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Some people who have become addicted to a drug are unwilling to get help for themselves. They blame others for causing them to turn to their drug of choice. Some have undergone repeated stints in treatment centers only to return over and over to their addiction. They resist more treatment and instead become more dependent on their drug.
The resistance to treatment is particularly hard on the loved ones of the addict who simply find themselves not knowing what to do. Sometimes, circumstances push an addict into treatment, like a court order, divorce, or loss of child custody. Other times, even great loss does not inspire the addict to seek treatment.
They depend on their drugs just to function. They put off treatment as long as possible and some can never be reached. Meanwhile, loved ones don’t want to give up, but they do not know what to do. They themselves have become exhausted and are sometimes filled with despair.
Although loved ones do not want to give up on their addict, they need to learn how to take care of themselves. Things loved ones can do to help themselves and the addict they love include:
Becoming educated. Addiction is a chronic and progressive brain disease. Addicts compulsively turn to their drug despite consequences, like the loss of a relationship, the loss of children, and the loss of a job. When the addict continues to refuse treatment, it may be impossible for the loved ones to provide the level of support and patience the addict needs.
Practicing self-care. No matter what loved ones do, they cannot control the behavior of the addict no matter how much they try. The loved ones need to get support in understanding this, so they do not chastise themselves for not being able to prevent the behavior.
Setting limits. Loved ones often focus so much on the addict’s feelings in trying to get the addict to go to treatment that they do not set appropriate boundaries. They allow the addiction and the addict’s demands to take over their own lives. They need to detach from the addict’s life in order to safeguard their own health. They need to allow the addict to suffer the consequences of addiction. Boundaries must be established like refusing to give the addict money or pay his or her bills. Limits can be set by refusing to allow the addict to come around if they are using or drunk.
There is always hope for recovery from the chronic, relapsing disease of addiction. Some who stumbled more than others, and who resisted treatment at every step of the way, eventually found their way to lifelong sobriety. But meanwhile, the addict’s loved ones need to take care of themselves.