Supporting Loved Ones
If we think of addiction as a car crash, using an illegal substance or unhealthy activity represents the car crashing. The moments leading up to the car crash represent unresolved feelings of pressure, stress, difficult life experiences, and being unable to cope.
Those are the moments where your support is especially valuable. It is not your car to fix, but you can help put the pieces back together or call for help for your loved one. If left unaddressed, these moments create pathways into addiction, according to scientific studies of drug abuse in adults and in adolescents.
It’s very important to check in on your loved ones, openly communicate, and learn how to best support them. You have the power to remind them they are loved and are not alone. A study completed by Ami Rokach & Tricia Orzeck for the Social Science and Medicine journal notes the significance of loneliness in drug addiction. Loneliness is also very common in behavioural addiction, such as to the internet.
There are ways to navigate communicating with someone facing addiction and mental health issues. Some of those ways may include:
- Boundary setting
- Creating conversation environments where no one is judged or made to feel lesser than the other person.
- Using speech that focuses on ‘I” and not “you”.
- Emphasizing the needs of your loved one rather than your own.
Spinning Out Of Control
If this feels out of your control, consider suggesting counselling or a treatment centre specializing in addiction. This would allow your loved one to discuss what’s going on with a trained professional and seek out help. Remind them that there is no perfect time to receive treatment. Likewise, you don’t have to already hit rock bottom to receive treatment either.
Remember that addiction doesn’t have a certain look. It’s crucial to treat your loved one with care, attention, and generosity where possible. They are people and don’t deserve to be given up on. At the same time, it’s important not to cover up issues brought on by addiction. Your loved one will have to manage and deal with the consequences of their actions in order to move forward.
It’s Not Your Fault
It’s important not to beat yourself or your loved one up emotionally for not living up to expectations. The more your loved ones lean into addiction feeling alone or shamed, the more likely they are to bond to their unhealthy coping mechanisms.
You may not be able to single-handedly stop your loved one from turning to addiction; it has to come from them. They are in the driver’s seat of their car. However, the more support they feel, the less likely they are to relapse later on. It’s important that you don’t lose sight of your needs when trying to help a loved one too.
If you would like more advice tailored to you or a loved one, please reach out to our team via our phone number at the top of our website or our contact form. We know this can be a confusing or angering situation, and we’re here to support you.