Part II: Making your loved one realize that they have a problem and ascertaining your behaviors and actions that might be contributing to the addiction, as well as preventing your loved one from realizing they have an addiction problem.
For treatment to be effective it’s important to make the individual suffering from addiction realize that they have a problem. You cannot get a loved one to stop drinking or taking drugs unless they are ready to admit that they have a problem and want to get help. However, you can help them realize that they have a problem and thereby aid in their recovery. There are a number of ways in which this could be done. Whilst sometimes just talking and reaching out to the individual when they are sober might help, at other times more effort might be needed on your part in understanding how you could be preventing them from realizing that they have an addiction problem and then changing your behavior towards them.
Your behavior or actions can significantly impact on your loved ones addiction problem. You could be inadvertently encouraging addictive behavior, could be manipulated into letting the addictive behaviors happen or, at other times, you might be giving into the problem because of the love and/or pity you feel towards your loved one. It’s important to understand that the need for alcohol and/or drugs is so strong in people who are addicted that they can go to any extent to procure it ? including deceiving and manipulating people they might love dearly.
Your feelings towards your loved one, be it love, pity or both, could be taken full advantage of. There are numerous ways in which your loved one could get you to give in to their wants. Promising that it will never happen again after this one time that you help them; throwing tantrums; threatening you; these are just some of the tactics an addict can employ. At other times, especially in cases when your loved one has lost a job, has no food, money, etc., your feelings can get the better of you.
You might be compelled to help them but may ultimately end up encouraging the addictive behaviors, rather than helping them. It’s important to realize that being loving and supportive does not mean giving in to everything your loved one wants or say they need, it is giving them what they need to get better. It is important, therefore, to set boundaries for yourself and know where to draw the line in helping or supporting your loved one. For example, instead of offering your loved one financial or other help you could get them to seek medical help.
It could be that you do not knowingly give in to your loved ones problem, but you still could be inadvertently encouraging addictive behavior. You do this when you take over their responsibilities – e.g. doing their chores for them, cleaning up for them, etc., when you’re drinking with them or giving them money for food or clothes but which instead is being used to buy more alcohol or drugs.
Apart from encouraging the problem, you could also be preventing your loved one with addiction from admitting he/she has a problem by rescuing them every time they get into trouble. Covering up their mistakes in front of others, or lying for them to their colleagues and friends to protect them; or maybe protecting your own image or even bailing them out of jail is rescuing them. A person suffering from addiction needs to be made to feel responsible for his or her own mistakes and suffer the consequences of their actions. Otherwise, they will never realize that they have a problem.
At the same time fighting, arguing, pleading with your loved one or trying to control him or her will not help. This may send them on a guilt trip which in turn could result in more drinking.
What individuals suffering from addiction really need is love and support. It’s important to understand the fine line between the love and support which allows them to continue using the addictive substance, as already discussed and the love and support which is aimed at getting the individual to quit. By assessing your behaviors and how they affect the individual with addiction, plus setting boundaries for yourself, you are providing the love and support your loved one needs to get better.