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How to Help a Family Member Cope with Drug Addiction

by: Eric Dunbar

Drug addiction has become a much venerated topic among families. This heartless enemy does not discriminate. Any family can become a victim of drug addiction at any time. Having discovered that a member of your family has a problem with drug addiction how do you help them cope with it?

What does it mean to cope with a drug addiction? Coping with, or attempting to manage an addiction is without a doubt a very difficult undertaking. In fact, it was one of the most difficult things that I have ever done, and after reading this article I am sure you will agree that there is but one way to cope with drug addiction, and that is to turn away from it because drug addiction is unmanageable.

Addiction makes a complete slave of an individual because the addicted person is no longer in control of anything they say, do, feel or think. Anyone who has ever had a serious addiction to a drug will tell you that during their addiction they lost control of the things that made life enjoyable, and they did not regain that control until they had walked away from the drug. Easier to say than it is to do, the difficulty is in turning away.

During my twelve year crack cocaine addiction I seriously tried everything within my power to manage it, which included advice from friends, family, and others who were coping with some type of addiction but nothing worked for me. If there is such a thing a 101 ways to manage your addiction, then I have tried them all.

If you have a family member who is addicted to some type of substance I hope you will find these tips quite useful.

Deal with yourself first

The shock of being made aware that there’s a drug addict in your family will cause the addiction to immediately begin working at destroying the family bond, beginning with you. You will be in no position to help that family member until you can help yourself to get past the initial shock of their addiction.

I remember how surprised my family was when they found out that I was addicted to crack. They were so shocked, in a way they alienated themselves from me. Although I was aware that they knew about my addiction, I guess they were just too shocked to approach me.

How you deal with your own emotions will directly affect how you approach that addicted family member, so the first thing you need to do is “get over it”. You may not like the fact that your husband is addicted, but it is what it is. Now that you see the situation for what it is, move quickly to the next step.

Find middle ground

Addiction has nothing in common with family. The two are at opposite ends of the field. Finding a place of commonality is the only way to insure that you will be able to communicate with an addict, so do not waste time finding it. Begin looking for something – anything that you might have in common with the addicted person and use it as a tool to win back their affection. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will become.

Re-establishing a bond is the only way to bridge the void between understanding and addiction. A good place to start is by being sensitive to the strange behavior of the addicted family member. You must realize that they are not the same person you once knew because they have undergone chemical changes in their mind and body.

For me, the more crack I smoked the less time I wanted to spend with my family. The drug dominated me so much until nothing else mattered. Without really being aware, I built a wall that nobody could penetrate.

The one thing that irritated me more than anything was to be constantly scolded and ridiculed because of my drug use. I knew I needed help, but the more I was told that I was a drug addict, the more I distanced myself. So whatever you do be sensitive and don’t scold.

Stop enabling

No doubt you have heard of “tough love”. The best way to describe tough love is love that will not be compromised, nor be taken advantage of. After you’ve gotten over the initial shock that you have a drug addict in the family, you should immediately start to exhibit tough love.

If you know that your daughter Megan has a problem with drugs you should stop giving her money. Although it hurts you to see Megan without money, if you continue as her banker it will only enable her to continue in her addictive behavior.

Seek professional help

Drug addicts have a unique way of making family and friends feel guilty when they are the ones who should be experiencing guilt. An addict will do anything to continue using the substance of their addiction.

Do whatever you have to do to get that family member to agree to seek the help of a professional. You cannot force the decision upon them; they must make that decision on their own.

Usually an addict will not surrender until they have exhausted every available option that would allow them to continue using the substance of their abuse. It is called “hitting rock bottom”. Such a decision often comes after a long hard bout with addiction, health issues, starvation, and living arrangements.

Be supportive

Once that addicted family member has decided to seek help, do not hesitate to follow through with them on their decision. Addicts have been known to change their mind about seeking professional help within an hour of making the promise.

At this point it is important that you be supportive of their actions because they are very vulnerable. Like little children, they are frightened and at the same time they look forward to experiencing freedom from the awful burden of drug addiction.

It took eleven years for me to make the decision to seek professional help and another year of up and down drugging before I finally gained my freedom. Had the above mentioned elements not been present in my life I believe I would have been lost in the sea of drug addiction where misery never ends.

Just so that you understand that every battle fought against addiction is unique and you should always remember that addiction attacks different people in different ways. I encourage you to never give up on that beloved family member because if you are persistent you can win. You can only lose if you quit fighting.

See Also:

Living With An Alcoholic
Living with an addict of any kind is always difficult, especially when you love them and they are part of your family. Addictive behavior is very destructive and the addict can unwittingly ruin the life of their loved ones.

Living With An Alcoholic – Don’t Forget To Have A Life
Often people who live with an alcoholic spend much if, not all, of their time looking after the drinker. They worry about when he will arrive home, even if he will arrive home.

Addictions and Your Cross to Bear
Two little stories contain some spiritual truths that can help the addict or alcoholic look at the way they are living their lives. If you think that your troubles are worse than anyone else's you will remain in self-pity.

Addiction - 60 Day Key Fob And A Powerful Thirst
I have worked in the addictions field now for 12 years, and I am certainly baffled. We had the honor of watching and walking through, the painful excavating and facing of, the dark places inside a young adult I'll call Peter.

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About the Author:

Eric Dunbar is the owner and editor of Golden Entrepreneur, where you will find outstanding resources to help the online entrepreneur excel in business. Eric Dunbar is also the author of THE FACE OF A DEMON, referred to by many as “The Recovering Addict’s Handbook”, and editor of X-JOURNAL Blog

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