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How To Support Someone Suffering From Addiction and Avoid Codependency

Supporting someone with an Addiction Disorder is a challenging responsibility, but it is also an opportunity to demonstrate understanding, empathy, and encouragement. By learning about addiction and how it affects your loved one, you can provide the necessary support while fostering a healthy lifestyle for both you and your loved one. Remember, addiction recovery is a journey, and every step forward—whether big or small—counts as a triumph. Help your loved one find the support and treatment they need with this guide on how to support someone suffering from addiction. 

Understand Addiction Disorders 

The first step to helping someone with addiction is understanding the disorder yourself. Addiction Disorders occur when a person becomes both physically and psychologically dependent on a substance or behavior. This dependency leads to the development of unhealthy habits and negatively impacts every aspect of life, including relationships, work, and overall well-being.  

When many people think of addiction, they first think of Substance Abuse Disorders such as drug or alcohol addiction. However, it is also important to recognize Behavioral Addictions, which include addictions to activities or habits such as gaming, social media usage, shopping, gambling, pornography, or sex.  

The more you know about what Addiction Disorders are—including what symptoms look like and how they impact your loved one’s life—the easier it is to navigate those challenges. 

Identifying Signs and Symptoms of Addiction 

Identifying the symptoms and signs of Addiction Disorders is crucial when helping a loved one. Each type of Addiction Disorder can present its unique set of symptoms. However, some common signs can include changes in sleeping or eating habits, poor self-care, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, and neglecting personal responsibilities, work, and social obligations. Someone with an Addiction Disorder might also exhibit severe changes in behavior, such as becoming secretive, isolated, reckless, or aggressive. 

Debunking Addiction Myths and Misconceptions 

Gaining an understanding of Addiction Disorders also helps you learn the truth behind common myths and misconceptions, giving you a clearer view of what is happening with your loved ones. This know-how can also help you become equipped to help them. 

For example, by understanding addiction to be a legitimate Mental Health Disorder, you can unlearn the common misconception that overcoming addiction is simple. Additionally, learning more about the symptoms and challenges of Addiction Disorder helps you understand why going “cold turkey” can make it harder for an individual to achieve lasting recovery. 

This knowledge, in turn, helps you understand that recovery is a long, gradual journey full of ups and downs; your loved one will need your support through it all. 

Learn About Relapse Triggers 

One of the most important aspects of supporting someone through addiction recovery is learning about relapse triggers. A relapse is an instance in which an individual returns to their addictive substance or behavior after a period of abstinence. Relapse is a common but difficult part of the recovery process. Being able to handle it compassionately and effectively can help minimize the emotional hardship and feelings of despair or failure that often come with relapse.  

Understanding relapse triggers—the specific situations or emotions that lead to relapse—makes it easier to plan for and avoid relapses. Relapse triggers come in a variety of forms, such as emotional, physical, or environmental factors. Examples of these triggers include stress, triggers such as exposure to certain people or places, or even specific smells and tastes that remind a person of their addiction. By understanding these triggers, you can help your loved one identify safe spaces and develop strategies for avoiding potential relapse situations. 

Monitor Your Own Mental Health 

You cannot take care of someone else without first taking care of yourself. Trying to support someone through addiction while neglecting your own needs can lead to unhealthy behaviors, such as codependency or burnout. In the long run, sacrificing your own mental and physical health will only make things harder for both of you. 

For example, stopping by your loved one’s home every day after work to check on them can seem like a helpful behavior. You get to spend time with them, see how they are doing, and show them that you care about their well-being. However, doing this every day means you give yourself less time to look after yourself. Maybe you do not have time to run the errands you need to, or you skip dinner or resort to fast food because you spend the evening with your loved one. Over time, your own stressors and responsibilities pile up, harming your mental and physical health while also making it harder for you to be there for your loved one.  

That is why it is important to prioritize self-care and preserve your own well-being. Take time to engage in activities that help you recharge and maintain your own mental well-being. In doing so, you help both yourself and your loved one. 

Be Wary of Codependency 

Addiction affects everyone. Your loved one’s addiction disorder brings physical, emotional, professional, financial, and social consequences, which means it likely affects your relationship, too. In many cases, codependency may appear in the relationship.  

Codependency is a dysfunctional relational dynamic in which one person unintentionally supports or enables another person’s destructive behavior to the detriment of their own mental and emotional health. You might feel overly responsible for your loved one’s recovery or try to protect them from the symptoms or consequences of their addiction. While these behaviors come from a good place, they only serve to put your own well-being at risk while preventing your loved one from finding true healing and growth. 

Ending codependency is not easy, but it is crucial to help your loved one and yourself. Setting clear boundaries for yourself, communicating your own needs, and finding professional help for you and your loved one are all ways to end codependent behaviors and preserve your well-being. 

Let the Experts Help 

You do not have to help your loved one on your own. By encouraging them to seek professional help, you can connect them to a therapist who has experience treating Addiction Disorders. A mental health professional will work closely with your loved one and build a comprehensive, evidence-based treatment plan for them. Tailored treatment from an experienced Addiction Psychologist is the key to learning more about addiction and its symptoms and taking actionable steps to lasting recovery.  

At Blair Wellness Group, we know the challenges Addiction Disorders present for you and your loved ones. That is why we are committed to helping clients create lasting, positive change in their lives. Reach out to our team today and see the difference compassionate, personalized mental health care can make in your journey toward addiction recovery. 

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