Being in any kind of relationship, whether romantic, familial, or friendly, will have its challenges. If the other person is struggling with an addiction, though, then you both will have even greater obstacles to overcome along the way.
How to Aid Loved Ones Struggling with an Addiction
These situations are especially difficult to face if there is money involved: that is, if you are financially invested in the person. Of course, there is usually a lot more that ties a person to someone else than money, and those more emotional ties may tear you apart more than once, particularly if the other person has a tendency to lash out.
“What you want to do when they get into these states of emotion or acting-out is not feed the dragon.” That means not feeding into the reasoning of the person, not arguing back at every opportunity, not expecting rational behavior from a person who is not able to rationalize at the time. If you do respond more critically, then the addicted person will likely use that as ammunition in their argument, and you won’t get anywhere in changing the state of things.
Someone who is struggling with an addiction may have ups and downs, periods of emotional outbreaks and periods of calm. During the latter is when you should try and instigate a conversation geared toward getting help for him or her. A good starting point, then, is to ask the person what they think is the problem, and what may have lead them to drinking or drug use. “You don’t issue ultimatums or try and deny their reality, but instead try focusing on their concerns, talk in the language of their goals and how to reach them.” Depending on the nature of your relationship, you might know more or less about this person, but the more you know, the more you may be able to help.
Just as you shouldn’t ‘feed the dragon’ during arguments, you shouldn’t enable them in other situations, either. Adding fuel to the fire of their issues will only serve as encouragement: as an example, if you are a parent with an addicted child, then don’t offer money when you’re sure it will go toward purchasing alcohol. If a person is struggling with an addiction, then he or she needs a firm hand and guidelines. You may be trying to offer kindness and leniency, but those actions are likely to hurt their recovery in the long run. It’s much more difficult to leave a bad habit behind if the person is unable to see the consequences of their actions, or if you are unwilling to show them.
One last thing to avoid: magical thinking. This is a common term in psychology and one that is applicable in this situation. Essentially, magical thinking is when you think along the lines of ‘I forgot to make coffee this morning and that’s why he drank more,’ or ‘I got out of work early and so she didn’t use drugs today.’ Trying to connect dots in this way may make you feel better in the moment, but almost always, those connections are meaningless. Having those ‘theories’ proved wrong will make you feel even worse in the long run.
There is a lot that goes into help someone struggling with an addiction, someone you care about. To give them their best chance at recovery, contact The Bergand Group. We offer recovery programs for yourself or for others or are seeking education materials about addictions. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center and offers support for those struggling with drug addiction and mental health issues, including direction for those who may be denying an addiction. We can help you to work through your addiction in a safe and healthy environment where everyone is committed to your care.
About The Bergand Group:
At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehab and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.