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March 10, 2014

Helping a Loved One Through Addiction

by guest blogger Alicia Lawrence

One of the hardest aspects of dealing with the addiction of a significant other is the helplessness you feel. Then there's guilt associated with being an enabler. This is often rationalized with, "Better me than a stranger," "At least they won't steal," or whatever excuse springs to mind to ease your conscience. Eventually, this ends in one of two ways: You either slowly manage to make someone else's addiction entirely about yourself or you erase yourself and your emotions completely.

Neither scenario is of use to the loved one struggling with addiction or to you, either. If you are truly trying to find a way to be of service to someone you care about, there are proactive and helpful steps you can and should take.

Educate Yourself About Addiction

Just because you are personally familiar with the addiction of someone you love does not mean that you "know all there is to know" about addiction. It's a mistake to think that direct contact with someone who has an addiction is the only education you need about the reality of substance abuse. It's important to get the facts, especially since drug addiction is heavily stigmatized and there are many stereotypes and myths.

Visit government websites about drug addiction, as well as established websites such as Alcoholics Anonymous. You may also want to contact drug therapists and treatment centers to answer your questions. The more you know, the better prepared you'll be to be of assistance to your loved one.

Avoid Enabling Your Loved One

It's important to discontinue any behaviors on your part that contribute to your significant other's drug abuse. You are not helping them through your enabling; you're hurting them. It's important to stand firm in this resolution because many people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol are not above emotionally manipulating the people in their lives to get what they want.

If you are worried the person may steal from you, be careful about where you leave your money or credit card. Make sure that they aren't in the room when you put valuable items away and don't leave them alone in a room where such items are.

Stage an Intervention

An intervention isn't an easy thing to plan or participate in, which is why it's important to follow certain rules when trying to prepare one. For instance, the 12 Keys Rehab blog recommends that you not to plan an intervention without a trained professional. This is sound advice because many individuals have no idea how an intervention should go, because they’ve never staged one before.

Interventions are not about shouting matches, lashing out or promising actions you know you cannot follow through on. They are about confronting the problem— addiction. You are intervening in the life of someone you love who has been crippled by addictive behaviors. If you want the intervention to be successful, it's necessary to do research, have everyone be on the same page and allow a trained professional with experience to guide you through the process.

In closing, it's also important to take time to focus on yourself and your needs. If you've been hurt by your loved one's addiction, you may need counseling. Overcoming addiction is not easy and neither is being in a relationship with someone who struggles with drug or alcohol addiction. No matter how difficult it is, proactive steps taken to help a loved one conquer an addiction are always rewarding.

Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for an SEO company and blogs in her free time at MarComLand.com. Her articles have been published by Engaged Marriage, Ask Miss A, and Examiner.com.

Image: Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1450–1516) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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