Each September, National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month is celebrated in communities across the U.S. to help people recognize that substance abuse disorders are treatable and recovery is possible.
To draw attention to this important event, Seal Press authors Karen Franklin and Lauren King—who are also mother and daughter—are offering helpful, first-hand, advice to families on how to deal with a loved one in the grips of addiction.
Franklin and King are the authors of Addicted Like Me: A Mother-Daughter Story of Substance Abuse and Recovery, a personal account of addiction and how it affects the entire family. Both have struggled with addiction, and now work to help others in the recovery process. To help the families of the more than 22 million people in this country are addicted to drugs or alcohol, the two have come up with a set of eye-opening tips detailing the top five mistakes families make when dealing with addiction:
Mistake One: Bailing Them Out
Most addicts are in deep denial that they have a problem that is affecting their lives, and will never accept help if friends and family make it easy for them. It will be impossible for them to face the truth until they begin to feel some of the repercussions of their bad decisions.
Mistake Two: Trying to Control Their Behavior
When trying to control addictive behavior it generally ends up in frustration and disappointment. Addiction is a disease that manifests itself through the addict’s words and actions. The best thing we can do for our loved ones is to empower them to enter treatment and seek assistance in changing their own lives.
Mistake Three: Giving Them More Chances
Many times when a loved one is abusing drugs they become willing to protect their secret at any cost. This includes telling family members what they want to hear. Most addicts will promise they’ll change with convincing sincerity, but we must remember they are in the grips of a disease that will ultimately drive their behavior.
Mistake Four: Waiting For the Bottom to Fall Out
The problem with waiting for every addict to hit rock bottom is some will die, get arrested, or suffer great, irreversible harm before they get there. All addicts have their own bottom when they decide enough is enough. Get help for yourself and connect with professionals that can guide you to help raise the addict’s bottom.
Mistake Number Five: Wasting a Good Crisis
There may be only one opportunity to approach the addict and convince them to enter treatment. Don’t blow that chance. A crisis event can be that opportunity. Facing real consequences can wake some addicts up. Any intervention, either formal or informal, is an attempt to convince an addict that they’re at their bottom, and it’s time to change.
Franklin offers some additional insight:
“Addiction can happen to anyone, and families need to understand that ignoring signs or blaming others isn’t going to help. There isn’t any shame in having a family member that’s struggling, there’s only shame if you don’t reach out and seek help.”