You don’t always get to choose who you love, and when you love an addict, it is not always easy. It is true that their addiction affects your life, just like it affects theirs. It is natural to feel helpless or be confused about what you should or shouldn’t do. Often, those who love an addict put up with their behavior because they don’t want to upset them. You feel you want to help them, but how? Maybe you have tried to help them before, and it didn’t go well. Here are some dos and don’ts when it comes to loving an addict of any kind.
Do: Attend Therapy
Support your loved one by attending therapy. If they are willing to go to therapy, go with them. Even if that means you take them there and sit in the waiting room. It is also important to go to therapy on your own and deal with some of the feelings and emotional difficulties their addiction and stress in your own life is causing you. You can be a good example for them by going to therapy.
Don’t: Place Blame
It is easy to blame them for this disease, but remember, it is out of their control. It might be difficult for you to understand how they can do this to themselves, but it is an actual brain disease that they didn’t choose. It is also easy to put the guilt on yourself for their addiction and continued abuse, but know that it is not your fault. Also, try not to blame other people in their life or events that have happened to them. Placing blame doesn’t help.
Do: Ask for Help
You cannot do this alone. I repeat: you cannot do this alone. Ask for help from extended family members and friends. If they truly care about you and your loved one, they will do whatever they can to help. You will drive yourself crazy if you try to do it on your own. You can ask for assistance finding options for drug rehab centers, or ask them to spend time with you and your loved one so they know they are cared for.
Don’t: Enable Them
You love them, so you want them to be happy and able to live their life successfully. This can be difficult because if you are giving them money, doing drugs or drinking with them, or encouraging their behavior, you are part of the problem. It is important to take a look at your own behavior and whether or not it is helping or hurting them.
Do: Stay as Long as You Can
Sticking by your loved one during an addiction is, of course, vital to their getting better. Understand that the only thing you have control over is your life. They might not change their behavior, and can only change for themselves. If you find that your life is negatively affected, and nothing seems to be changing, you might consider taking a step back, living somewhere else, or cutting off communication to let them see how much their addiction affects you. This is the most difficult part, but you must take care of yourself first.
It can be difficult to know what to do to help an addict, especially one that you love. Don’t give up on your loved one; keep loving them. Make sure you are taking care of yourself as well, or it will be difficult to take care of them. Know that their addiction is not your fault, and don’t try to help them by yourself.