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For Families: Helping the Addict

It seems counterintuitive but the worst thing families can do to "help" someone struggling with an addiction is to rescue them from the consequences of their behaviour.

Watching a loved one destroying their life is very difficult and would evoke a rescuing response in many people. After all people want to fix things for their loved ones and to make all the pain go away. Unfortunately this is the worst thing to do. People with addictions are not bad people but they have a very tricky illness. While people are making there addictive behaviour easier for them by removing the consequences, the addict will find no reason to stop the behaviour. It is often only when the addict can see the true nature of their illness (consequences and all) that they find a reason to change. 

The most helpful thing you can do as family member is to not enable their illness to continue:

Do not:

Give an addict money

Lie for them

Make excuses.

Do:

Tell them that when they are ready to change you will do your best to support them.

Help them to find treatment when appropriate. 

Have clear boundaries. For example, while you are using you can not live in this house.