The Best Tips, Techniques & Resources
Over the last 10 weeks we’ve reviewed a range of skills to help you get back your life from your loved one’s addiction. Hopefully, you are using the skills and ideas presented in the email course and have been seeing the benefits in terms of increased confidence, improved mental health, and possibly getting your addicted loved one into treatment. Even if you haven’t experienced much success yet in using the skills and tips, don’t give up! With persistence, work, and practice it is possible to improve your life, help reduce your loved one’s use, and even have him/her enter treatment. Although we’ve reached the end of this email course, you can still practice the skills and use these resources to help you continue on your journey to take back your life and help your loved one.
Week 1: Making a plan
In week one, we helped you to create a plan for taking back your life from your loved one’s addiction. Oftentimes one of the most difficult things can be just getting started. Taking time to reflect on your needs, resources, limits, and activities you want to re-engage in can give you a starting point and give you motivation to continue on.
Week 2: How to talk to your loved one about their drug or alcohol use
How to talk to your loved one about the impact of his/her use was the subject of week two’s post. Even the best communicators need help in talking with their loved ones about highly charged subjects such as addiction. Using the PIOUS skills and picking the right time to talk with your loved one about his/her addiction can increase your chances for success (e.g., your loved may listen to what you say and take action). To review, PIOUS stands for:
- Positive: Ask for what you want instead of what you don’t want, and offer praise and support for actions that enable sobriety.
- “I” statements: Own your feelings and requests. “I feel embarrassed” rather than “you make me feel embarrassed.”
- Offer to help: Extend a helping hand if it will make sobriety easier for your loved one.
- Understanding statement: Expressing that you understand how your loved one feels or owning your role in a conflict can lower your loved one’s defenses and make him/her more open to what you say. Remember, never own your loved one’s addiction! You may have played a role in the fight that happened right before your addicted loved one drank, but you did not make him or her use.
- Specific: Stick to specific actions that you would like your loved one to change rather than personality traits or their morals. For example, “I would like you to tell PG-rated jokes at our next party” vs. “Why can’t you use your common sense at our parties and tell less offensive jokes.” Being specific also refers to the actions you want to see from your loved one. Don’t assume that your loved one knows what you are asking of him/her.
Weeks 3 & 4: Finding good treatment options and discussing it with your loved one
In weeks 3 and 4, the topic of treatment was discussed. We decoded some of the language used in substance abuse and mental health treatment and offered tips for finding the right treatment for your loved one. We wrote about ways of discussing treatment that work and tips on finding the best times to suggest treatment. Remember, it’s important to use the PIOUS skills from week 2 when you are talking about treatment with your loved one. One key message is to never give up! If your loved refuses treatment the first 10 times you offer it, he/she may accept it the 11th, 12th, or 20th time you offer it.
Week 5: Reconnecting with your values and motivation
The journey to help your loved one reduce or stop use can be exhausting. In week 5 we talked about the importance of values and gave you ways to reconnect with the motivation for doing this hard work. Values can be very motivational and give meaning to the difficult emotions you experience. Keeping your values visible (writing them down on an index card that you keep in your wallet) can give you the extra push when things get tough.
Weeks 6 & 7: Making hard decisions like kicking your loved one out or getting a divorce
Weeks 6 and 7 tackled tough questions that often come up when you have an addicted loved one. We wrote about making the decision to end your relationship, kick your loved one out of the house, and other difficult choices that relate to your boundaries. We outlined various strategies to make these decisions such as pros and cons lists, identifying your resources (emotionally and financially), learning from past attempts, evaluating you and your loved one’s willingness, and considering what your values say about the decision. All of these strategies can give you some clarity about which choice to make.
Weeks 8 & 9: Dealing with embarrassing situations
Finally, we discussed how to handle embarrassing situations, which are pretty common when a loved one is using. Two strategies were provided: communication skills and problem solving. By week 8 it was probably no surprise that communication with your loved one about his/her embarrassing behavior involved using PIOUS skills and picking the right time to talk with him/her about his/her behavior. There’s a reason why communication showed up so many times in the email course: when done well, communication can have a lot of positive benefits. When communication is done poorly, it can lead to a lot of negative effects. Remember, even the best communicators can improve their skills, especially when communicating about topics that can lead to conflict. The second strategy, discussed in last week’s post, was problem solving. Using the 6-step method of problem solving can help get clarity about how to solve the problem, as well as multiple ways to solve it.
We know that having a loved one with an addiction is difficult. We hope that you’ve found the ideas and skills offered in the email course helpful. Because addiction can be hard to recover from and the impact of it on you, your loved one, your family, and your friends can be very deep, and you may need additional support. At the end of this week’s post are links to resources that may help you get more support in your journey to break free from your loved one’s addiction.
The weekly emails are based on the CRAFT model. If you would like to read more about CRAFT, we highly recommend an excellent book by the creators of CRAFT called “Get Your Loved One Sober.” It will teach you very clearly how to identify and minimize triggers for your loved one’s use, as well as other ways to support your loved one’s sobriety (many of which we discussed in this email course).
If a book alone does not feel like enough, it can also be helpful to do 1-to-1 counseling to give you additional support and help (e.g., learning skills to cope with your loved one’s drinking). Psychology Today has one of the largest databases of therapists that you can search to find therapists in your area. We suggest you search for providers in your area who specialize in addiction and a type of evidence-based treatment called Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Also, we have a tip sheet that provides you with some questions you may want to ask a potential counselor to see if he/she is a good fit for you.
A word about safety
We cannot stress enough the importance of you and your family’s safety. If you suspect you might be in danger of physical or emotional harm go here to read more. Above all else, it is very important to keep you and your family safe.
- Peer Support Groups for People with Addictions
- SMART Recovery is a non-12 step peer support group that is heavily based on a Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach to addiction treatment.
- SMART recovery has a Local Meetings Pilot Program for family & friends. Consider attending or contact them to show interest in forming local meetings in your area.
- More info on other peer support group options are here
- Substance Use Treatment Centers and Locators
- A list of treatment centers that are similar or supportive of SMART Recovery practices
- A larger list of treatment centers in the US (not just SMART Recovery type)
- More info on other treatment options in Oregon and in other states in the US are here
- More info on resources on all of the following here:
- Culturally specific addictions resources
- Resources on addiction for professionals
- Research centers focused on addictions
A final word
It’s important to remember that there is hope. People do recover from addiction and families are able to break free from harm that addiction can cause. Research shows that strategies based on CRAFT do work. With patience, persistence, and support you can break free from your loved one’s addiction and help support your loved one’s sobriety. There are people out there who are ready to help and resources you can rely on. Don’t give up and don’t be afraid to reach out. If we can be of any further help, let us know in the comments below or by dropping us a message through a contact form.