How to respond to addiction in your household

As a result of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the vast majority of us are spending a lot more time at home than usual. For many, this means binge watching boxsets, playing games with the family and trying to cook or bake new recipes together. However, this is unfortunately not the case for everyone out there, particularly those living with a family member who is suffering from an addiction. For these, it can be a particularly challenging and problematic time, so we have decided to write this blog in an effort to help you get through these tough times, and ultimately help you and your loved ones.

It’s well documented the impact addictions, particularly drugs and alcohol, have on the substance abusers themselves. It will deteriorate both their physical health and mental health and be hugely damaging to their quality of life. However, not every one considers the effect an individual’s addiction has on their immediate family. Addiction is a family disease. For everyone individual who is struggling with an addiction, there are many more family members, friends and loved ones suffering along with them. The physical and mental health of loved ones are substantially impacted as a result of addiction, as well as family finances. At Tabor Group, we recognise the need for support for family members of individuals suffering from addiction and have a Family Programme in place where we offer counselling, support and intervention skills for loved ones.

So, in order to help any of you in this crisis situation at home right now, we have some guidelines with some do’s and don’ts when dealing with your addicted family member.

Don’ts

Firstly, do not expect your loved one to quit just by asking them straight out. Their addiction is usually bigger and more powerful than they are themselves and sometimes even for the love of their family. It’s completely and utterly overwhelming to the addicted person. Saying things such as, “If you cared for me at all, you would quit”, rarely, if ever, does any good. It’s going to take a little more work, so be prepared to accept this and get started on a solution.

Do not ever put yourself in the position with the individual suffering from addiction where they can either mentally or even physically abuse you. It’s very important if you are in any way vulnerable yourself to find your own support for you. Feeling embarrassed or even ashamed by this situation is perfectly natural, but it is essential to speak out for yourself and for your own protection. This can be to another family member, friend, counsellor or even law enforcement if necessary. Remember that you cannot help your loved one if you are mentally or physically unwell yourself.

Do not presume that your loved one will instantly go to rehab after the first conversation you have with them. This may be more challenging than that and you may even need to have an intervention by either a professional or by gathering all family and friends together. Sometimes tough love is needed, and this means taking away any means of escape including money and shelter so that rehabilitation is their only option.

Do not expect that everything will be resolved instantly as a result of your loved one going to rehab. Rehabilitation is a long and ongoing process. You will need to be there along their journey to love, guide and support them.

Do’s

It’s vitally important that your balance and integrity is sustained throughout the process. You should never allow the individual suffering from addiction persuade you into thinking that you are the one that’s in the wrong or that you’re wrong for seeing the issues. Also, never let your loved one entice you in to using the substance they are addicted to with them.

Do some research and find an addiction rehabilitation centre that would best suit your loved one. Ask lots of questions before you make any decisions, if you do have options available to you. It’s always good to find out how the program works, as it should make sense to you. We would also advise speaking to an individual who has gone through the program if at all possible, as it’s an excellent way of finding out useful information first-hand.

Support and stand by your loved one if it is humanly possible. They need you now more than they have ever needed anyone. The addiction convinces people that they are worthless, but with support from loved ones the chances of success and turning their life around are far greater. There are times, particularly when children are involved, that you need to step away from the situation, but if you can, support your loved one and encourage their recovery as best you can.

Stand firm and insist that rehabilitation is the correct and only answer for your loved one’s addiction. Families living with addiction always love in terror of that dreaded knock on the door or phone call to tell them their loved one has been jailed, injured or even worse. They are constantly filled with empty promises from their loved one that they are going to quit, or it’s their last time, but it never is. Finding the right addiction centre program can be the only solution.

Finally, if you are staging an intervention, make sure it’s coming from the right place. Ensure it doesn’t turn into an argument or blame game. It needs to be done from a caring and loving place. Criticism or an angry tone will result in pushing your loved one away further. It will just lead to them feeling guilty and eventually turning to their addicted substance again as a method of coping with this guilt. Tell them that you love them and that you are here to support them with their recovery journey.

Tabor Group

At Tabor Group, we have a family support group set up and designed to guide family members and loved ones through the tough times when someone is in treatment and/or striving for recovery. Contact the Family Programme on 021 488 7110.

Our Family Support Services include:

  • One to one family meetings in Tabor Lodge
  • Four-week family programme at Tabor Lodge
  • Family support groups in Cork City
  • Intervention advice and support
  • Referrals to other agencies

Tabor Group is a leading provider of residential addiction treatment services in Ireland. We provide support and care to hundreds of clients suffering from addictions to alcohol, substances, gambling and eating disorders. For more information on Tabor Group’s services, click here.

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