Advice for families of drug addicts

The destructive actions of drug addicts can devastate their families leaving relatives feeling angry, bewildered, hurt and guilty. Families can’t understand that their love isn’t enough to stop a relative using when they suffer from the disease of addiction and they can’t fathom the deceit and manipulation that they suffer from the hands of a loved one.

What can the family of a drug addict do to help?

What can the family of a drug addict do? Just put up with the lies and manipulation of their relative and hope things will change? Wait for the drug addict in the family to be arrested for stealing, wait till they crash a car? Maybe then they will pull themselves together and stop. Or, despite all their best efforts, are they just meant to watch their relative die in active addiction?

Actually, the first step relations need to take is to admit that they need help and advice, as their best efforts and love are no longer working. They don’t have the resources to handle the situation any longer. For their sakes and for the sake of the drug addict, they need to seek help elsewhere. Thankfully, professional drug addictions treatment and advice for families of drug addicts is readily available nowadays.

The best advice for families of drug addicts is to help themselves first! By focussing on how the family’s behaviour could be enabling the addict to continue using drugs is a paramount consideration.

If we can identify how the family enables the patient by covering up for their drug taking making excuses for being late and not attending to work, social, family or other commitments, we can begin to shift the patient into a position where they have to begin accepting responsibility not only for their drug addiction but also for their recovery.

To help themselves one thing a family can consider is a drug addiction intervention and get treatment for their loved one. With a drug addict using in their midst it is impossible to make any concrete, permanent changes or for the family unit to get healthier. The lies, hurt, pain and recriminations will continue unabated until the addict stops using drugs.

Seek professional support and advice

Professional support and advice on how to help the addict can be sought through licensed and accredited addictions counsellors. They can help families select the appropriate treatment centre for the drug addict and choose an effective rehab. This may involve the drug addicted relative attending a residential rehabilitation centre away from their all too familiar using patterns as well as the family.

This gives the drug addict an opportunity to face their illness and all it’s consequences, understand themselves better and to begin their recovery in earnest.

It also allows the family breathing space to recover and get help to explore their co-dependent, enabling behaviour before the drug addicted relative returns from treatment. The family may have developed unhealthy coping mechanisms in their attempts to live a normal life with a drug addict in their house. With help and advice, everyone has an opportunity to look at their own behaviours in relation to the drug addiction and begin to make healthy changes.

Accredited addictions counsellors can guide the family in their preparation for the return of their relative from a drug treatment centre. The family can gain a firmer understanding of addiction and what methods they can employ to deal with their now clean relative once they are home. This will all help prevent a relapse.

12 Step fellowships support group

On their return the recovering drug addict can attend 12 Step fellowships like NA (Narcotics Anonymous) where they can receive support and help in their recovery. Meanwhile, there are also 12 Step support groups like Nar-Anon available for the family of drug addicts. Everybody still needs help as they adjust to the positive changes to their family dynamic.

For expert and independent advice for families of drug addicts please contact one of our treatment coordinators.

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