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Supporting Someone Battling Addiction Without Enabling Them

Patient Center
08.09.2020

When a loved one is battling addiction, it doesn’t just affect them – it affects everyone around them, too. Supporting them without enabling them is a balancing act – a walk across a high wire. It can be mentally, emotionally and financially taxing for those who are walking it. While supporting someone battling addiction without enabling them isn’t easy or simple, it is important. And there are a few dos and don’ts of supporting a loved one with SUD to keep in mind to be the best loved one or caregiver you can be while helping your loved one on their journey to recovery.

How to Support Someone Battling Addiction

While you may feel exhausted and at your wits end, know that your support is crucial for your loved one’s recovery. Having a strong support system gives someone recovering from SUD something positive to hold on to. It motivates their initial and maintained recovery, driving higher success.

Here are 6 tips to help you support someone battling addiction:

  1. Express care and concern in a calm way. Be honest about your feelings. The vulnerability will create a safe space of sharing for your loved one to reciprocate their own feelings and experiences.
  2. Be direct while also kind and supportive. When talking with someone battling addiction, don’t dance around the issues. It’s okay to be direct with them. But always remember that kindness and caring should be at the forefront of that directness, as it shows that you are on their side.
  3. Bring them along. Invite that person on sober outings or to sober activities. Including them in ways that they can enjoy life drug or alcohol free helps them both before and during recovery.
  4. Find ways to be there and help. Finding little ways to help out without crossing the line into enabling shows that you care and gives that person just one more person to place in their gratitude column in the pros and cons list of sobriety.
  5. Educate yourself. By educating yourself on addiction, treatment and recovery, you can be there to aid in treatment conversations, providing invaluable help and support to your loved one.
  6. Practice self-care. As we mentioned, caring for someone battling addiction can be mentally and emotionally draining. So be sure to practice self-care for yourself, as well. Taking the time you need to be the best version of yourself allows you to be the best person for them as well.

What to Avoid With Someone Battling Addiction

Many people’s greatest concern when supporting an addict is how much is too much? When am I crossing the line to enabling them? It’s a tricky line to toe and falling into enabling that person can be dangerous for both of you.

Here are 5 things to avoid with someone who is battling addiction:

  1. Don’t ignore the problem. It is, understandably, hard to accept when someone you love falls victim to addiction. However, ignoring addiction will not make it go away and can allow the severity of the situation to increase as addiction is a progressive disease.
  2. Don’t think less of them. Addiction is a medical disease and shouldn’t carry the social stigmas currently associated with it. Because addiction is often attributed to genetic history combined with environmental factors, it is no failure on that person for falling victim to it. By treating them as less or removing them from your life because of their addiction, you could add to the trauma they’re experiencing which contributes to the progression of the disease.
  3. Don’t provide ultimatums. Tough love is rarely the answer when it comes to addiction. Rather than forcing an ultimatum on your loved one battling addiction and potentially opening the door for abandonment, focus on how you can be there and encourage them instead.
  4. Don’t get discouraged by relapse. Relapse is an emotional moment for everyone involved, and many caretakers see it as a sign of failure. But just like everything else, relapse can be just a bump in the road of recovery as long as you’re there to support that person as they move forward.
  5. Don’t cross the line to enabling them. Ways to enable someone battling an addiction include giving them money, paying for things they can’t pay for because their money is supporting their addiction, telling them it’s okay, lying for them and helping them get out of trouble. Supporting vs. enabling is a fine line because, for many, it is difficult to watch someone’s life unravel. But there are better ways to support your loved one than this.
  6. Don’t give up. Giving up on someone battling addiction is never the answer. There is hope! By helping them find the right treatment and opportunities for ongoing support during recovery, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Discussing More Advanced Treatment

If your loved one’s addiction is too much for them to manage on their own, and outpatient programs are no longer successful in preventing relapse, it may be time to look into advanced addiction treatment at Wellbridge. Our individualized treatment programs are guided by the latest addiction treatment research and put the integrity of every patient at the forefront of our care.

Contact us today if you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction to discuss advanced residential care.