It is difficult dealing with a family member who is struggling with an addiction. It takes intentional listening, meaningful communication, avenues for change, and self-care to persevere.
Pay attention to what your loved one is saying and doing. Listen to both verbal and nonverbal cues. What are the warning signs? Those struggling with addiction will usually voice warning signs, or these can be found in their body language.
One parent I worked with said she could tell her teenage son was struggling because he was no longer himself. Signs he showed were constant restlessness, sleeping during non-traditional hours, and irritability. After doing a sweep of his room she found a stash of drugs. It wasn’t until the family confronted the matter that they knew what was actually going on.
The worst thing you can do is keep quiet. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open to your family member who has an addiction.
Asking questions and seeking answers is not being invasive, in fact it shows them you really care. Even if your loved one is not forthcoming, keep pursuing them and don’t be afraid to ask them questions. Supportive questions are helpful, for example, “How are you doing?” and “Is there something we can talk about?”
Talking does not have to equate to confrontation. Remember to be kind, attentive, and honest.
This is a term that you might have heard about. But what does it really mean? Tough love is really honesty. It is how we speak the truth to what really matters. It is really the act of climbing out of denial and demonstrating to our family member that we want to help them, and not enable them.
This can mean taking away certain privileges, or not lending them money or material