I’ve gone through enough therapy by now to know that Jimmy’s death isn’t my fault.
I know that rationally, but I still feel horribly guilty. I feel like I should have seen the warning signs, and I should have gotten help.
If you have a loved one suffering from addiction, it’s important to know you cannot save them. Only they can do that for themselves. You can, however, be supportive and helpful.
Here are some ways to support a loved one struggling with addiction:
If you are suspicious your loved one is abusing drugs, do your research. Research different drugs and their symptoms and see if they align with your loved one’s symptoms. Look up rehabilitation facilities, and present options to your loved one in a non-confrontational, loving way.
- Do sober activities together
You can support your loved one during their recovery by planning and doing healthy, sober activities with them. Anything that distracts them from drug use and encourages their sobriety is helpful. Walks, picnics, rock climbing, going to the gym, art classes, drawing, painting, playing an instrument, seeing live music, yoga, and cooking are all healthy activities you can do with your loved one that does not involve drugs or alcohol. Show them that life can still be enjoyable without drugs, and there are lots of fun, sober activities to engage in.
- Support, but do not enable
It is important to draw the line between showing support and enabling your loved one. For example, the activities listed above are ways to show support. An example of enabling would be giving or lending your loved one money if they have run out of money to pay rent because they spent it all on drugs, or didn’t work enough because they were using. It may seem like you are helping them out, or buying them time to get help. But really you are only encouraging their addiction and allowing them to avoid getting help for another month.
- Do not shame them
You might be tempted to yell at or shame your loved one. This might make you feel good momentarily, or you may even think they need tough love to get help. But in the long run, it will only create a rift between you and your loved one and may make them hide more of their behaviors from you, therefore putting them at higher risk.