The anguish that an addict’s family feels watching their loved one spiral into dependency is second only to the anguish of the struggling addict himself. During this difficult time of searching for an effective treatment and hoping that you can get help in time, however, you could inadvertently be enabling the very behavior patterns that you so desperately want to come to an end. If any of these thoughts or beliefs describe you, it might be time to consider family counseling. When an addict knows that you are all in this together, recovery is possible.
This is All My Fault
When it comes to addiction, it does no good to lay blame at anyone’s feet — especially your own. Holding onto this kind of belief distracts your focus from what’s really important, and that is moving forward. Forgive yourself for any fault you may feel, and move on. Your loved one needs to know that he or she is the most important thing.
Addiction is Only a Physical Disease
While addiction affects the body in powerful ways, its grip on the mind is even more powerful. Thinking of it as a physical disorder leads you to look for a quick fix, a pill that your loved one can take for a few months that will cure what’s ailing him or her. In truth, while medications can be necessary during the detox phase, it takes an exploration of self to really break through the chains that an addiction forges.
Addiction is All in Your Head
On the other hand, you can’t overlook the extremely physical pull of a substance abuse problem. Your loved one has to believe that he or she can defeat their addiction, but they also need to know that if they need help, they can get it. The story of a heroine addict locked in a closet to sweat it out for days on end may not demonstrate a safe way to detox, but it gets an important point across — sometimes, an addict needs to be literally locked away from their drug of choice to get through those first few days without it.
I Don’t Know Who My Son/Daughter/Etc. is Anymore
Never believe that you have lost your loved one. It’s painful to look into the eyes of someone you once knew and see a stranger there instead, but you can be confident that he or she is still in there, no matter how deeply buried. Make sure they know that you are looking for them, waiting for them to return.
There is No Hope
There is always hope. No matter how long your loved one has struggled with an addiction; no matter how deeply ingrained the devastating habit is; no matter how close to death he or she has walked; there is always hope. There is always the possibility that this struggle will end one day.
Be the hope for your loved one, because they are probably having trouble finding it themselves. Don’t waste time telling them what they should or shouldn’t do — they already know all that. Spend every moment you have together letting them know that you love them, and that you believe they can do this. Because when an addict knows that he or she is supported and loved, the battle is not yet lost.