A natural reaction to seeing the signs of opioid addiction in a loved one is to try helping them but it’s important to distinguish whether you’re actually doing more harm than good. Sometimes, doing what’s right will be hard and go against our instincts but enabling their behavior or shutting them out completely will make them less likely to get treatment, driving them further into their opioid addiction. Below are seven ways you can help an opioid addict with compassion and healthy boundaries.
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Be Supportive (Without Enabling)
You may think that you’re being supportive to an opioid addict by lending money, making excuses, or lying to cover up their mistakes, but in reality, you’re enabling their addiction to continue. Enablers try to “solve” problems for the addict but that ends up backfiring because it de-motivates the addict to take responsibility for their own actions.
Set Clear Boundaries
It’s not enough to set clear boundaries, you must stick with them too. It can be hard, especially when the addict begs, manipulates, threatens, or whines – but stay strong. When a boundary is crossed, enforce the consequence and don’t feel bad about it. Calmly explain to them why you won’t accept their behavior and what are the consequences. They’ll probably get angry but you must stick to your boundaries because letting them get away with unacceptable behavior won’t do them (or you) any good.
Keep Open Lines of Communication
When opioid addicts feel isolated, they’re more likely to turn to drugs to cope, which is why “cutting off” communication with addicts doesn’t help. You can keep the lines of communication open while still setting and maintaining boundaries, they’re not mutually exclusive. Furthermore, by talking openly about addiction, we can help them overcome the shame, guilt, and grief that fuels their addiction.
Don’t Pass Judgment
Letting go of negative stereotypes and educating ourselves about addiction allows us to be more supportive and non-judgmental toward opioids addicts, making them feel less alone. While they should be held accountable for their actions, it’s important to remember that addiction is a disease and you’ll get a better response by treating them with compassion than shame.
Remember You Can’t Do It For Them
True change has to come from within, which is why you can’t put in the work for them, they have to do it themselves. However, you can provide support and encouragement. For example, when they make positive changes, give them honest praise and cheer on their progress.
Let Go of Control
You can’t control what an addict says or does but you can control how you respond. When you try to control an opioid addict, all you do is become a temporary hurdle towards getting their prescription or illicit drugs. Trying to control the addict is a waste of time and energy which could be used on healthier, more effective ways of helping them.
Encourage Treatment and Healthy Habits
Having a support system is essential for treating opioid addiction and preventing relapses, which is why families are often involved in the recovery process. In addition to creating an open, loving environment, encourage healthy habits and addiction treatment like a seeing therapist, entering a treatment center, or going to 12-step meetings.
Compassionate Opioid Addiction Treatment
Although you can’t force an opioid addict to quit using, there are other ways you can help them like being there for them, letting go of judgments, setting boundaries, and encouraging treatment. Isolation and shame, on the other hand, can push them further into their opioid addiction. It’s why we encourage family members to participate in treatment programs to provide extra support and comfort for our clients. Not only do we offer individual and family counseling, but being a male-only rehab makes it easier for clients to communicate openly and bond with each other, creating a strong recovery support system and more compassionate addiction treatment.
For more information on our opioid treatment programs, please call us at (888) 797-2259 or fill out our contact form.