Drug addiction is a burden not only for the user but for their family and friends. Families of drug addicts and alcoholics especially suffer the brunt of arguments and abuse. Spouses typically become verbal or physical target practice, while children grow up in an unhealthy environment and live in danger. Yet despite the hazards, families typically feel helpless not knowing how to support their alcoholic loved ones.
As a family member to an alcoholic, there is little you can do to “cure” them. You can, however, encourage and lead them to recovery, provide moral support, and begin important discussions with them. When you choose to ignore the problem, you enable an alcoholic’s bad behavior or signal that nothing is wrong.
Though treating addiction is a professional’s job, as a family, you can provide love, support, and encouragement that professionals cannot. The process can be long and arduous, but by staying involved you can help yourself, family, and loved ones heal.
Do Your Research
Research is an often overlooked yet such an important facet of recovery for every person involved. Many assumptions, myths, and simply unknown factors surround alcoholism and addicts, with family and addicts themselves often uninformed. For example, alcoholism is not a choice—a poor notion many family members make trying to help.
An alcoholic cannot simply decide to stop drinking on a whim due to issues like withdrawal. Drastic force and pressure can not only add more stress to the addict but also on the entire family. In recovery, knowledge is power, and you can utilize this knowledge in convincing an alcoholic to seek recovery.
There may not only be ill pre-conceived notions you have about alcoholism but alcoholics with inaccurate ideas about recovery. Educating yourself is not only important for the family’s sake but the alcoholic in question.
Discuss and Adjust with the Alcoholic
In any relationship, there is no more powerful tool than communication and discussion. Furthermore, lack of communication is often considered the root of many conflicts, as well as pure ignorance. Alcoholism will not simply go away with time, and the misunderstandings that come with it will not simply disappear. When you choose to ignore the problem, you enable an addict’s behavior, making it even harder to sort out.
Additionally, lying or covering up the problems that lie in an addict’s wake further enables their actions. The key to supporting addicts and their recovery is through honesty and thorough communication. Explain how their actions and words hurt you, the rest of the family, or themselves without restraint. Though you should not act accusatory, you should be honest in whatever way you can. Address their problems, how it hurts others and themselves, and what they can do to change it.
Most importantly, you should establish boundaries and limits between an addict, yourself, and the rest of the family. Do not be afraid to draw the line of what you will and will not tolerate. Take the necessary steps to protect your family, your finances, and your own safety and address this properly and clearly.
Seek Therapy for Everyone
The main goal of supporting an alcoholic is to find help and therapy for them to achieve recovery; nevertheless, it is far from the only goal. Recovery is not only about the abstinence of the alcoholic, but their healing and the healing of their family. Dealing with addiction is overwhelming and hurtful for the family such as spouses and especially children.
There may be many murky and painful thoughts and emotions even once recovery passes. Leftover feelings of guilt, anger, shame, distrust, and frustrations still linger in the aftermath of someone’s alcohol addiction. However, many therapists and programs are available to help addicts and their families cope with their struggles together.
Your support and willingness to stick with an alcoholic loved one is a love that says more than any speech. Communication is crucial in support, but so are your actions for their safety as well as your own. By being honest and open yet loving and supportive, you can make a difference to improve your family’s life ahead.
If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, contact a local Treatment & Rehab alternative in Tennessee. You might be interested in Discovery Place’s own treatment center alternatives, such as our 30 Day Residential Addiction Alternative Recovery Program or our Long Term Alternative Recovery Program in Burns, Tennessee. Call us for a free consultation at 1-800-725-0922.