3 Ways to Support a Loved One Struggling with Addiction

Having a loved one with an alcohol or drug problem is a catch-22. You want to be supportive. But, how supportive is too supportive?

Kelly Rogan, family program coordinator at TriHealth Bethesda Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program, explains how to support your family member or friend who has an addiction, without enabling his or her behavior.

How to Recognize the Signs of Enabling

“When someone has an alcohol or drug problem and they come to us for treatment, we believe in treating the whole family, because everyone’s been affected,” Kelly explains. This includes educating family and friends about the classic signs of enabling, which include:

  • Calling in for someone to skip an obligation
  • Taking care of his or her financial responsibilities

Coping Strategies for Loved Ones

#1: Get Educated

First, Kelly stresses the importance of getting educated by reading books or online articles, or seeking counseling. It’s important for you to learn about your loved one's addiction so you know what type of signs or symptoms to expect and how to handle varying situations you may experience.  

#2: Get Support

In order to effectively offer support for your loved one, you first need support for yourself. Kelly reminds the people she educates and counsels, “If you’re not taking care of and getting support for yourself, how can you be there for those that you love?”

If your loved one is struggling with an alcohol or substance addiction, Kelly suggests visiting the following websites to find education and access to support groups – both online and in-person:

#3: Encourage Your Loved one to Seek Help

The Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program at TriHealth will answer any questions you have about a loved one's case, but that person needs to make the call for the appointment. “This is the beginning of us not enabling and having someone take responsibility for their own help.”

Kelly also recommends talking to a counselor, before encouraging your loved one to seek professional help, because a trained professional can help you appropriately address the situation. 

TriHealth Bethesda Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program: How it Works

If you have requested an appointment to learn more about the alcohol and drug treatment program, you will be scheduled for an initial assessment that lasts two to three hours.

From there, it’s determined if you’re appropriate for intensive outpatient treatment, which is the program TriHealth offers. If so, the staff will help you schedule a start date, so you can begin the program. On the other hand, if you do not fit the requirements for outpatient treatment, you may be referred to inpatient treatment or individual counseling.

The program lasts six to eight weeks, depending on your progress. Kelly also suggests that close family members or friends be involved in the treatment process. Sessions are held on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. The Wednesday meeting is an educational lecture series, involving both you and your support system, whereas the Thursday session involves only your support system. During these meetings, the following topics are discussed:

  • Enabling
  • Detachment
  • Co-dependency

“Co-dependency is when what you’ve done to be caring has begun to hurt you,” Kelly points out. “We bend over backwards to help someone out and can end up falling over and hurting ourselves. That's when we've crossed the line and it isn't healthy.”

Tags: Miscellaneous

Last Updated: May 9, 2014