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Although drug addiction and alcoholism devastate the health and happiness of the individual, people rarely abuse drugs or alcohol in isolation and so family members and close friends often suffer greatly alongside the substance abuser. Find out what you can and can’t do to help a loved one break free from addiction, and find out what you can do to minimize the impact on the family while he or she is still using. Learn how and where to find the support and how to always stay safe.

Living with an addict is challenging, and whether you are a spouse, a sibling a parent or a child; it’s hard to live with a person that puts getting drunk or high ahead of your happiness or welfare, and it’s difficult to live with the instability that always surrounds the behaviors of addiction.

Yet, although loving someone who struggles with addiction won’t ever be easy, there are some things that you can do to encourage treatment (and hopefully change) and to minimize the negative consequences of a loved one’s addiction on your own life.

Enabling

Anything that you do to protect a loved one from the consequences of their drinking or drugging only serves to perpetuate the substance abuse.

  • When your wife is too hung-over to go to work and you call in sick for her – you are enabling
  • When you bail your son out of jail after a drunk and disorderly charge – you are enabling
  • When you make excuses for a loved one’s erratic behaviors to the neighbors, you are enabling

We enable because we love and we care, but ultimately, in doing so we do more harm than good - sometimes tough love is the best love.

The Right to Intervene

When living with someone whose behaviors affect you intimately, you have every right to intervene and to demand change.

Interventions can work well to convince addicts to get the help they need, and there is no need to wait for any kind of rock bottom before taking action – rock bottom might never come, and addicts don’t need to wait for the worst to happen before getting life-changing addiction treatment.

You have the right to save a life (as you better your own) and since those that get pushed into a treatment program do just as well as those that enter of their own accord, forcing a loved one to get help can be a life-saving act of love and kindness.

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Page last updated Sep 13, 2010

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