Many of us have an addict in our lives, whether that person’s addiction is alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, compulsive spending or sex it’s still an addiction. People associate getting sober as something we do from drugs and alcohol, but it can be a variety of things. Regardless of what the “drug” of choice is, it’s difficult to kick the habit. What makes it harder is that there are other relationship dynamics and feelings at play that make it hard to stop addictions. Typically, an addict is involved in codependent relationships. The person who is not the addict is enabling the addict to keep using. It’s not that the caretaker wants the addict to be sick, it’s that they want that person to be happy. And they cannot seem to get their partner to get well. They may have good intentions: taking them to AA meetings, trying to get that person into a residential treatment program and things of that nature, but addiction is a strong disease. The addict is more in love with the substance than they are with their partner to an extent. It’s tragic and addiction hurts the addict and the family of that person.

What can you do to help someone struggling with addiction?

addiction is a disease One thing to remember is that a person who is struggling with addiction is ill. There is some debate as to whether or not, but the fact remains that addiction impacts people’s lives negatively. There is the term floating out there “functional alcoholic,” which refers to a person who goes about their daily activities (work, social life, and family) but still struggles with addiction. This term is misleading as the presupposition is that an addict can lead a “normal” productive life without having negative consequences. This is a highly unlikely scenario because the pull of addiction destroys lives. Even if the person is going to work, making tons of money and supporting their family, they are hurting on the inside and will eventually suffer the consequences of their addiction if they don’t get help.

Understand that as much as you want to help an addict get sober: they have to want to get well first. 

I know this sounds like an obvious statement, but until the person is ready to get well, they will not be successful doing so. The addict has to get to the point where they realize that their addiction is negatively impacting their life so much so that they need to get help. It is possible to recover from addiction; people do it every day! It’s about having the willpower, strength, and tenacity to get well. Another important aspect of getting well is having a strong network of people around you encouraging you to get healthy.

Support systems and their value in addiction recovery

As a family member of an addict, you cannot MAKE that person get well, but you can be emotionally supportive and positive during the process. If an addict makes statements about wanting to change: encourage those words. Be positive and supportive as they make their way to sobriety, which for some people is a lifelong process!

Need help?

Whether you are struggling with substance abuse or you are a family member of an addict, you can get help. This article on BetterHelp talks about the reality of addiction and helps you to understand the challenges that addicts face. You can also read about what addiction is and resources to treat it on Psychology Today. Whatever your addiction is, there is hope for you to get better. Stay positive and reach out for help when you need it!