Sometimes your loved ones go through struggles and challenges you don’t feel equipped to handle. Addiction is a common problem for many families in America and the road to recovery can be a difficult one. You may even find yourself in a situation where you have to push your loved one through their addiction. It’s heartbreaking to understand the addiction process. Finding out ways to support your loved one can be even more challenging, but should ultimately be supervised by a medical professional. As you help and watch them heal, here are four things not to say to a loved one struggling with addiction.
Sometimes the idea of being addicted to something sounds a bit ridiculous to people who have never experienced it. The reality is no one person is the same or faces the same struggles. You should never tell your loved one, “If I can do it, then so can you.” This just is not true. Everyone is different and their life experiences are unique. The road to addiction recovery is also unique to every person. It may be easy for you to have only one drink one night, but for someone else, it may take them ten years to stop binge drinking. Telling an addict this is the equivalent of telling them, “I have it easy! It must be easy for you too!” It is not a compassionate thing to tell a loved one this because it is telling them they are weak for being unable to drop their addiction overnight.
It’s Just a Matter of Willpower
Everyone’s body and mind is built differently and is unique to their life experiences. Some studies have revealed that alongside a troubled life, some people are genetically more prone to having addictive behaviors to substances. If you have been lucky enough to never been addicted to something, then you can consider yourself genetically lucky. Not everyone can drop addictions cold-turkey. Telling a loved one that dropping their addiction ‘is just a matter of willpower,’ is also equating them to calling them weak willed. These words are a way to kick down your loved one and disregarding all the hard work they are facing on their way to recovery. Instead of saying these uncompassionate words, instead try asking them, “What small daily goals have you set for yourself this week in regards to your addiction?” It will show you care about their small recovery achievements and feats.
Have You Tried This Way Instead?
You may be tempted to suggest a million ways your loved one can drop their addictions on their path to recovery. It may seem like a helpful thing to do, but in reality, your loved one has probably tried them already many times and have found a method that works for them or are still searching for comfortable ways to progress. Telling your loved one, “Have you tried this way instead,” can imply that you are rushing them, or think their methods are too slow or wrong. There is no right or wrong way to recover from addiction. According to Altus Treatment, everyone has a method that works right for them and their body. Instead, try asking them in a supportive manner such as asking, “What methods have you tried out and which one seems to be working out for you? How is your progress going?”
Your Addiction is Selfish
If your loved one could drop their addictions overnight in the name of their loved ones, they would do it if they could, but that just isn’t how addiction works. Bodily and psychological factors outside of their control are at play, and they are trying to fight back against them to the best of their ability. Telling your loved one their addiction is selfish turns the argument to have a spotlight on you and your struggles. Avoid making their addiction about you because your loved one is going through a painful struggle unimaginable to those who have never been addicted. It sounds like you are giving up on them when you tell them these things.
Overall, even in difficult times when you are tempted to leave, it is important to support your loved ones and ask how you can help their recovery process. Whether they ask for patience and kind words, admission to an alcohol and drug rehab facility, or even a ride to a doctor’s appointment, you should always let them know you are there to help them get through their addictions. Don’t make their struggle harder than it needs to be.