Handling a family member’s substance abuse

March 27, 2014

Does someone in your family suffer from substance abuse?

Living with this is very challenging

1. Educate yourself. Get advice from someone who knows. Sit in on an AA meeting and talk to the people running it as well as the people in recovery. If anyone knows what your loved one is going through, it’s these people. They can be a great resource to you. Once you get an understanding of what’s happening with him/her, it will be easier for you to handle the situation effectively.

2. Try to keep your home a happy and healthy space. This is especially important if you have children. Include your loved one to engage in whatever actives you may be doing, whether or not he/she is drinking or using. It’s good for him/her to engage in these fun activities that don’t include drinking or using.

3. Freely talk about the drug or alcohol use normally. Don’t hide it from your loved one or his/her family. It’s important for him/her to know that you all are aware and aren’t afraid to face this reality, including the consequences that surround it.

4. Let him/her deal with the consequences. It’s not your job to cover for him/her, this is part of being open and aware of the habit. If you’re visiting family and he/she doesn’t make it because he/she is drunk or high, don’t cover for him/her. Chances are your family already knows. It’s better for him/her to learn from his/her mistakes, than to let you cover them up, which enables him/her to continue with this substance use.

5. Remember that it’s not your fault. It’s not your fault that your loved one chose this path; you did not cause him/her to become an addict, so you have no reason to feel guilty. Once you let go of this guilt, you can start helping him/her.

6. Don’t argue when he/she is drunk or high. Having important discussions or arguments while your loved one isn’t sober is not only frustrating but counter effective as well.

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