Monday, June 15, 2015

5 Ideas To Help People With An Addict In Their Life

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By Jenna Brown

How simple life would be if you could just love someone and cure them of their addictions. How many parents, spouses or partners, aunts, uncles and children would will a loved one back to recovery, just with a prayer or a smile or a hug?

Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Addictions are something like a house fire: They have their own will and hunger and tend to burn until they have reached as much of the house as they can. When they are done, a few charred corners remain and the addiction sits there, like glowing embers, waiting for more fuel to begin burning again.

The numbers are staggering, especially when you consider spouses and other family members. The annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health found in 2010 that 23.5 million Americans over 12-years-old are addicted to alcohol or drugs and only 11 percent of those with an addiction receive treatment.

By extension, roughly 23.5 million families are touched by addiction issues. Or you could say 23.5 million loved ones are watching a relative or a friend suffer from an addiction. That leaves a lot of people, related or not, who want to know what they can do to help someone else. You can’t love them back to recovery. So, what can you do? Here are some suggestions:

Take Care of Yourself

When the plane is in trouble, an oxygen mask drops from an overhead compartment and what does the flight instructor tell you to do? They tell you to strap on your oxygen mask first, then help someone else. This exemplifies the first rule of thumb among helpers or responders: First stay strong yourself.

This is even more true when trying to help an addict. Why? Because you might be involved with that addict for years – maybe for a lifetime. So, you have to be as strong as you can be for a long, long while.

Try to stay strong spiritually, mentally and physically. Maybe the best thing you can do for an addict is to take up jogging. This will give you a terrific perspective on health in general. You will appreciate life all the more. You will participate in life – maybe join a running club. You will appreciate healthy people all the more.


Addictions are called a disease – but do you know why? Do you know the various symptoms of early, middle or late stage addictions? Do you understand how 12-Step groups work? Do you know the various counseling options? Do you know how family dynamics play out when a family member is addicted? Do you know the physical progression of the disease?


Co-dependence has many forms and many confusing definitions. It revolves around the concept that people who love an addict may be getting in the way of the addict’s recovery.

In theory, people who fall in love with someone who is an addict is making compromises and investing in those compromises on an emotional level. Many loved ones actual enable the addict, preventing recovery directly. They buy their alcohol or make excuses for them when their addiction causes problems.

In general, relationships have positive and negative factors. This is no different when one or more of the parties involved have addiction issues, but it may be more critical to make sure the relationship fosters recovery – and this can require a very steady path.

Co-dependence can be defined by example. Imagine a wife who is proud of her husband’s accomplishments, even if her husband has a drinking problem. It is in the wife’s interest to help protect the family’s reputation and deny that he has an addiction. Patterns can develop in which a spouse, in this case a wife, can actually help their partner maintain their addiction.

Meetings and Therapy

Since addiction is so tied to family dynamics – and since someone close to you could be in grave trouble – it is often helpful for husbands, wives or partners of an addict to attend 12-step meetings or to see a therapist to work out their own feelings about the problem.

One popular option is to attend “Al-Anon” meetings, which are open to the public and cater to people who have a family member of a loved one who is suffering from addictions.

On-Going Treatment

If an addiction is a disease, as it is often said to be, then it has a predictable progression, just like any other disease. Recovery also has predictable milestones that loved ones should anticipate.

According to Black Bear Lodge, a recovery and rehabilitation center, recovery from addiction can include withdrawal symptoms and a high risk of relapse, which make it advantageous for the addict to check into an in-house clinic or hospital for at least the first month.

After the initial withdrawal phase is complete, however, it is common for underlying issues that contributed to the addiction to re-appear. Issues that were left unresolved percolate back to the surface. In addition, recovery often requires dramatic life changes that can result in depression, anxiety or manic episodes that need to be monitored.

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