Watching a loved one struggle with addiction or substance use disorders can be a heart-wrenching experience. It's natural to want to help them, but sometimes setting boundaries and providing encouragement are the best ways to offer support.
How to help a loved one with addiction
If you’re stuck wondering how to help a loved one with addiction, don’t lose hope. It’s a difficult process, but these 4 tips can help you keep your head above water. Whether your loved one struggles with drug addiction, alcohol addiction, or addiction of another kind, check out our tips for supporting a loved one with addiction:
You can't help someone who doesn't want it
You can't force someone to recover from addiction if they’re not ready or willing. No matter how much you love and care for someone, their commitment to change must be a personal choice.
Instead of pushing them, focus on creating an environment that supports their journey when they are ready. Be ready to provide a comfortable and restful space. Offer a listening ear and direct them to counselors and support groups when they’re ready.
Raise the bottom
Nobody wants to see a family member or friend hit rock bottom. It’s natural to want to protect your loved ones from experiencing the full consequences of their destructive behaviors. However, by doing so, we end up enabling their addiction.
It’s essential to set clear boundaries and expectations when you’re navigating addiction with a loved one. Denying resources or assistance may feel harsh and unloving. However, keep this in mind: you aren’t refusing to help the person, you’re refusing to fuel their addiction.
Your intentions may not be understood
When you establish boundaries or refuse to enable their addiction, your loved one may misunderstand your intentions. They might accuse you of being uncaring or unloving. It's crucial to remember that their addiction is speaking, not their true selves.
Addiction is a manipulative force that thrives on guilt and shame. Remember that true love wants the best for others, even if it means making difficult decisions.
Seek support and educate yourself
Supporting a loved one with addiction can be an emotional rollercoaster. It's wise to seek support for yourself along the way. Joining support groups or seeking professional counseling can provide you with a safe space to share your experiences and learn from others who have been through similar situations.
Educating yourself about addiction, its effects, and addiction treatment will also equip you with knowledge to make informed decisions. (We’d love to connect you with a pastor or counselor who can help you.)
Supporting a loved one with addiction requires a delicate balance of love, boundaries, and self-care. Remember that you can't force someone to change, but you can create an environment that supports their journey when they are ready.
Raising the bottom, understanding their accusations as products of their addiction, and seeking support for yourself are all essential steps in this process. By putting your loved one's long-term well-being over short-term fixes, you demonstrate true love and provide the best chance for their recovery.
What does God think about addiction?
As you journey through helping a loved one with addiction, you may find yourself with more questions than answers. Is addiction a spiritual battle? Can Christians become addicts? What does God think about addiction?
For a deeper dive into these questions, and other topics surrounding addiction, check out this episode of the Live Changed Podcast – you'll hear a candid conversation about how we can better understand addiction and care for the ones we love who are in the throes of it.
Addiction is a complex issue, and you may want to consider professional help. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, reach out to local support organizations like Celebrate Recovery, therapists, or helplines to find the assistance you need.
We also have addiction resources on our website for those struggling with addiction as well as those seeking to support a loved one with addiction.
If you need immediate support, please call SAMHSA’s (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357. This service provides confidential and free referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance abuse disorders.
The Live Changed Podcast is produced by LCBC Church. LCBC stands for Lives Changed By Christ. We are one church in multiple locations across Pennsylvania. Subscribe to the Live Changed Podcast wherever you listen to podcasts!