We all want to support our friends and loved ones, especially when they are facing major challenges such as battling a substance use disorder. We often feel that if we can help them past a difficult time, things will get better. However, when dealing with substance use disorders, behaviors that are typically helpful and supportive under normal circumstances may be harmful and prolong addiction instead. If you have a friend or family member struggling with addiction, here are some behaviors to avoid.
Taking on her responsibilities
Addiction often makes it hard to follow through on your responsibilities. When substance use becomes your priority, other things tend to slide. Since these things are often important and often affect other people, it’s natural to want to step in and lend a hand when your loved one is not meeting her commitments. Under normal circumstances, this is kind, but when someone has a substance use disorder, taking over her responsibilities only shields her from the negative consequences of her substance use and allows her to continue using. Examples of taking care of a loved one’s responsibilities might include paying overdue bills, buying groceries, or doing chores for her.
Making excuses on his behalf
As with taking on the responsibilities a loved one neglects because of substance use, making excuses for him shields him from the consequences of his substance use. The classic example is calling in sick to work on your spouse’s behalf because he’s in bed with a hangover. It might mean apologizing for his bad behavior, perhaps attributing to stress behavior that is really caused by substance use or withdrawal. It’s natural to want to smooth things over, but again, making excuses only allows the behavior to continue longer.
Not setting boundaries
Setting boundaries is important in any relationship, and it’s especially important when your loved one has a substance use disorder. It can be challenging to enforce those boundaries with someone who has an addiction because the addiction typically becomes the priority. When you feel an all-consuming need to use a substance, respect for other people’s property and autonomy often gets pushed aside. If a loved one is manipulating you, taking your stuff, or disrespecting your rules, you have to be firm about the consequences. For example, if you have told her she can live with you as long as she doesn’t use in the house, you have to be firm on that boundary.
Letting her have her way
Perhaps the worst thing you can do for a loved one with a substance use disorder is just to give in and let her do what she wants. While it’s good to accept someone, flaws and all, going along with addictive behavior is only destructive in the end. Setting boundaries and refusing to make excuses or take over responsibilities often leads to conflict. If you give into these behaviors to avoid a scene, you’re not doing your loved one or yourself any favors.
Instead of enabling a loved one by doing the things described above, do what you can to get her help. Support her by listening and trying to understand what she’s going through. Be willing to help her get treatment.
Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance abuse, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.
For information on our programs,
call us today: 561-841-1296