When someone you love suffers from a substance use disorder, you want them to quit, get better and make better choices. However, many of those without addiction don’t understand that it’s not that easy.
Addiction is a disease and like any other disease, you can’t just cure someone. But many people will try because they believe that love and willpower are enough. It’s not. There are things that people do thinking they are helping their loved one, but those mistakes delay, impede and sabotage someone’s chances for recovery.
Here are three mistakes that are often made by an addict’s support system.
Believing you know what’s best for your loved one by trying to distract them from their path
Holistic-evidence treatments with detox are usually the best way to help someone overcome addiction. However, everyone knows someone who’s suffered from mental health issues or an addiction. This is where people believe what worked for others in recovery can work for your loved one.
For example, if Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) worked for a coworker who drank for several years, but now is happy in recovery.
It’s understandable that he–and you–would swear AA works for everyone. But, it doesn’t. Recovery isn’t just about willpower. For many people, it’s a brain-changer chemically. AA can’t fix the chemistry of someone’s brain or solve the problems that led up to someone’s addiction. However, AA does work well for people. Many people in recovery attend meetings every day for decades to maintain their sobriety.
Insisting there’s only one road to recovery is stubbornly naive. Keep this in mind: just because someone doesn’t want to do it your way, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to do it at all.
Constantly keeping track of your loved one’s calendar, actions and whereabouts
Nothing is more annoying than someone who constantly checks up on you. For someone to recover, they need to take control of their addiction and progress.
If you criticize someone for missing a meeting, appointment, or have a lack of engagement in recovery it will only lead to arguments.
The person with substance use disorder is not only fighting addiction, but they are also fighting tyranny by loved ones. They are the ones who must do the work on their own terms.
Rather than criticize, encourage and help your loved one to continue taking steps towards recovery.
Sharing privileged information
Telling others your loved one has a problem is not only distrustful, but it will cause more problems and arguments. Your loved one in recovery will feel they are being ganged up on, which will make them become defensive and retreat. This means that they are more at risk of relapsing.
Micromanaging also is harmful because your loved one will become even more secretive about their behaviours, especially if they relapse.
Keep their personal information to yourself unless it’s an emergency. Your loved one considers you in their circle of trust and once that trust is broken, you may never get it back.
Your support, regardless of your loved one’s choices, is vital. Recovery is about taking control of one’s life. Do not rob your loved one of their control. Instead, focus on support, constructive feedback, ask questions and provide help when you can.