Having an addict in your family can be devastating, particularly if that addict is a close family member. Each year, thousands of families are ripped apart because one family member becomes involved with drugs, gambling or alcohol. Yet as crippling as addictions are on the family they are considerably worse on your loved one. Imagine needing something so much that you no longer feel any sense of kinship, no longer require human interaction and have no more sense of right and wrong.
That is how an addiction feels, and it is compounded by a permanent longing, or rather necessity to procure the object of your desire. The impulse of an addiction is buried so deep that the addict is unable to perceive life without it, unable or unwilling to give it up or even admit that it is causing problems.
Luckily, nowadays there are ways of fighting addictions, be they substance-related or psychological. From ten-step programs, to rehab clinics to self-improvement seminars aimed at addicts, there are ways that your loved one can improve his or her life. The first thing to do, though is to get him or her to admit to having a problem.
This is often more difficult than you might think, not only because the addiction has too much of a grasp on him or her. Some people might not perceive their addiction as a problem. A person that consumes marijuana out of habit but can quit at any time or a gambler looking for the next big hit might not want to quit because they don’t see their issue as a problem. Prescription drugs abuse is now a leading cause of addictions in young people, because, as a doctor provides the drugs, they are not registered as a cause of problems.
In other cases the act of quitting could be physically painful so the loved ones might not want to even think of quitting for fear of the discomfort that it might cause.
In any case the first step is helping your loved one admit that he/she has a problem. Get a group of friends and family together and stage an intervention, confronting the person on their behavior and how it’s causing harm to the group. In most cases this will be enough. Having your closest friends and loved ones tell you that you are causing harm to them usually convinces even the most hardened addict.
If not you can proceed to take further action: isolating the addict from the family or in the case of minors, forcefully enrolling them in a rehab program might work but it might also backfire. If the intervention fails you should consult a specialist, preferably alongside the addict and decide a suitable course of action.
Remember, an addict can’t help himself so you need to be there for him even when he doesn’t know what he wants. And that is what love is all about.