Watching a loved one flirt with disaster over risky drug taking or drinking behaviors can put a lot of strain on a relationship. You want to help, but your words have little impact, and you’re not even sure if the problem is as bad as you make it out to be.
What to do?
There are a couple of actions that can have a powerful impact over the behaviors of a family member. Firstly, you need to decide just how bad the problem is, and if you determine that your husband, sister, mother…whoever, has become dependant, then you need to get professional help.
Once addicted, the family can offer support but the addict really needs professional intervention and treatment for the best chance at a betterment of the problem. A family intervention can be a very powerful tool in convincing a reluctant addict of the need for treatment. But hopefully you decide to take some action before abuse behaviors have reached the point of addiction, and if abuse has yet to proceed to addiction, you may still exert a powerful influence over abuse behaviors, and you may yet save the problem user from addiction and a necessary period of treatment.
Do as I do, not as I say
The single greatest way to help someone in your life who is using drugs or alcohol at a potentially unsafe level is to set a good example. Words mean little to the substance abuser, but actions speak with power!
Clinical research reveals that if a spouse quits drinking, the other spouse is five times more likely to quit as well. If you can drink or use drugs recreationally and maintain control, but a loved one whom you use with cannot, you can very likely spur that person into a change of behaviors simply by setting a good example.
No wine with dinner
Don’t buy beer when you do the grocery shopping, don’t order wine with dinner at a restaurant…just stop all personal use behaviors and your loved one will very likely reduce theirs as well; and if they don’t or can’t, this tells you a lot about the level of their problem, and tells you that professional help may well be needed.
It’s not much to ask, and if you can cause such change simply through a temporary abstention from drugs or alcohol, you’d be hard pressed to justify continuing use; and if you find yourself having trouble with the thought of quitting, you may need to evaluate your own habits as well.
There is natural progression from use to abuse and abuse to addiction; and once dependent, the difficulty of treatment and achieving sobriety increases tenfold. If you can possibly influence use behaviors before they get to the point of addiction, you do real good and you save someone from a very scary battle for life with use and addiction.
Grab a coke, and watch your partner do the same.