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Addiction Support: the Dos and Don’ts

Addiction and recovery is a family journey. Your loved one must do the hard work of rehabilitation and regaining control of their life but family and friends providing addiction support is an important part of the process.

It’s a difficult time for everyone involved. You may think you know what’s best for your loved one’s recovery, but here are some tips to help everyone get the most out of the process.

Addiction support: What not to do

Don’t use guilt
Guilt and shame are part of the addiction cycle and will not help your loved one’s rehabilitation. Making your loved one feel bad about their addiction may drive them back to drugs or alcohol to cope with their guilt and shame. Being open to the recovery process is more helpful and will show your loved one you want them to succeed.

Don’t blame yourself
Your loved one has made choices that have lead them to addiction. Blaming yourself takes away the responsibility of the addict. Accepting responsibility for their own actions is a vital part of rehabilitation and recovery. It’s easy to think you should have done more to help your loved one in their time of need. Blaming yourself helps no one. Participating in family therapy or setting healthy boundaries are more useful.

Don’t do everything
Your loved one needs a sense of responsibility for their life to start their recovery journey. Having a sense of purpose contributes to self-worth and self-esteem. There’s a difference between enabling and supporting. Let your loved one deal with the responsibilities of their life and succeed on their own terms.

Don’t punish or bribe
Addiction is its own punishment. Preaching about the things they should have done, reminding them of problems, or threatening to withdraw support is unhelpful. Your loved one will deal with their actions as part of their rehabilitation. By focusing on the future and their health, you can support their recovery.

Addiction support: What to do

Do listen and learn
Learn about addiction and recovery and take the time to let your loved one talk. Opening up can be difficult, especially to those who have been hurt by their actions, but listening to your loved one can also help you both heal. Your loved one will know that you care and you can support them through difficult times. Understanding the process of addiction and recovery can give you the tools to support your loved one and yourself through rehabilitation.

Do participate
Taking part in the rehabilitation process can be valuable for family members. Addiction affects the whole family so it’s important everyone takes part in the recovery process. Attending family therapy and individual counselling will help you understand what’s happening and show your loved one you support their recovery.

Do think about yourself
Take care of your own physical and mental wellbeing. Worrying about your loved one can take a toll and it’s easy to put your own needs on the backburner. But taking the time to eat well, exercise, socialise and attend support groups is vital to taking care of both you and your loved one.

More information

Establishing Family Boundaries
5 Ways to Support a Loved One with Addiction

Support groups

If you are looking for a support group to provide more addiction support, please consider:
Al-Anon
Alcoholics Anonymous
Narcotics Anonymous
Nar-anon

Approved providers

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