TWELVE THINGS TO DO IF YOUR LOVED ONE IS ADDICTED
1. Don't regard this as a family disgrace. Recovery from alcoholism/addiction can come about as in any other illness.
2. Don't nag, preach or lecture to the alcoholic/addict. Chances are they have already told themselves everything you can tell them. They will take just so much and shut out the rest. You may only increase their need to lie or force them to make promises they cannot possibly keep.
3. Guard against the "holier-than-thou" or martyr-like attitude. It is possible to create this impression without saying a word. An alcoholic's/addict's sensitivity is such that they judge other people's attitude towards them more by small things than outspoken words.
4. Don't use the "if you loved me" appeal. Since the alcoholic's drinking or the addict's usage is compulsive and cannot be controlled by willpower alone, this approach only increases their guilt. It is like saying, "If you loved me, you would not have tuberculosis."
5. Avoid any threat unless you think it through carefully, and definitely intend to carry it out. There may be times, of course, when a specific action is necessary to protect children. Idle threats only make the alcoholic/drug addict feel you don't mean what you say.
6. Don't hide the alcohol/drugs or dispose of them. Usually this only pushes the alcoholic/addict into a state of desperation. In the end, they will simply find new ways of getting more alcohol/drugs.
7. Don't let the alcoholic/addict persuade you to drink/use with them on the grounds that it will make them drink/use less. It rarely does. Besides, when you condone their drinking/using, they put off doing something to get help.
8. Don't be jealous of the method of recovery the alcoholic/addict chooses. The tendency is to think that love of home and family is enough incentive for seeking recovery. Frequently the motivation of regaining self-respect is more compelling for the alcoholic/addict than resumption of family responsibilities. Or you may feel left out when the alcoholic/addict turns to other people for help in staying sober. You wouldn't be jealous of the doctor if someone needed medical care, would you?
9. Don't expect an immediate 100 percent recovery. In any illness there is a period of convalescence.
10. Don't try to protect the recovering alcoholic/addict from drinking situations. It's one of the quickest ways to push them into a relapse. They must learn on their own to say "no" gracefully. If you warn people against serving drinks, you will stir up old feelings of resentment and inadequacy.
11. Don't do for the alcoholic/addict that which they can do for themselves or which must be done by themselves. You cannot take his medicine for him. Don't remove the problem before the alcoholic/addict can face it, solve it or suffer the consequences.
12. Do offer love, support and understanding in his/her sobriety.
Source: The Utah Alcoholism Foundation Used with permission
Books for the Alcoholic/Addict:
Alcoholics Anonymous "Big Book," by AA World Services, Inc.
Healing the Shame that Binds You, by John Bradshaw
Books for the Family:
Freeing Someone You Love from Alcohol and Other Drugs. A Step-by-Step Plan Starting Today! By Ronald L. Rogers and Chandler Scott McMillin Books
Parenting for Prevention: How to Raise a Child to Say No to Alcohol/Drugs, by David J. Wilmes. To request a free copy write: Miller Family Foundation, Box 83146, Stone Mountain, GA 30083 (404) 299-5591
Books for Children:
My House Is Different, by Kathe DiGiovanni
Support Groups & Treatment:
Alcoholics Anonymous Salt Lake City Central Office (801) 484-7871
Park City Alcoholics Anonymous (435) 649-0022
Cocaine Anonymous (801) 264-5658
National Alcohol Information and Referral Helpline 1-800-252-6465
The Utah Alcoholism Foundation 1-800-258-4042 provides residential services for alcohol and other drug addictions