Addiction is a manipulative disease. It tells its victims that they’re not doing anything wrong, pitting them against the friends and family who care about them. Over time, the addiction changes the brain and affects the person’s ability to make good decisions. This is why addicts continue their abuse despite negative consequences. They often believe they can stop whenever they want.
Even though this thinking is delusional to us, it’s not to the addict. It’s difficult to break through and get people to accept the help they need. Because it’s a desperate time for everyone, some families resort to scare tactics and ultimatums. Unfortunately, these don’t work and can actually make things worse.
Why Natural Consequences are Important for Addicts
Addicts typically don’t want help until they feel enough pain from their actions. The only way for them to feel this pain, however, is by having them experience consequences. We realize that this is very difficult for families to watch, but it’s one of the best ways to ignite change. If the addict can continue using drugs and alcohol without negative effects, they won’t have a reason to seek addiction treatment.
Before deciding on the best consequences for your family member, talk to a mental health professional or addiction specialist. Every family is different, and it’s important that you talk everything through. The household must be on board with the rules and prepared to follow through with the consequences.
Types of Consequences that Can Spark Change in Addicts
It’s imperative that you set boundaries for yourself, otherwise, your loved one’s addiction will cause your own mental, emotional, and physical health to suffer. Below are some common consequences to start with.
Cut Off Financial Support
One of the easiest consequences to follow through with is withholding financial support. Let’s say your 19-year-old is living with you but not working or paying any bills. Instead, they spend their time getting high. If you keep paying for everything, they won’t have a reason to stop. By cutting off these funds and asking them to pay rent or move out, they will have to face their problem.
Stop Making Excuses
Another thing you can do is pull away family support. It is possible to love your family member and support their recovery without enabling their addiction. To do this, you’ll need to stop making excuses and bailing them out of trouble. If you continue to enable your loved one, the addiction will grow more severe and sabotage your relationships with others.
Avoid Paying for Legal Troubles
If a person continues abusing drugs, they usually get caught up in some type of legal trouble. If this happens, you don’t need to run to their rescue, bail them out of jail or pay their legal fees. The legal problems they are facing are a result of their actions, not yours. If you take care of them this time, they’ll expect you to do the same next time.
Don’t Get Involved in Work or School
As the addiction worsens, you can expect your loved one to start having problems at work or school. Again, the last thing you want to do is make excuses or bail them out. A better approach is to find out what type of addiction treatment services the work or school offers and present them to your loved one. Without addiction treatment in Agoura, their professional future will be in jeopardy.
Restrict Visits with Other Family Members
Even though having an addiction in your family is incredibly stressful, it’s important to try and find happiness in your own life. You likely have other family members who need your time and attention, so focus on them if the addict refuses help. But, know that you may have to restrict visits with younger siblings or ailing grandparents.
Invest Time in Your Own Health
Over time, addiction takes a toll on a person’s physical health. Some common complications are a lowered immune system, dental problems, cardiovascular issues, sexually transmitted disease, unwanted pregnancy, Hepatitis C, and others. You don’t have to stand by and watch your loved one’s health deteriorate. Put this energy into your own health and wellness.
Without Consequences, the Addiction Will Win
We realize that establishing and following through with consequences is extremely difficult. This is your family member, and if anything happens to them, it’s you who will carry the guilt. This is why we encourage you to talk with a counselor or healthcare professional first to discuss your options.
If you haven’t had an intervention yet, now may be the time to do so. During the intervention, you can layout the ground rules and motivate your loved one to get the help they need. If they flat out refuse, you must have some type of consequence to fall back on. This is the only thing that will help them see the depth of their problem.
After working with addicts for many years, we can assure you that allowing your loved one to abuse drugs and alcohol under your roof is not the safest choice. It will negatively impact your health, cause problems in your relationships, and worsen the addiction. Over time, your loved one will be more likely to suffer a fatal overdose as well.
Seek Recovery at Awakenings Treatment Center
Awakenings Treatment Center is a place for hope and healing. Our environment is warm and welcoming, offering clients the ideal balance of mental, physical, and spiritual healing. We are an outpatient drug rehab based in Agoura Hills, California, where clients can work on their recoveries while living at home. We find this is less intimidating and more affordable for families. However, if you feel that your loved one could use the structure and support of sober living, we do have sober housing we can refer you to.
To learn more about our outpatient treatment options, please contact us today.