How to Deal with An Addicted Family Member

How to Deal with an Addicted Family Member

When someone you love, be it a sibling, parent, child or other family member, is abusing drugs and alcohol, it can seem like the person that you know and love has completely disappeared. Maybe they were always kind and you now find them vicious and aggressive. Perhaps they were once soft spoken and now they scream obscenities at you. Maybe they are lying to you, or stealing from you or making your life miserable. You know the person that you love is still in there, but how do you deal with an addicted family member when they are using.

Realize that the reason for the behavior is the drugs and alcohol, not you

 

When someone is addicted and actively using drugs and alcohol, it is almost as if they are hijacked. The desperation and insanity that comes with drinking and using can (and often does) completely override a person’s natural instinct and personality.

Often times, loved ones can personalize the things that an addicted family member or friend does or says. Realizing (and accepting) that the drugs and alcohol are to blame for the painful words and behaviors – NOT you – can be helpful in dealing with the hurt feelings that come along with dealing with an addicted family member.

 

Set Boundaries

 

Even though the person that you love is struggling with addiction, and the drugs and alcohol are having a profound effect on their behavior, this does not give them an excuse to abuse you or make your life difficult.

Setting boundaries is essential to keeping your sanity when dealing with an addicted family member. Set out clear guidelines for your loved ones on what behavior is unacceptable and what the consequences will be if they choose to engage in such behavior. If the behavior comes up, follow through with your consequences. Perhaps this means not allowing them in your house if they choose to be volatile, or that they will be unable to use the family car if you suspect they have been using. Whatever the case may be, make sure that everyone knows the established boundaries and what will happen if they are violated.

 

Take care of yourself

 

When you are dealing with an addicted family member, it is easy to spend so much time and energy caring for them that you forget to take care of yourself. Selfcare is essential for maintaining a sense of inner peace amidst the chaos of addiction. Get a massage, read a book, call a friend, get away for a few days. Whatever it is that refreshes you and recharges your batteries, make sure that you schedule time for it.

Dealing with an addicted family member is never easy. But there are definitely ways that you can cope on the road to recovery. What are some of the ways that you have dealt with a family member in active addiction? What advice would you give other families that may be going through this?

 

1Comment
  • M.M.
    Posted at 10:32h, 09 January Reply

    This information is so true! I know this from my own experience both as an alcoholic/addict and as one who loves family who are alcoholics and addicts. Going to Alanon helps me keep accepting my powerlessness over another’s addiction, whether they are using OR if they are in recovery. I have learned that part of my disease of Alcoholism is the reaction it generates in me: the compulsion to control others to relieve me of my fear, of MY discomfort. The reminder of “their bottom is different than mine” is so helpful. It helps me not get emotionally enmeshed with another, and not to interfere with consequences of their addiction. Those consequences may be vital information for them. And in any event, I am powerless to manage the process. It’s my illusion that tells me I can make a difference. The first step helps me see and accept that. The rest of the steps and a sponsor help me with “–so what do I do now?” Alanon meetings are a lifeline for me.

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