This article was written by Brendan Mcdonough and published by Holdfast Recovery
The holiday season is an excuse to let loose and enjoy a month of excess. Unfortunately, for those with the propensity to overindulge, this time of year can cause turmoil. This takes a serious toll on not only the addict but their family members as well. With the pressure of spending money, making countless social arrangements, and dedicating time to people you only see once a year, worrying about a loved one suffering from addiction can be enough to tip you over the edge.
The challenges that family members of addicts face is often overlooked, but they are usually the ones bearing the burden and picking up the pieces. Addiction is a degenerative disease, and when untreated or not treated properly, the sufferer can easily get trapped in the cycle of addiction.
The more you try to help the addict and deal with the disappointment of them not succeeding, the more hopeless the situation can seem. However, there are several things you can do to increase the chances of getting the person you care about into long-term recovery and making it stick.
Don’t Let Them Take Advantage of You
You’ve probably heard of the term “enabling,” but many people have a limited understanding of what that means. Enablers aren’t just people who also abuse substances or help addicts get their fix, but also people who allow certain behaviors to go unchecked. Unconditional love and support don’t need to be revoked, but it’s imperative not to allow yourself to be fooled and manipulated.
If your loved one has developed a habit of stealing or begging you for money, this needs to end right away. Let them know that the only money you’re willing to spend on them is to get them into addiction treatment, and lock away valuables so theft isn’t an option. You may feel guilty doing this, but it’s for the best. If they resort to stealing from other sources, they will face the consequences of their actions. Sometimes, this is the only thing that can jolt them into recovery.
Be Consistent and Stand Strong
Substance use disorders are diseases that cause the sufferer to be extremely dishonest and fixated on the subject of their addiction. Understanding addiction as a severe illness allows you to separate the addict from the actions and behavior that are side effects of their disease and aim any anger or heartbreak at the condition itself.
It’s almost instinctive to say to your loved ones that you’ll reward them for stopping or slowing down their alcohol or drug use. However, bribes never work. In fact, you’re setting them and yourself up for failure, which is a blow to their self-esteem as well as your own. Likewise, if you set an ultimatum and inevitably don’t stand by it, you’re sending a message that you’re weak and easy to take advantage of.
Lean into Your Faith
Finding strength in these challenging times may seem impossible. If you’re a believer, now is the time to draw your faith close. With God and the fellowship of your Christian family, you have support unlike any other. You may want to make an appointment to speak to someone in leadership and counseling at your church home for additional support resources and nonjudgmental reassurance. The strength you find in your faith can’t be underestimated. Although you may feel embarrassed or ashamed that this is happening to your family, that’s not a feeling that comes from God. The New Testament strongly encourages us to show love by bearing each other’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2)
Don’t Raise Your Voice or Resort to Insults
Housing or being close to someone with a substance use disorder is one of the most challenging experiences a person can have. At times, you will lose your patience, and you must forgive yourself for this as well. Try to remember that getting into an argument or saying hurtful things never works, especially when it’s in retaliation.
Often, the addict is looking for an excuse to feel persecuted and sorry for themselves. If you fall into the trap of fighting with them, it enables them to justify their behavior in their minds. Someone will rarely listen to points made with raised voices. As such, it’s best to save any conversations or advice for a time when you are both calm and relaxed.
Find Examples of Recovery
Role models can have a huge impact, especially on young people. There are some great examples of people who have overcome addiction with the help of faith-based recovery programs. Sometimes, the addict just needs to see that it’s possible to believe they can do it too. Here are some of the people you can draw your loved one’s attention to as examples of recovery:
- Vance Johnson
- Robert Downey Jr.
- Shia LeBeouf
- Keith Urban
- Rob Lowe
- Julien Baker
- Martin Sheen
- Demi Lovato
- Alec Baldwin
- Brian Welch
- Anthony Hopkins
- Kelsey Grammar
Get Educated and Share Your Knowledge
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. The best way to get your message across and be heard is to know exactly what you’re talking about. Read about the condition and speak to experts so that you fully comprehend how the addict feels when they’re high. Gain an understanding of what the drugs or alcohol do to the mind and body and explain what you learn to your loved one.
When they hear you describe their experience in clear and unbiased terms, they’ll be more inclined to think you know what you’re talking about. When you explain that rehab followed up with continuing care and the attendance of support groups is the most effective method of recovery, they’ll be more likely to listen. If you consistently and calmly reiterate this point, eventually they will be influenced by unbiased facts.