1. Reality Check.
You need to accept the parts of your life that are spiraling out of control because you love a person who is battling with addictive behaviors. The addiction could be drugs, alcohol, smoking, eating disorders, overspending, gambling, codependency, or a host of other addictions.
You may find yourself asked for money or favors often and feel guilty if you say no. You might be walking around on eggshells around the addict to keep the peace and no upset them. Favors you are asked to do might include watching their children or doing common everyday errands.
Things are not going to magically get better one day. You need to face the reality that simply wishing that things would get better does not make them get better.
2. You Cannot Fix Them.
Trying to control or “fix” the addict in your life will not work. The only person you can control is yourself. An addict struggles with controlling their own impulses. How can you expect to control their life when they are grasping for ways to do it themselves?
3. You Have Nobody To Blame But Yourself.
It’s tempting, sometimes even easy, to blame the addict in your life for many or all of your own problems. Undoubtedly, the addict has contributed their fair share of trouble in your life, however, it is more productive to examine how you are contributing to this situation. What are you doing to turn things around in your own life?
4. Learn to Distinguish Between Helping and Enabling.
It is a common fear that not providing help can leave an addict in a much worse predicament. When you provide an addict with money, allow them to stay at your home, drive them places when they need it, or go back on healthy boundaries you have established with them, you are actually engaging in unhealthy behaviors that are not helping the addict. This is often referred to as “enabling”.
You need to look at the choices you are making in regards to your enabling behavior and make an honest and truthful assessment. This will help you to recognize when you are engaging in such behavior and to make choices that will help your loved one rather than enabling them.
A very simple example of this is telling them that you are no longer willing to listen to them complain about their lives and their troubles. However, you are there for them as soon as they are willing to get serious about facing and solving their problems.
5. Do Not Be Manipulated.
Addicts hate to hear the word “no.” If they are not in a position yet where they are ready to change their behaviors, they often resort to manipulating those around them in order to keep feeding their addiction. This can include everything from lying, to cheating, to tugging on the emotions of those close to them to get what they are after.
The more that you allow them to use this type of behavior on you, the more manipulative they will become. You need to hold your ground and not give in. It may be hard. It may hurt. They may say some awful, and hateful things to you, but it is the only way to truly help them.
6. Reach Out For Help.
Don’t wait for things to get really bad. Many times when those who are dealing with a loved one’s addictive behavior do finally reach out for help, they have been dealing with the situation for a long, long time. They often just keep waiting and waiting to see if things will get better without professional help. They keep giving their loved one another chance and another chance to change things on their own.
Do not wait. The sooner that you reach out for help, the better it is for everyone concerned.