The emotional, financial and even physical stresses that come with addiction are significant. Both body and mind are worn down in ways that can be hard to understand for those who have not experienced addiction, but some know all too well how those suffering through such problems feel. There is also the unfortunate side-effect of what some have called “second-hand addiction”, which are the problems and consequences that relatives and friends of addicts experience. It can be just as exhausting to cope with someone else’s addiction as it can be to have the actual addiction in the first place. Today, we’ll offer some advice on how to cope with a loved one who is currently facing addiction.

Find a Rehab Solution

Many people facing addiction have difficulties admitting that they have a problem. It can be hard to convince someone to seek rehab or other forms of assistance when dealing with these problems. When someone is finally capable of admitting that they have a problem, the best thing you can do is to assist your loved one in finding a viable rehabilitation option. With both in-patient and outpatient options available, there are treatment programs that deal with everything from heroin detox to methamphetamine abuse. Local non-profits and health centers can sometimes be a great place to look for initial assistance.

Have Reasonable Expectations

The mental exhaustion that someone can experience from a loved one’s addiction can be overwhelming at times. Many people feel as if their friendship or relationship should overpower the problem of addiction, which can result in unreasonable expectations. By merely asking someone to quit abusing one or more substances, automatic success should not be expected. The dynamic of addiction is a very powerful one, and not something that can be easily overcome. By coming to terms with the overwhelming strength of the addiction, you can keep reasonable expectations and focus solely on helping your loved one achieve help.

Don’t Tolerate Abuse

As much as it can be difficult to resist, a loved one’s addiction should never be allowed to run roughshod over your personal or financial well-being. If you feel vulnerable due to physical implications or emotional concerns, then be sure to find a method of support that guarantees your safety and well-being. With respect to financial concerns, it is always necessary to support your loved one without enabling his or her addiction. This merits finding ways to provide assistance that do not directly or indirectly contribute to the addict being able to convert your financial assistance into increased or additional substance abuse.

Coping with a loved one suffering from addiction can be stressful and heartbreaking. In order to successfully weather the storm while providing vital assistance, be sure to assist in finding rehabilitation solutions when the person is ready to seek them, have reasonable expectations about the power of addiction and do not allow yourself to be abused in the process.  Remember, your loved one will need to be ready to seek help in order to live a better life.

By Erica Buteau

Change Agent. Daydream Believer. Maker. Creative. Likes love, peace and Jeeping. Dislikes winter, paper cuts and war. She/Her/Hers.

2 thoughts on “How to Cope with a Loved One with an Addiction”
  1. I have known so many addicts in my life. Mostly heroin, with a close second being alcohol. Breaks my heart. Right now, one of our nephews is battling his demons with heroin and it is ripping his family apart. On one hand, they don’t want him around because he lies and steals from them to support his habit – but yet, they are so afraid to lose him, they keep letting him back in. The absolute most heartbreaking thing to watch in my life. I think about him all the time and wonder if he is okay. Great kid. 25 years old, can fix anything, handsome, funny, smart…. and threw it all away one night when he wanted to escape his demons. Now, there’s no turning back – not until he is ready. Great post.

    1. It really is so heartbreaking – the life of an addict is so complicated and sad and hard – but for their family I think it’s twice as bad because they are watching everything fall apart and the balance between protecting themselves and helping their loved one is so tough to find. I hope that your nephew gets the help that he needs and soon!

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