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How to Help a Loved One Who Struggles With Addiction

Each person’s journey through, and hopefully out of, addiction is different, but there are some general rules of thumb for providing help to a loved one. Addiction is an insidious disease that not only affects the person who has the substance use disorder, but those around them. 

To help guide your support while also ensuring that your life isn’t upended, the team here at Northshore Family Practice wants to share a few dos and don’ts when it comes to helping a loved one who struggles with addiction.

Educate yourself

For those who observe addiction from the outside, the disease is difficult to understand. But make no mistake, addiction is a complex disease that encompasses your loved one’s physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral health. Addiction essentially hijacks your loved one’s brain, and many of their thoughts and actions aren’t their own.

If you want to learn more about addiction, we’re happy to point you in the right direction.

A fine line between helping and enabling

When you interact with your loved one, it’s important to understand the difference between helping and enabling. It can be awful to see a loved one’s life unravel because of addiction, and you want to help. Unfortunately, all too often this support simply enables them to continue using. 

For example, bailing them out of trouble, giving them money, and just generally cleaning up their messes may only pave the way for more problems. Instead, offer an ear, a meal, a warm place to stay, but steer clear of propping them up time and again, which only prevents them from facing their problem.

Creating boundaries without cutting them off

You want to be there for your loved one, but you also have your own life. It’s important that you create boundaries, and when your loved one crosses a line, you need to enforce those boundaries. If your loved one’s addiction is causing stress and hardship for you, take a step back and let them know it’s not OK.

At the same time, it’s important that you don’t completely cut them off. Isolation can be a dangerous trap for someone who struggles with addiction, so reach out and let them know that you’re available to them, just not at all hours of the day or night.

Practice patience

While some people get sober on their first try, many stumble during early recovery and relapse. We know it’s frustrating, but be patient and encourage your loved one to not give up. Remember, addiction is a disease of the brain, and the brain can be a powerful force to go up against.

Get help

We know you want to help in any way you can, but one of the best things you can do is to turn it over to professionals who understand addiction. Our team is equipped to help your loved one move past addiction through early detox, medically assisted therapies, and ongoing recovery support.

For more information about helping your loved one break free from addiction, contact our office in Bothell, Washington, to speak with one of our addiction specialists.

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