical steps to get into treatment, “tough love” does not need to continue to be used. By physical steps, we mean going into treatment to get off drugs.
These steps may not flow in exact order, and through the course of helping your loved one recover, you may find yourself needing to apply one of these steps. For instance, let's say your loved one required tough love, and they are scheduled to begin treatment. The night before, they get cold feet and are scared. At this point, empowerment may be the correct thing to do.
Most importantly, never give up hope. If you are at your wits end with a loved one who is struggling with addiction or you yourself are struggling, there is help. Please reach out today we would be happy to help you with the problems you are facing.