How to help a family member with addiction
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Getting a loved one with a substance use disorder (SUD) the help they need.

There is nothing so sad as seeing someone you care for battle a substance problem. Families know firsthand that the fallout of the SUD affects all members. Addiction is surely a family disease, with plenty of pain to go around.

Your loved one may have hit bottom and you wish to guide them toward rehab. This may be harder than it seems. Learning about the best ways to approach a family member about seeking help is key. At the same time, the family must learn how to avoid unhealthy actions that only make the situation worse.

While the focus should be on getting the family member into treatment, loved ones can get tangled up in the disease. It is essential that the rest of the family also learn how to preserve wellness. Learning healthy ways to cope with a family member’s SUD is crucial for the whole family.

What is Codependency?

Codependency is very common between people who have a SUD and a close loved one. This is very common between the spouse or parent of the addicted person. Often coming from a sincere desire to help the person struggling with the SUD, codependency stems from mutual neediness. In the end it can end up harming both parties.

From the outside, a codependent relationship may appear to involve one sick person and one healthy person. In truth, though, these relationships consist of two sick people. Codependency develops between the one who is struggling with the disease of addiction, and the other. The “healthy” person becomes so wrapped up in micromanaging their loved one’s life they become entrenched in the toxic dynamic.

Over time, the person claiming to be caring for and helping the person with the SUD becomes as sick as their loved one. They allow their own life to be put on hold. They become martyrs, letting their health go, and putting all their time and effort toward the person with the SUD.

What is Enabling?

Because a family member loves the person with the SUD, they will go to any lengths to save them. This means they will lie for them, cover for them, pay their bills, and bail them out of problems. This is called enabling. When a family member enables their loved one they are only keeping them stuck in the SUD.

Again, this dysfunction also comes from a sincere love for the person. Mothers are especially prone to enabling their addicted sons or daughters. They put out fires for them and try their hardest to protect their adult child from the consequences. But this always backfires. The addict will never be inspired to get sober and enter treatment if they do not feel the pain of their SUD. If all their needs are being met, why change?

How to Approach an Addicted Loved One

As a loving family member, you only want what’s best for the member with the SUD. The challenge is getting them to heed your advice and go in for treatment. Many are not ready to give up the substance yet. They may still cling to the addict lifestyle, the friends, and the substance itself.

For the family, it is very painful to witness the person’s descent due to the SUD. But all you can really do is this:

  • Get prepared. Learn all about the SUD, as knowing what you are dealing with is a must. Get informed by reading up on the SUD and what treatment options there are.
  • Check insurance benefits. Contact the insurance provider to get the details about what is covered and what is not. The agent can break it all down for you, and explain your out of pocket expense.
  • Get some support. The loved ones of someone with a SUD are often depleted, scared, and depressed. Heed the signs that you need help, too. See a therapist, join Al-anon, and stay active to maintain your own health.
  • Offer your support. Your loved one needs to know that you will be there for them. Let them know that your love and support is always there, but make sure they know it is emotional support.
  • Stage an intervention. If your loved one shows no signs of going in for treatment, the family may want to stage an intervention. These meetings can be very persuasive in getting the person to accept help.

Guiding a Loved One to Treatment

If your loved one has agreed to go in for treatment, congrats! The rehab program will consist of many types of therapy and classes that will help them change their life. These include:

  • Detox. Detox will launch the program. The detox process allows the body to adjust to the absence of the substance.
  • One-on-one talk therapy. Talk therapy allows you to work with a therapist to target unhealthy thought patterns and make changes.
  • Group therapy. Peer group sessions allow you to share your own stories and feelings with others. Topics revolve around recovery.
  • Family group. Family group sessions allow family members to come together in support of their loved one. They learn better ways to communicate, how to set boundaries, and how to avoid unhealthy relating.
  • 12-step. The 12-step program is sometimes included in the rehab schedule.
  • Classes. Learning about SUDs and how they impact the brain can help someone avoid relapse. They also learn new coping skills and how to create their own relapse prevention plan.
  • Holistic. Learning how to manage mental health is key. Rehabs now include things like yoga, meditation, and fitness in the schedule.

When you want to help a family member with addiction, try to offer your love and support while avoiding dysfunction. The best results come when everyone is healthy.

LifeSync Malibu Can Help Your Family Member

LifeSync Malibu is a luxury rehab program for helping people break free from SUD. If your family member is struggling with a SUD, reach out to our team for guidance. Call us today at (866) 491-4426.