Drug addiction can undermine family relationships. The consequences of the addict’s behavior extend beyond himself, creating upheaval in the lives of those who live with him and care about him. This illness can damage relationships and cause all members of the family to feel stressed and anxious. Helping your addicted family member is not easy, especially if he hides or denies his addiction to drugs. Although you may not be able to force your loved one to get the help he needs, you can learn to deal with his addiction in a positive manner.
Educate yourself on the type of drug your family member uses. Learn how the drug acts in the body and how it affects the behavior of your loved one. Seek out knowledgeable sources of accurate information, such as health department brochures, library reference materials, public health clinics and your family physician. This information will help you understand his addiction, as well as possible treatment programs and recovery programs.
Join a support group for family members of drug abusers. Most communities have support groups that hold regular meetings for family and friends of drug abusers. Check your telephone book or call your public health department to find out meeting times and contact numbers.
Discuss the addiction problem with a licensed professional. A therapist who specializes in drug addiction can help you address your own behavior and offer helpful advice about intervention programs that may help your family member. Discuss the problem openly and honestly with this experienced professional.
Review your past behavior to find out how you may have enabled his behavior. Resolve to step out of the way and let him face the consequences of his addiction. Refuse to make excuses for missed work or unusual behavior. Understand that your enabling behavior will only make the problem worse.
Talk to your addicted family member about his illness. Your loved one may deny or downplay the situation, but voicing your concerns can help bring the problem into the open. Keep your conversation calm and nonjudgmental. Provide him copies of your research, including brochures and informational materials. Tell him you are attending a self-help group to help you deal with his illness. Reassure him of your love and devotion, but let him know that you refuse to make excuses for him or act as an enabler.
- Don’t attempt to discuss your loved one’s addiction while he is high or influenced by drugs. Select an appropriate time when you won’t be disturbed.
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