Anyone who lives with a person suffering from any kind of addiction knows just how difficult that can be. Addiction impacts the happiness and the health of the entire household. Whether family member or friend, if you decide that you are going to continue living with a person who is suffering from addiction, you will need to find some ways for the problems of the addict and the negativity associated with the addiction to have less of an effect on you, and the rest of the household.
You will also want to learn to create a family dynamic that is supportive of every member of the family. This includes not only the person with the addiction, but the needs of everyone else involved (including yourself). In the best of all possible worlds, the dynamic created will encourage positive changes and attitudes rather than harmful and negative behaviors, and more importantly, help you and everyone in the household keep from feeling crazy with guilt, anger or sadness.
Here are six solid tips to staying sane while living with an addict.
1. Let Positivity Rule
When you try to change the behavior of your loved one who has an addiction problem through nagging, threats, punishments, or other attempts at coercion, you are perpetuating a negative cycle. Your odds of success though these means are very low. You are trying to change someone who is ultimately responsible for his or her own actions and will not be willing to make changes until he or she is really ready and prepared for making the changes necessary. By using these negative control tactics, you are creating an unhealthy and uncomfortable environment within your own home.
2. Do not take the burden on yourself.
You did not give your loved one this addiction. You are not responsible for his or her actions or behavior. There is no one to blame in this situation. As mentioned above, the addicted person is responsible for him or herself. You should not be feeling guilt or responsibility for the disease of another person. Letting go of your misplaced guilt and shame can help you focus your energies on the things that you can change and the things that you can make better.
3. Talk about it.
Trying to hide someone else’s addiction from other members of your family is not going to help any of you. Talk openly and honestly about the realities and the consequences surrounding addiction. Try not to get emotional. Just give the facts and answer any questions that the other people in your household may have. If you are having trouble with this, seek advice from support groups like Al-Anon or from a trained therapist. You do not have to do this on your own.
4. Do not clean up someone else’s mess.
Trying to cover up for someone with an addiction problem is not your job. If you did not drink the many glass beer bottles that are in your recycling bin than there is no reason for you to worry about doing anything by taking them to the curb. You do not need to tiptoe around your loved one who is hung-over from a bender the night before. There is no reason for you to cater to his or her needs either. You are not responsible for his or her actions
5. Leave important discussions for another time.
Trying to talk to someone who is drunk or high about something that you feel is important is going to be needlessly difficult and frustrating for you. It may be a waste of energy. Try to save these talks for a time when the addicted person is not under the influence. With some people, it may be difficult to find that kind of time, but if the conversation is important enough, it can wait. However, if the issue is time sensitive, you might want to make the attempt. If the conversation does not work, you are free to make the decision on your own. Again, it is not your fault that your loved one could not participate in the decision making process.
6. Encourage everyone in your family to do other things.
You want everyone in your family to be happy including the person with the addiction problem. Encourage everyone to take part in hobbies and interests that do not have anything to do with addiction or dealing with addiction. Your loved one’s addiction should not be the center of every conversation and the only thing that you all think about. Learning to put it aside and focus on some other activity can be essential for all involved.
The Ultimate Goal is Getting Them Help
Living with an addict is not easy. Watching someone you care about fall victim to drugs and alcohol can cause a lot of stress, anger, resentment and sadness in the household. These six sensible ideas can help make a very difficult situation a little easier on everyone involved. You can use all of these steps to create a happy and healthy environment for your family. Hopefully, your successes will encourage your loved one with the drug or alcohol problem to make better decisions and change his or her priorities.