Tips on how to love an addict

Those in active addiction enjoy a wealth of how-to guides on the road to recovery, but the same cannot be said for their loved ones. It can be difficult to find trusted resources – specifically those meant to assist friends and family members who are suffering alongside their addicted loved ones.

Many times, loved ones are unable to recognize their own co-dependencies and how those traits can contribute to the disease of addiction. That’s because they’re often emotionally mired in addiction, giving addiction its manipulative power.

Tips to Shut Down the Manipulation

If you (or someone you know) is being manipulated by an addicted loved one, the tips below can help to loosen his manipulative grip.

#1   Help to See Reality

Call it willful denial or dissociative fantasy, but over time, loved ones typically begin to create false realities of their situation. When fear overcomes hope, these fantasies assist to assuage pain. Before any help can be offered, you must be able to objectively and clearly view the reality of the situation.

#2   Discuss Boundaries

Whether it’s physical, social or emotional boundaries, loved ones must strive to keep addiction – and perhaps the addict – at arm’s length. Though it can be difficult in many cases, setting boundaries offers a better field of vision and loosens emotional entanglement. You have to set practical boundaries; without them, you unwittingly placate or feed the addiction.

#3   Promote Self-Care

When a loved one donates all of their time and energy to an addict, their self-worth suffers, making them a huge target for manipulation. An aspect of boundary setting – self-care – takes the focus off addiction and provides you with the space necessary to enjoy some personal time. Go on vacation, see a movie or take up activities that realign your focus on something other than an addicted loved one.

#4   Actively Listen

Although it may seem obvious, active listening is an important part of confronting a loved one about his drug abuse. Many people feel alone and stranded in their world of loving an addict. By listening to what he has to say, you’ll be better equipped to offer suggestions. In almost all social interactions, throwing out “you should’s” without first listening will be met with resistance.

#5   Differentiate Helping and Enabling

The word “no” is addiction’s least favorite word. You might think you’re helping an addict, but in reality, you’re enabling the disease to continue. Like it or not, giving an addict money or a free place to stay actually encourages the situation and emboldens manipulative behavior.

#6   Provide a Positive Presence

Manipulation preys on the sad, lonely and disheartened, emotions that generally accompany addiction-fueled relationships. Truth be told, a simple smile or friendly gesture can go a long way in re-identifying an emotional center. Positivity is contagious; it encourages change the in the status quo of sadness.

#7   Discuss Codependency

Unwittingly, many loved ones become addicted to their loved one’s addiction. In other words, you’re playing the role of “rescuer” or “fixer” in a world of addiction-fueled chaos. By discussing codependency issues, you’ll introduce the notion that changes are required of everyone to show that recovery is possible.

#8   Encourage Tough Love

Although this may be difficult, loved ones need to hear that “tough love” may be the only option. Many addicts halfheartedly seek treatment when people are no longer willing to support their drug habits or encourage their lifestyles. By suggesting and discussing any applicable consequences, as they may be necessary to stop the manipulation.

#9   Introduce Support Programs

It’s important to know you’re not alone in this plight; millions are affected by the disease of addiction. In some cases, the associated stigma and shame is so overwhelming that it prevents friends and family members from seeking help. Do some simple research to find local support groups like Al-Anon, where you’ll meet others fighting similar battles against the manipulation and destruction of addiction.

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